The summer is winding down, and with it come reminiscences of some great camping experiences. One I’ll never forget is my first time camping alone. It was December 2013 and the weather was gorgeous in Southern California as I packed my SUV and headed up the coast to Big Sur without a site reservation. I was somewhat nervous about this, but a friend who knew the area well had encouraged me, and so off I went. Once I left the city behind and started winding my way up this beautiful coastal route, one of the nation’s most scenic, my entire body relaxed and I felt the rhythm of this special place.
The first campground I encountered was Plaskett Creek, part of the Los Padres National Forest, almost directly across from Sand Dollar Beach, the largest sandy beach in the Big Sur area. I drove in and circled the sites, but every one was taken. Hmm, I thought, as the muscles in my shoulders and neck tensed up. I soldiered on up the road until I came to Limekiln State Park, another popular spot apparently, because there was the forbidding “campground full” sign in plain view.
Not one to give up, I crept up the Pacific Coast Highway, palms sweating slightly, until I came to Kirk Creek, another campground that’s part of the national forest, with each site overlooking the Pacific Ocean. I made the left turn into the small park and began circling with eyes like a hawk searching for its prey. Bingo, a site was available but just for one night. Okay! No problem. I’ll take it. I went round and found the host, paid the fee, and set up for the evening.
It got dark early, so after dinner and sitting by the fire for a while, I decided to turn in. I awoke around 5 am and opened the fly to my tent. To my astonishment I saw the setting of the moon below the horizon. I was transfixed. I’d never seen a moonset before or since, but its grandeur was imprinted indelibly in my mind.
As for solo camping, I’ve never looked back! Don’t misunderstand, I love camping with the Gourmet Girls, too, but it’s a totally different experience than when you’re on your own. I highly recommend it! The rewards of camping alone can be significant: the chance to experience profound solitude, build self-reliance, and encounter the subtleties of the natural world without distractions.
Do you have a favorite camping experience you’d like to share? If so, please let us know in the comment box below.