LGN 119 Carefree

Inside: Corrections re: the unfortunate death of an outdoorswoman; State of mind; Camping at Assateague

This is a few weeks late but I wanted to say a little more about Hua Davis’ passing.

I did meet her and hiked with her at least once. It was the Old Rag Summit Sunrise overnight hike back in December 28, 2013. (Please correct me if I’m wrong.) Remember? I bonked and cramped, didn’t have the proper gear or clothing, and so on. And Debbie P. rocked it. And Erick played sweeper, which meant sweeping me, from the summit back to the parking lot. Thanks for that.

I posted this photo of Hua on the MAHG meetup for this outing. She responded with “Photoholic!”

Hua at Old Rag.December 2013
Photoholic. All smiles and photos.

After I wrote about her dying of hypothermia in the Adirondacks, Jim, one of the hosts of the Washington Backpackers Meetup Group, with permission from Hua’s family, released a statement. It provided insight into how such a bright light met her end doing what she loved.

What I said about Hua last time was true. She was an experienced hiker. She was driven and goal oriented. However, I learned that she was, for lack of a better word, foolhardy. Apparently, she had to be rescued a few times on previous occasions hiking in the Adirondacks. She wasn’t prepared for the weather or an emergency situation. She had no backup. I can only guess that her adventurous spirit was — I’ve seen it before. I know people who throw caution to the wind and assume that things will work out and the worst they’ll encounter is a series of painful, maybe scary, invigorating challenges that will make for good stories.

I can’t speak to Hua’s views or philosophy but some people leave it up to God, so to speak, and some people feel that when it’s their time it’s their time. She was and is a beautiful spirit. She drank in the outdoors with an aggressive love of life. Some theorize that her being a cancer survivor contributed to her joie de vivre.

She lost her life huddled against a tree in subfreezing temperatures.

Is there a lesson here? There always is. Every experience comes with lessons, some more mundane than others like, “Bring a full roll of toilet paper next time.” Or, “‘Waterproof’ should be in quotes.”

I would say, the takeaway is to live with Hua’s passion for the outdoors and fellow travelers along the way. Be carefree, adventurous, curious, bold, and spontaneous. But also be prepared. Not burdened, but prepared.

Assateague Beach Camping

Camping on da beach with the MAHG again. It was very cold. It was very windy. It rained. It was sunny and clear. It rained again. The temperature plummeted. This was a car camping trip, which means that you’re camping right next to or very near your vehicle. That’s good news. It means you can bring as much stuff as you want. You don’t have to worry about weight.

That means you can bring an iron skillet if you’re into that sort of thing. You can bring all the food you want. Coolers with drinks and groceries. All your camping gear plus extra blankets and clothes. Firewood. A heavy-ass full frame camera plus lenses, another camera, flashes, batteries, and so on. Electronic devices. Furniture. If things go sideways you can sleep in the car (where it’s allowed) or pack up and leave. There’s usually a bathroom facility nearby, although YMMV.

Backpacking? Different story but let me stay focused, for once.

I was almost prepared for wintry weather at the beach. Luckily, after some squalls blew through the forecast changed from 22 degrees Fahrenheit with steady winds of 30mph and gusts of 50mph to something much more reasonable. A low of 30 degrees and 20 – 30mph winds. I was prepared+ except for the pants area. That’s right. I wasn’t prepared in my pants. When the sideways rain hit I was wearing jeans over silk long johns. Cotton in the cold and wet is stupid but it worked out. The bonfire helped to dry things out a fair amount and I had extra, dry clothes to change into. I had one of the better outside sleeps I’ve ever had. It probably would have been quality and rejuvenating if I hadn’t drank so much coffee right before bed, duh.

I should add that by the time we got there the weather had been pretty brutal for a good part of the day so there were only 10 or 12 people total spread out over three group camping areas: three, four, and five. Earlier that morning there had been around thirty tents on the beach compared to five or so later in the day.

Here’s what it looked like last year before the second wave arrived.

Assateague Camping Trip 1

I want to invite more friends along — thanks to K and S for braving the conditions — but I don’t want them to be miserable. I intentionally have enough gear to help round out the equipment for others, but — how do I say this?

I have been cold. And wet. And miserable. There are a few times when I’ve been the coldest I’ve ever been and feared for my safety/health/life. One of those times I left the trip a day early. It was a great trip but I wasn’t prepared and couldn’t seem to warm myself up and stay that way. I had forgotten something important even though I can’t remember what it was now. I tossed a mental coin and decided there was no shame in pulling the plug a little early. It happens. And you know what? It was totally worthwhile for me. I loved it. I wish it had been warmer and that my knee hadn’t been acting up but I loved it.

There is no perfection.

Some people require comfort in order to enjoy themselves. It’s important to be able to not care that things momentarily suck. Sometimes that amazing view you wanted to see is clouded over and fogged in. I don’t like bugs but they do their best to get into everything. Sometimes that idyllic creek you fell in love with is bone dry or in the throes of homicidal raging. Sometimes someone gets ill or injured. Sometimes there’s a person or two that kind of ruins things or becomes a problem. There is no perfection. Only the joy of being open to the possibilities. Hey, just because it’s pretentious doesn’t mean it’s not true.

It was good to have some outdoorsy friends in my squad who could suffer a little bit and still feel refreshed afterwards. That’s what I’m talkin’ about. It’s also good to have outdoors friends who bring snacks.

We’ll see what I can get into this season. I am unleashed.

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