May 15, 2016 — Day 36: Weekend Camping

My first camping trip of the spring/summer is almost here! This weekend I’ll be going on a brief overnight trip (Saturday to Sunday) at Point Beach State Park, just a few miles north of Manitowoc, WI. Point Beach has a pretty large car campground for people who bring trailers, pop-ups, and big family-style tents, but that’s not where I’ll be. Instead, I’m going to tag along with some of my friends who have reserved the kayak-in site, although nobody will be kayaking this weekend. I’ve seen some friends try it before, and Lake Michigan can be pretty challenging to kayak on — especially with how freezing cold the water is this time of year. The Kayak-in site is only two hundred yards from Lake Michigan, and is quite isolated from the rest of the campground.

My friend group takes multiple trips like this ever year, a bunch of people get together for one night camping trips at isolated locations one or two hours away from Milwaukee. Obviously longer trips would be better, but its so hard to get people together for long periods of time — everyone is just too busy and all have complex schedules. Its often amazing how many people we can get to attend even for the one night trips.

We’ve done a trip like this to Point Beach before, which I attended last summer or fall (it was cold out, but I can’t remember if it was just an unusually cold summer trip or a fall trip). The kayak site at Point Beach is strangely beautiful, despite being more desolate than you might expect. Wisconsin has a lot of oak, ash, and pine forests, so it feels a bit odd to mix it up and stay near a beach filled with scrub grass.

My brother is coming along for this trip, which is nice because I can kind of use him as my pack mule…packing for these trips is an exercise in minimalism since you have to either fit everything you have into a small boat or a backpack. Luckily I have two decently large hiking backpacks, so I’ll be able to saddle him with a bunch of stuff and not have to pack quite so light. The most difficult stuff to pack is always food, beer, and water. Food is a challenge because I inevitably want to bring eggs and meat, which are a challenge to keep cold when you are backpacking. If this were a longer backpacking trip I wouldn’t even bother with bringing such easily perishable food, but for one night I can work it out. I just bring a very small cooler with a frozen water bottle in it to keep things cool for one night. Beer is tough just simply because it is so heavy — the more beer I bring the more beer I have to drag through the woods on my back. Its important to hit a nice middle point with the beer quantity, I need enough that I don’t feel like I’m going to run out, but I want to have little to none of it left when I hike out. Water presents similar challenges as the beer does, but the especially hard part with water is that the more water I bring the less beer I can carry. Water isn’t optional though, so it requires a carefully decided amount, just like the other resources.

The backpacks are going to be heavy no matter how much beer and water I decide to bring unfortunately. The benefits of having my brother to carry stuff really start to kick in with some of the other non-optional items, namely my camp stove, fuel, tent, and backpacking chairs. These can be divided up between the two of us to make our lives a lot easier. It’ll be nice to not be packing solo this time.

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