Camping and the Intensity of Parenthood

Last week we had our first camping trip of the year! This was a special trip not only because it was the first of 2014, but also because it was our first camping trip with just the three of us as our little family. Other trips have always included friends, or other family members. We were a little worried as the weather was predicting rain, rain, thunderstorms, rain, but in the end it turned out to be a great trip!

The drive up was beautiful. Then again, I always think New Hampshire is beautiful! But up in the mountains especially. We were camping nestled in the White Mountains, and it’s just lovely.

mountain1 mountain2

I love my state!

Setting up camp is always quite the operation. We actually ended up getting the tarp all set up, then tearing it down and re-doing it in a much more efficient manner. Luckily, we can do all this with laughter and smiles instead of frustration. And our little was certainly occupied:

MUD! river view mud play

MUD!! Seriously, give my girl some mud and she’s entertained for hours. I picked this site as it was right on the river, and it was exactly what I was hoping for! A nice shallow section where she can wade, float things, play in the water and mud – perfect!

campsite2 campsite

Our site was great – plenty of space, great view of the woods and river, and really close to the bathroom facility which is always handy with a little. I’m used to camping with no actual bathrooms, so this felt pretty luxurious!

bubbles1 bubbles2

Bubbles are a camping necessity.

snack and painting

As are snacks and portable art projects.

kettle corn

Speaking of snacks my love of kettle corn is out of control. I had to stop myself from eating this whole bag on the first night. I only get it a couple times a year, and it is SO GOOD!

cheesy potatoes

Om nom nom fire roasted bacon-cheddar potatoes.

fire

reading

So serious discussions reading around the campfire. ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ can get pretty intense. 😉

smores nom

And of course, you can’t have camping without s’mores.

You may be wondering where the title of this post comes from. Well, around 9pm on the first night it’s getting pretty dark out, the little miss is sound asleep in the tent and the hubs and I are just chilling out doing more reading by the fire. Our camp neighbor from across the way goes jogging by saying, “Keep an eye out, there’s a black bear in my site.” My first thought is, ‘COOL!’, immediately followed by, ‘Good gravy there’s a black bear across the road from me, what should I do?’. Really, the answer is not much. Black bears are not naturally hostile (with the exception of a mother/cub territory situation) and in this case, the bears just want food. Inexperienced campers leave food out all the time, and the bears know this. Therefore, once it’s dark, out they come looking for food! So our camp neighbor comes back with the ranger from the lodge, they chase it off, and all is well. At this point, since we were still up, we had our food out. We immediately moved it all into the car! And then commenced with some candle-light cribbage.

late night cribbage

Almost right after I took this photo (it’s now about 10:30pm), our directly-next-door neighbors (vs. across the road like before) shout out, “The bear’s here!”. The ranger, who had been around still, runs over and chases it off. So my hubs turns around with the flashlight, and lo and behold about six feet away is the 350 – 400lb black bear lumbering into our campsite. We back up, and at this point my adrenaline has started peaking. Cue title of this post. The bear is wandering around our tarp, over to the table which is right next to our tent. Where my sleeping three year old lays peacefully. At this point, all logic is out the window. I know the bear isn’t hostile. I know it doesn’t give a hoot about my sleeping child in the tent. But all I can focus on is GIANT BEAR IN VICINITY OF CHILD. Yes, I’m pretty sure my inner voice was speaking Tarzan-style at this point. I am now gripping my hubs arm and my own chest, weighing the pros and cons of charging a bear. I had originally intended to call this post ‘Camping and the Intensity of Motherhood’ but then I remembered what my husband did next. Which was charge the bear. He stomped towards it, shaking the flashlight and yelling, and the bear took off right away. So clearly, you don’t just have to be a mom to do crazy things to save your child, even if the saving is purely in your head and there isn’t too much real danger! And despite the commotion, the little miss slept through the whole ordeal.

I have always considered camping a leisure activity. I’ve known about bears, been camping in the mountains and woods since I was little, and the idea of a bear never scared me. And to be honest, the bear itself wasn’t what scared me. It was the thought of anything happening to the precious little being I created. How I’m scared to let her out of my sight when she’s playing at the river even if it’s only eight inches deep. How I constantly wonder if she’s warm enough while she runs around in the rain stomping in puddles and laughing like a loon. Being a parent, those thoughts are just there. Without even thinking about it. And it’s situations like this where sometimes, despite her being three and a half, the reality of parenthood rears up and smacks me in the face again. I am responsible for a raising a life. Awesome.

We did hear the bear again later that night (well, early morning). I’m assuming it was around 3AM and I awoke to what sounded like a horse right next to my head. All snorting and heavy breathing. It lumbered around, and I heard it digging through our bathroom bag and then it must have wandered off after finding no food. It did, however, put holes in all the baggies that held our toothbrushes and hairbrushes!

bear print

Unfortunately by the time we got up in the morning it has been raining for a bit and most of the tracks were gone, but I did manage to snag a pic of this one in the soft sand by the river. And we did see some much smaller and friendlier creatures on our trip!

chipmunk2 chipmunk1

The chipmunks were always around and so cute. They have absolutely no fear of people (this guy walked directly over my shoe), and were thrilled to have a messy three year old eating in our site! Free snacks!

moth

This little moth hung around for quite awhile. The little miss was so excited to hold it!

Despite a very rain filled day, it did let up enough for us to take an awesome hike!

hike1

Fabulous tree growing over a rock.

hike2 hike3 hike4 hike5

We didn’t actually finish the whole trail. It was only 1.6 miles, but that’s a lot for tiny legs, and as you can see it was very rocky. At one point we rounded a corner and it was practically straight up, with really big boulders and rocks. The hubs and I just looked at each other and I knew we were picturing the same thing: rock + rain + steep incline = three year old slipping off a cliff to certain death. At that point we headed back!

I remember hiking up steep trails and climbing up the boulders with my dad when I was a little one. He used to call me his Little Mountain Goat, a nickname I wore with pride. I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to my dad for climbing like a maniac and running right up to every edge of every cliff and scaring the shit out of him, as my little now does to me. Cliffs and little kids are heart attack inducing, yet I remember how it felt to do it when I was young, how you felt like you’d conquered the world and could look down upon it’s glory. I loved heights back then, and still do. But viewing it with the eyes of a parent now, it’s such an odd mix of pride and terror to watch my own child do it!

That night brought an onslaught of rain. Torrential. If you look below, the first picture is the river pre-rain night, and the second is the next morning. It’s about two feet higher. That’s some serious rain!

water level

But despite the bear, which is actually really cool in restrospect; I can now say I’ve been within six feet of a big ole blackbear, and the rain, our trip was great. Lots of relaxing, playing, and outdoor adventure. The best way to spend a summer! We were most definitely happy campers.

happy camper

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4 thoughts on “Camping and the Intensity of Parenthood

  1. Jenn says:

    This looks like an awesome place to camp and it sounds like you had a good time despite everything. I would have been scared out of my mind if a bear came through my campsite. I’m sure I’ll run into that situation eventually, but thankfully I’ve been bear-free up until this point in life, haha! I can only imagine what goes through the mind of a parent, though after reading this I feel like I need to apologize to my mom for some of the things I did as a kid. I probably gave her a heart attack on more than one occasion.

    • kaycreate says:

      Right?! I’m thinking back on all the stupid stuff I did as a kid, and wondering how I’ll deal with my own little doing it! And even though I’ve camped my whole life, this was the first run in with a bear for me too!

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