Staircase Campground 1/13/18
Camping in the winter has always been a crazy concept for me. Coming from Montana where you need a lot of expensive cold weather gear to make it even feasible, its always been something that I've never wanted to try (because sleeping on snow in negative temps is not my version of fun).
However, since I moved to Washington, the winters are far more mild. Even if they are slightly more wet.
With this newfound opportunity begging to be taken advantage of, my friend Matt and I headed to the coast to do some reconnecting with each other and our selves. He had recently returned from a sabbatical in Central America, and was anxious to get back to the mountains. So, when a rare sunny day presented itself, we took our chance.
It was a great experience to get out, as it's so easy to get cooped up and depressed in the winter for me. The constant rain and grey are deterrents for those who like to camp, but here in Washington, I am learning that you just need to deal with it. And even sunny days here get rainy pretty quick, so we headed to camp before it could start on us.
The campground we picked was Staircase, on the outskirts of the Olympic Mountains. It is called such because of the Staircase Rapids that are a short walk from the campsite. However, about a mile before the road reached the sites, we came across a little problem. There wasn't really any road left.
Apparently the road had been washed out, so we grabbed our packs, almost fell into the river off the slippery log bridge, and started the arduous one mile flat hike on a paved road to the campground.
What followed was a bit of a surreal experience. This was obviously a popular place in the summer to come camp, but due to the season and lack of, well, a road, there was no one there.
We ended up staying in a massive campground with no humans to be bothered by. Apocalyptic? Yes. Better than normal car camping? Hell yes. We chose the best spot by the river, and Matt put up his Nicaraguan hammock while I put up my tent.
It was a great night, mainly because how wet and cold it was. We spent about an hour and a half trying to build a fire with soaking wet wood, and were actually successful, although it only flared up by blowing on it. We had a long starlit walk after the evening mist cleared, and talked about relationships and the hurt some of them have caused. And then we both went to bed around 8, to both read and to be warm again.
I often forget how good for the soul that getting out and camping is. I believe that it is a necessity, especially given how wrapped up we are in social media, terrible daily news, and the crippling anxiety that comes from our culture at the moment. It reminds you that you are a part of something greater. It is reminiscent of what our ancestors felt, treading that line between danger and peace. And most of all, it brings us out of where we are at in our bustling lives and shows us that pointlessly trying to build a fire for hours by pre-heating sopping wood on your camp stove can be more soothing and purposeful than hours of therapy.