With the company of friends, we have enjoyed a tradition of camping over the Memorial Day Weekend. It’s the kick-off to summer and it has been fun for the two decades we have lived in Mini-Cassia. Some years our friends come here and we enjoy the South Hills and other years we journey to Franklin County Idaho for camping at Willow Flat, a beautiful camping area up the Cub River Canyon.
For many years we reserved a group area and invited everybody. Friends brought their friends, families invited their families and before long we were camping with strangers. In the early days none of us had camp trailers so we all suffered the conditions in soft sided tents.
My childhood friend, John, and his family pack every possession they own which makes for a fantastic kitchen. They believe in camping, eating, eating, eating and eating. Now I’m not against this but it does make for a big production. On the positive side, the tents and awnings they have make for great shelter when it is raining, and believe me, it always rains.
We have learned that it pays to get to the campground ahead of everybody else so you can set up your tent in areas where the water drains well. To be late is to be forced to set up your tent in an area that doesn’t drain as well and leads to waking up wet.
One year the sister of one of our friends pulled her camp trailer up from Ogden, Utah and we had to watch her retire each night into comfort and warmth. That was fine for one year but to see it go on for a couple of years caused us to covet what she had. One year another one of our group bought a camp trailer. This eroding of our manly tent camping became a cascade where nearly all of us bit the bullet and purchased hard sided camping trailers.
The downside of all this is that the social side of group camping has all but gone away. If it’s cold or windy or even if it is a beautiful day, it’s far too easy for each family group to just disappear into their own little abode and the campfire ring is vacant.
Spring can be so unpredictable we never know if the campground will be snowed in so it’s often a surprise when we get there.
A few years ago, after a decade of owning the group camping area, someone else beat us to the reservation and we lost our big site. This was a bummer at first, but we have found that the resulting loss has forced us into our small groups that we started with. Campfires are more personal now and the smaller family groups are back to people we have known all our lives.
Because we live so far away it is usually up to my friend John to get up to the campground and reserve a couple of good spots. On Thursday he called to tell me what I can expect when I get there. He said there is still snow in the campground and it was raining and blowing so hard that he had to hook onto a tree with his truck and pull it out of the way so he could get down the canyon to work.
For many this would be enough to put a stop to spring camping, but we see it as another cog in our wheel of adventure. It will give us a lot more to reminisce about when we’re old and fat and can’t get out the front door. Unfortunately, we can’t say “Hey, remember that year that the weather was bad?”, because it’s bad every year.
Aside from enjoying the campfire and Dutch oven cooking, we love to ride ATV’s. The spring ride is wonderful because there is little to no dust. The downside is that we always get stopped by high mountain snow drifts that are nearly impassable. Still, we push on until two or three of us get stuck, then we work our buns off getting turned around, laughing about how we never learn. I think it’s a trade-off for our luxurious camp trailer accommodations. We must do something that causes us to remember how much fun we had, even if it’s a lot of work.
And we’ll keep doing it as long as it’s fun, which seems to mean that we’ll never stop.