Keep the Camp Cool

My favorite camping time is early spring, barring the onslaught of April rain, or late fall (also known as Indian summer). There is less chance of a fire hazard and it is usually mild weather. Who doesn’t like a balmy night that is warm enough to shed the heavy jackets, but cool enough to sleep well? It’s nice to feel the fresh air and not be totally entrapped in a sleeping roll. Only the most hardy, daring souls go in winter anyway. The rest of us recreational campers and fishers like to avoid roughing it too much. Hunters have seasons so they may be caught in some drastic downpour, but we all do our best to book trips appropriately.

I always assumed that I would follow this schedule. However, there was a time I recall when a family unit was formed during the kids’ vacation for a special outing. The organizers were sure that warm weather would be great. You can run around in your swimsuit or shorts and enjoy swimming without shivering. You can sleep in the open all night long. A campfire would primarily be for cooking, not warmth. To a certain extent, this is quite true. The event date was set, everyone was on board, and we started packing— very lightly.

The light part turned out to be wise since we experienced an unexpected and unwanted heat wave. The mountains are not prone to higher temperatures, but guess what? Our weekend was actually more than an anomaly. It was a world record event. We were out there sweating and steaming, even in the early morning as we arrived. As the day wore on, we wore out. It got hotter and hotter and the temperature did not abate at dusk as we hoped. It maintained until at least midnight, at which time we fell asleep exhausted from the heat. Hiking was dreary that day as we trod along slow as oozing snails. We didn’t even want to roast hot dogs much less marshmallows. The next day, one of the uncles came back to camp grinning with glee. He had purchased a portable camping fan, big enough to cool a nice area in front of the main tent. It ran on batteries and could hook into a generator if need be. It was a lifesaver.

We gathered in a circle sitting on mats on the ground. Cool air caressed our dripping faces as we relaxed our tense muscles and slowed our breathing (more like panting) down. We started to enjoy the ambiance and each other a lot more. We decided to sleep with it on and made sure it was plenty charged up. It made the trip bearable if not pleasurable. A fan is not something you expect to take with you, and it requires some room in the van or car, but I now know how much of a necessity it can be. I never even appreciated the ceiling fan at home in the sun room and have always taken it for granted. Not anymore.