Best Camping Spots: Occupational Hazards

Avid hiker Kristen Russell wants to be sure you know a few things before camping in the Northwest.
Kristen Russell  |   June 2010   |  FROM THE PRINT EDITION
Car camping along the Hoh River

No matter the forecast, in the Northwest you must be prepared for rain. That crazy nylon sheet that came with your tent—the one covered with toggles and cords and pulleys—is called a rain fly. Use it! And don’t skip the tarp under your tent; if you do, you could wake up to see your flashlight floating past.

Tip: When it rains (and it will), create your own blue sky with artfully arranged blue tarps.
And yes, your firewood will get wet if you leave it uncovered.
• Hanging slugs of the Hoh Rain Forest: Myth? Or disturbing reality? 
• Gray jays are called “camp robbers” for a reason. Likewise, squirrels and raccoons. Remember: Wildlife is your enemy; it is after your snacks. Bring giant plastic tubs and keep food sealed inside; lock them in your car at night.
• Also: marmots = mangy, lumbering rodents; do not pat or attempt to scratch under the chin.
Gear and apparel
• Acceptable campsite apparel includes “normal” clothing and several “themed” camping items, like skorts, zip-off convertible pants and Tevas. (Note: It’s pronounced TEH-vahs, people. And stop wearing them with socks!)
• Unless you are an endurance athlete—or are currently summiting something—that CamelBak just looks silly.
• Shirtless hiking is a fashion statement. Think before you make it.

• Chances are your dog is not as adorable to other campers as you think he is. Keep him quiet and respect leash laws. Same goes for kids. Except the leash part.
• That guy in the site next to yours? With the guitar? He really gets going at midnight. Pack earplugs. Storming over to neighboring campsites to demand quiet is usually a losing battle. Likewise, if you have a guitar—but not a gold record—do not assume that others want to hear you play after 10 p.m.
• Little-known hiking fact: When passing other hikers on the trail, whoever is going uphill has the right of way. Also, stay on the trail—short-cutting switchbacks erodes trails, kills vegetation and looks wussy, to boot.
• When rinsing the Sumatra grounds out of your French press, do not clog the communal camp drain.

Originally published in July 2010