Still Trying to Learn

After spending two freezing nights in Guadalupe Mountains National Park, I decided to spend a night in a motel. Although I didn’t sleep any better inside than outside, I feel rested and replete. A movie last evening amused me, though why I enjoyed all that destruction in San Andreas Fault, I haven’t a clue except perhaps that for the first time in five years I am not living a mere ten miles from the fault. And a complimentary breakfast this morning restored me. (Gotta love a waffle shaped like Texas.)

Now I’m about to head south into what I hope will be warmer nights. (It helps that the region is going through a warming trend.)

And if the nights are still too cold, I can always double tent again.

When people would ask me what I will do if it gets cold at night and I’d respond that I’ll put my packpacking tent inside my big tent, they either laughed or stared at me in confusion. Whoever heard of such a thing? But other people subsequently recommended it, and it worked. It was only in the early morning chill that I got too cold for comfort. I also discovered something vital. Those temperature ratings on sleeping bags and camping quilts are the temperature the bags will keep you alive, not comfortable. I still have to work on the comfort factor. Maybe a sheet? I really do not like the feel of nylon. If I put the sheet over top the camping quilt, it might help to hold the warmth in and would feel more comfortable tucked beneath my chin.

I’m still working on quicker and easier ways to set up and tear down camp, still trying to learn the best way to live as normally as I can in my abnormal (but rapidly becoming normal) lifestyle.

I’m also using more of my equipment. I actually got out my little Solo stove the other night to brew a couple of much needed cups of tea, and the stove worked great. I used Heet for the fuel, a secret I’d learned online. Not only did the water boil rapidly, but the fuel didn’t blacken the pot as twigs would have done. Heet is also cheap and easy to pour, and can be used when the burning of twigs and other botanicals is forbidden. (So far I have not camped any place where you can gather wood to burn.)

I have learned a few other things: never pass up a chance to do laundry, and in the sparsely traveled areas, never pass up a chance to get fuel or use the restrooms. (Believe me, if you stop on the side of a seemingly no-traffic road because of a urinary emergency, as soon as it’s too late to do anything about your exposure, there will be a near traffic jam.)

Well, time to get packed and move on down the road. See you in Big Bend National Park.

***

(Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)

***

16 Responses to “Still Trying to Learn”

  1. John J Beck Says:

    Do you sleep in sweat pants and sweatshirt when it’s cold? Even long underwear covered with sweats helps.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      My legs don’t get cold. Up top, I’ve tried one base layer plus a sweat shirt, two base layers plus a sweat shirt, two layers plus a sweatshirt and parka.  Doesn’t seem to make any difference.

      (Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)

  2. Chuck and Heidi Thurston Says:

    A couple of suggestions from an old backpacker (if you have not worked these out already)
    1. When you take off your clothes, stuff them in the bottom of the sleeping back and you will be putting on warm clothes in the morning.
    2. You MUST have an insulated pad between the bottom of your bag and the tent floor, or you are essentially sleeping on the ground. They are generally foam and not expensive. Absent this, a lot of your body heat is wicked away through the think nylon layer between you and de col,’ col’ ground.
    3. Wear your socks and buy a watch cap to put on your head and pull over your ears if you are sleeping in cold weather.
    4. You can buy a flannel liner for sleeping bags. Really cozy.
    5. The tent fly is not just for rain. It provides an insulating layer of air in cold weather. Your double tenting would do the same.

    Good luck on your travels.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Thank you. Since I am just a rank amateur, I appreciate all suggestions.  And yes, I am using a pad. Two in fact. An accordion pad and an insulated blow up pad. I think the problem is me. My metabolism drops in the early morning hours. I did use hand warmers one morning — stuck them in my clothes.  Seemed to help.

      (Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)

  3. Lisha Says:

    I read your blogs from a fb link .. and on my phone, so I don’t comment. I want you to know I really enjoy reading them. You are so much braver than I!! Doing something I have dreamt of doing but bottom line I know I wouldn’t. I have driven from GA to SD but rarely go off the beaten path and have never attempted camping when I do this. I don’t have any advice for you concerning the cold. Hopefully it will get warmer although Spring seems to have it’s own pattern set up and warm is not always a part of it!!
    I did not realize that you had written novels and I am adding you to my list. I enjoy your writing and am sure I would enjoy it in fiction also.

  4. Coco Ihle Says:

    Pat, I had to laugh at your comment about making sure to take advantage of bathroom facilities when available. I got caught “in a traffic jam” only once and learned that lesson well! Ha, ha, ha! You are something else! I’m rooting for you!

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I’m not sure what that “else” is, but thank you.

      (Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)

  5. Hettie Says:

    Regarding the sheet in your sleeping bag – we used a real silk one and it really works

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Thank you for the suggestion. 

      (Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)

  6. Kathy Says:

    Wow! I’m really impressed!

  7. Terri Says:

    Love your postings too! I would love to camp too, but the cold would get to me. Layers are good and the extra sheet, flannel or silk is a plus. Enjoy your travels. Thanks for sharing. You are amazing!

  8. Holly Says:

    I swear by polar fleece. Go to Walmart and get the largest polar fleece blanket you can find, double it and you should be good. It doesn’t have to be an expensive one to work. I use mine year round.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Good idea. I had planned to bring a small comforter with a fleece back, but it took up too much space for something I thought wasn’t a necessity, but a fleece blanket would pack small. 

      (Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)

  9. Norm Brown Says:

    Just a word of warning. There is a stretch on I-10 with no gas stations for almost 70 miles. It was a challenge when I had a motorcycle with a small tank. The speed limit out there is 80 mph. So, your mileage can vary. On bike camping trips during cold weather I bring along one of those cheap fleece bags you can get at Walmart. I slip it inside my nylon bag. Adds another layer and I like the feel of the material.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Texas is a challenge!

       I can only go 55 mph, at least that’s what my mechanic said, though the car can go much faster, so everything takes me a long time to do. 

      I’ll have to check out the cheap fleece bags from Wal-Mart.

      (Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)


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