Having only previously camped outside in my backyard as a child, I thought I was a seasoned camper. After all, calling M&M’s at 10 p.m. a midnight snack along with wearing glow stick necklaces and talking about the wilderness with my family was sure to prepare me for all that “real” camping had in store.
But going back inside that night with my family, at around 10:30 p.m., because of discomfort on the bumpy ground, did not at all qualify me for what was in store last Friday night.
Perhaps Katy Perry’s lyrics were spot on to describe my Friday night: “a stranger in my bed,” and a “pounding in my head” sum up just a few of the emotions and feelings that night.
Friday night I endured 68 km winds, slept outside and froze with fear at the thought of an animal scratching at my tent to uncover a hole and snuggling up to me.
I started up the mountain at 5 p.m. to a secluded area that I was looking forward to spending a relaxing night — one with nature. My boyfriend and I scouted the area for the perfect place to rest our sleepy heads, carefully inspecting the ground for anything that would make me uncomfortable.
We threw our food over a tree to ensure safety from animals and sustenance that included a delicious breakfast of beef jerky to wake up to.
When bed time rolled around, quite a different turn of events transpired. Wind speeds picked up to about 30 to 40 mph throughout the night. Although I was earlier warned that, “You’re going to be hearing a lot of noises tonight,” I did not expect that every leaf blown in my direction would resemble the sound of a mountain lion walking toward the tent.
I would freeze with fear, sit up, look around into complete darkness and snuggle into the sleeping bag so that I was not exposed at all –– as if this position would save me from a wild animal.
The wind speeds picked up, and with them, so did my fear.
Working in Yellowstone National Park is probably the product of my panic that night. I have been the witness of animal attacks taunted by uneducated tourists, and I have been the voice of reason in many outdoor tours when guests have tried to play, “smack the buffalo and run.”
But that night I had to be my own voice of reason. While thoughts of tornadoes, raccoons and mountain lions drifted through my head I had reassured myself that, at this point, animals were the least of my concern. I was comforted with the thought that, with this wind, any animal avoiding shelter is completely crazy –– including myself. But the sound of the leaves brushing against the tent constantly woke me up and re-instilled the initial fear.
Once I finally fell asleep, I awoke to our rain fly blowing in the wind with only a stake holding it down. We were conscientious to secure it earlier, but the intense wind speeds took over.
After crawling back into the sleeping bag shaking from the unfamiliar noises, feelings and conditions that night, I realized that my camping experience could almost sum up my experience through college.
My junior year is almost over. It’s been a crazy ride filled with strange conditions, strange animals (smelly ones too) and terrible conditions (like taking an exam in Eddy when the power is out).
But throughout these years at CSU and camping, I’ve learned that we can’t let our fears control us. Instead, we have to be able to recognize the uncontrolled parts of our life and take them as they come.
If a raccoon is going to snuggle up to me in the middle of the night, then it’s going to happen. Being scared about it will do nothing. If a tornado decides to whisk me away on top of a mountain, worrying about it won’t stop it.
If a skunk decides to spray its stank on me, it’s going to happen, and I’m going to have to write a column on tomato baths.
And although these situations may present themselves, what we can do is prepare ourselves for the worst, strive for the best and go through life accepting the things we can’t control, leading the things we can and keep an open mind with any activity that comes our way.
And unlike what Katy Perry says, we can’t always “do it all again.” Rather, we need to do it now.
Lydia Jorden is a junior business major. Her column appears Thursdays in the Collegian. She can be reached at email@example.com.