Why I Camp: Benefits of embodying the Dirtbag Lifestyle

The past two weekends I have had the pleasure of camping with people very close to my heart- my significant other and my roommate/best friend. For both of these excursions, I only packed one outfit and my camping gear, but also three bags of medical supplies. Sometimes, there is no true way to be minimalist and just carry a small sack on my back when diabetic supplies comes in multitude, but we make do and keep doing despite the extra weight. I guess something I think about, or don’t think about rather, is that the extra weight is not a barrier or “baggage,” it is just a necessity.

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20 Oct 2018

Morgan and I wake up to the roar of the Sioux River just below the cliff on which we set up camp. I go to check my PDM and find the device has froze throughout the night. It was my only night I forgot to put my devices inside my sleeping bag to maintain temperature balance to run properly. So I stuffed my PDM in my down jacket inner pocket for a few minutes to warm up and it was working just dandy moments later.

After I munch on some grapefruit and orange slices (low blood sugar), we start on our way down a social trail behind camp and follow the river upstream. The damp, muddy clay made for a slippery, sloshing hike full of laughs; autumn leaves covered the rest of the ground surrounding fallen trees. To add to our perfect moment sitting arm in arm on a rock in the middle of the river, my insulin pop decided to fail giving ring to the most horrendous sound. Of course, I had not brought my PDM along with me for this short morning hike, nor did I have a paperclip to end the ringing (to hit the reset button on the underside of the pod). Thus, we had to walk less gracefully back to camp to the sound of my personal siren over the roaring river. It was a moment to bring me out of nature’s white noise and back to the world of necessity and syringes.

But all in all, a pump failure is an easy fix and did not ruin our lovely morning, day or lives.

 

21 Oct 2018

A hike atop a mix of boardwalk planks, dirt tread, and mountain side carved steps lead us to the beautiful sea caves of the Apostle Island National Lake Shore (parking for free thanks to my free lifetime accessibility pass for all national public lands). Every so often we would stop to feel the leaves, the bark, the mushrooms growing on tree sides, and also remember to take some sips of water- hydrate or die-drate!

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Before climbing out onto a jutting out rock to see the sea caves, I dropped my pack on the ground and carried with me only my phone and Dexcom glucose monitor. Knowing my blood sugar was running in the 200s, I decided not to bring a low snack and climbed out onto a big rock!

Remember to take in those moments to sit and listen to the water and leaves, the deep growl of Lake Superior crashing into caves; to feel the sea air in your pores and nose and silty soil beneath your feet and fingers; and to hold the person you love in calm, quiet, appreciation. There are no words to be shared, no conversations needed to distract from the moment of allowing nature and love- mama earth’s greatest forces- to fill your lungs and hearts. I am humbled by feelings and emotions and genuine love.

 

Another night spent in our cozy Big Agnes feels like home.

Despite this tent being a two-person, it is not spacious enough for any backpacks. So each night I fit my necessities in the tent pocket and in a water repellent REI toiletry bag. I keep in the tent: extra pump, extra batteries, extra insulin, syringes, pen caps, back up meter, PDM, CGM monitor, phone, 2 Juiceboxes, glucagon, headlamp, pee rag and water bottle. Inside my sleeping bag, I stuff all of my extra clothes layers and socks, and keep my boots and Teva’s inside the rain fly entrance.

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22 Oct 2018

Today we set off to Houghton Falls. You wore a smile of pure curiosity met with reality and whimsical awe and I am thankful to have felt every emotion you radiated. This public space provides easy access to a natural phenomenon. It is heavy with geologic history and although ends with a magnificent view of Lake Superior, the entire hike is eye-catching. This hike is destination-less. It is an on-going journey and provides new sights and sounds with every visit. I am thankful to live within 30 minutes of this space.

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Our last night we spend in absolute solitude at Amnicon Falls State Park. The moon, almost full, acts as our headlamp, our guide. She is beautiful and bright and allows me to take a deep breathe of forest air. I am alive.

Once cozy in our tent, we share a home cooked vegan meal we made together before driving into the forest. It makes me happy to cook delicious vegan meals for those who are unaware of all of the glories that can arise from plant-based nutrition. I hope to continue to amaze your taste palette 🙂

 

23 Oct 2018

We finished our drive to Duluth, Minnesota. A short, chilly, breezy stroll along the lake-shore then an abundant brunch at a cute cafe made for a perfect last day.

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Upon sharing my beautiful moments with my housemates, my roommate and I decided to go camping the following weekend. Despite the time needed to put aside for homework: self love and health takes precedence. We must allow ourselves to be grounded with our mama earth and with our intuitive self. We must allow ourselves to breathe outside of the school buildings and fill our heads with knowledge outside of academia. We must thrive in nature.

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26 Oct 2018

Let’s find a spot to camp!

Bekah and I hit the road towards Bayfield County, no place in mind, in search of the perfect dirt to hold our tent. We enter the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest and after a few miles on dirt roads past logging sites and ATV trails, we find Birch Grove Campground. The tent went up, the fire went out (wood was too damp) and spirits rested in our crazy creeks in an eerie calm of a quiet, foggy lake.

 

27 Oct 2018

This morning we allow ourselves rest, we allow our bodies to sleep in past the sun and wait for the sun’s energy rays to fill us with solar energy. By mid-morning we are moving and by noon we are munching on our oatmeal breakfast. Our oats were nutrient packed with dates, almond butter for me and cashew butter for B, and banana.

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In the afternoon I find myself back at Meyer’s Beach hiking to the sea caves; this time, making it all the way to the sea caves. Bekah and I lean on a tree at the cave’s steep cliff and sink into the growl of Lake Superior rushing into this delicious rock formation. We sit and take in the beauty but also release our tensions and stress and allow the ground to mediate our souls. We are revived, we are alive, we are thriving. Thanks, for being by my side today.

 

 

With love from the Northwoods,

amanda

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