August 22, 2016
When you surround yourself with outdoorsy types, your notions of what’s normal become skewed. In the MEC community, it seems like there’s always someone sending a crazy peak, crushing a half marathon or organizing a lunchtime party in the park – you’re pretty much guaranteed to meet people who are into the same good times outside as you are. So, while I might have found the idea of a one-night midweek camp-out crazy just a year ago, now I get giddy at the thought.
Our crew of five left from the office to summit Mount Seymour on a foggy Wednesday evening in early August. We grabbed our overnight packs followed the twisting trail up from the main parking lot, and Missy frequently pulled out a GoPro to film the first of many memorable moments as we navigated into the backcountry, the sun peeking through hazy clouds at the top.
Tents pitched and sleeping bags unrolled, we found a small circling of rocks and set down for a potluck dinner. Local brews, cider and wine washed down our tapas-style hummus and fixings, plus kale and quinoa salads and a bar of chocolate to share. Elyse, Senja and Rebecca brought out glowy lanterns that lit up our little spot, and we were up till nearly midnight laughing.
The morning sun softly lit up the sky from under low clouds as we packed up and headed to Mystery Lake. After a refreshing morning dip, we dug into rosemary rocksalt bagels and toyed with the idea of breaking out the Aeropress, but there was no need – we were all wide awake from the swim.
For 15 sweet hours we’d seemingly had the mountain to ourselves, laughing over dinner, listening to the wind sweep through the trees and snacking on sun-warmed blueberries. I’ve lived in Vancouver for nearly a decade and always saw the outdoorsy stuff as a weekend endeavor – but even if it takes an hour or two to get somewhere, random nights with friends out in nature under the stars are worth the distance, no matter where you are or what day of the week it is.
What was worth the weight
1. A camera Missy was our resident videographer, filming a bunch of mini-clips that resulted in a sweet souvenir video of our overnight. While her particularly teeny camera didn’t weigh much, it definitely made me look into a new mirrorless camera for the next one.
2. Cheers-worthy drinks My pack definitely would’ve been far lighter without the few cans I’d stuffed in at the parking lot, but raising some adventure mugs over dinner made it worth it.
3. Good food Or at the very least, some hot sauce or spices to give your dehydrated stuff some zip. Tip: make sure it all fits in your bear bin before you leave including toothpaste, gum and anything else with a scent.
4. Mood lighting From dinnertime to our tent hang later, the lanterns beat our headlamps for keeping everything dreamily lit. Next time I’d grab one that turns your water bottle into a lantern.
5. A cushy sleeping pad and pillow For me this is an absolute must-have. Before I got my light camp pillow, I’d bring a heavy airplane memory foam one, and that was still worth it to not have a sore neck. An insulated sleeping pad means extra warmth when the sun goes down.
6. Breakfast and coffee Okay, we didn’t have coffee (the lake woke us up), but if you’re a coffee addict, it’s pretty essential. Plus the post-swim bagels totally hit the spot. If you’re into big camp breakfasts, don’t forget your cookware.
What wasn’t worth it (this time)
We packed a few extras with every intention of having the most awesome camp-out ever, but when you’re only doing a quick overnight, sometimes there just aren’t enough hours to see all your plans through. We didn’t end up setting up our hammock, I didn’t read the book I brought along, and we didn’t break out the playing cards.
Lesson learned: don’t underestimate the power of good conversation and good company outside.