A macro shot of a single leaf from the Hoppe Leaf Mountain - November 2009.

Suspect Information, Ideas, and Opinions - rarely updated and of dubious quality.

Camping Alone

Last weekend - late September - I went camping alone at Rondeau Provincial Park. I wrote this on Sunday:

...with clothes on this time.

This morning, only because I forgot to bring my bathing suit this trip, I went skinny dipping in Lake Erie. Yesterday I swam in my underwear and ended up feeling stupid for doing that since I didn't see a soul for the entire time I was on the beach and I soaked a relatively clean pair of underwear that was only about half way through its 24-hour shift.

So for today, I was already committed to skinny dipping when I arrived at the beach. Of course the beach had to be populated like Club Med during the high season. I thought: "Fuck it." I stripped down to nothing and ran into the water. The nearest person was more than 100 meters away anyway...

First off, Lake Erie at 9AM in late September is cold. Who'd a thought? Erie is one of those lakes where there are like - dunes in the water. One second you in up to your knees, then your chest, then your knees again. I ran that entire expanse (at least a hundred meters) like Ben Johnson. Then I dove headfirst through a wave and when I came up I was warm. This is really one of the most glorious things about swimming in cold lakes. If you can just get in, then you can get more than comfortable, no matter what the temperature.

Once I was in I had another "moment." By myself in the water (nobody else is stupid enough to swim) naked as the day I was born, and crashing through some really incredible waves for an Ontario lake.

After about 15 minutes, I was done. Those waves were really powerful and I'm not such a young whippersnapper anymore (as is evidenced my use of the word "whippersnapper.") People were still around when I was ready to get out so in the interests of decency I decided to cup my precious gifts with my hands when I came out of the water. Actually there wasn't much left to cup. I was able to cover up with just one hand - using only two fingers actually - just the little finger and the ring finger I'm ashamed to say.

I walked back to my gear, wrapped my trusty beach towel around me, a towel by the way, I've had for at least 10 years - the perfect size for me, and then sat on a comfortable provincial park bench and let the sun dry me off without a thing to do, or think, about or worry about - at least for the moment.

That was a sweet experience, and one I wouldn't have shared with anyone on earth, except for maybe Cindy Crawford.

After a delicious crudite lunch (not really) I decided to try out "Rondeau's Favourite Trail" - the Spice bush trail. I hoped to get some good pics of the local flora. At only 1.5km, it's a pretty short hike but I knew within the first hundred meters, that it was going to feel much longer, for it was at that point that a great cry rose from all of the bugs in all of the forest..."Lunchtime!" and they descended on me in droves to feast. At times like this I always think briefly about those Manitoba moose, so driven to insanity in the Spring by the mosquitoes, that they throw themselves off cliffs. Animal suicide! Luckily for me the terrain was relatively flat.

And I must have been the only person foolish enough to hike the trail that day, judging by the number of spider webs I walked through face first. The Spice trail is supposed to be a prime example of a Carolinian Forest - Carolinian I believe - is Latin for "swamp." Still, there was lots to photograph, and for my part, I became a paragon of efficient shooting. The bugs were so many and so merciless that I would identify a photo op a few meters up, I would turn on my camera and alter my settings, - like color saturation, f-stop, shutter speed - then I would put the tripod down, hit the shutter (I had a two second delay programmed in so there would be no camera shake at lower speeds) and then would spin on my heel and back again, picking up the camera and check the shot - all without breaking stride. You see, in order to survive in a Carolinian forest, you must be like a shark in the ocean - never at rest or you will die.

You know sometimes when you get bit by a mosquito and when you finally swat it, it leaves behind a smear of blood because it turns out that it had been gorging on you for some time without you realizing it? Well, thanks to that little fact of life, I walked out of the Spice bush trail Carolinian forest, got in my car, and checked myself in the rear mirror and realized I looked like I had just massacred my family with an axe. Still, I got some good shots of a fungus.

I did not sleep well last night. My mattress was a one inch thick one of the self-inflating sort. On top of that I had a zipped up sleeping bag turned inside out (for traction) and on top of that, I was inside my main sleeping bag. It's the very same bedding equipment that has served me well in the past and has been responsible for many a blissful slumber, for some reason didn't do the trick this time. I reasoned that it had to be my choice of site for my tent. For the entire night, I felt like I was sliding down and to the right. Down alone would have been fine, but that to the right thing...I woke up constantly, my arms fell asleep (with me awake no less) and I got the king of all sleep induced disorders - the sore back. It's amazing how much pain my back can signal given the opportunity. I don't even have a bad back, yet if my pillow doesn't support my head at the perfect angle...well obviously I haven't figured this out because I still have sleeps like this.

Really, I live in fear of inadvertently sleeping with my head lower than my feet. The one I did that, I woke up with the hangover to end all hangovers. How did I let myself fall asleep like that? Well, reread the last sentence. (hint: I'd been drinking.) When camping, I do my due diligence, I set up my bed sober and then come bedtime, I drunkenly hope that my calculations pay off.

But today I feel amazingly energetic considering I really got a shitty sleep.

Camping Alone
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