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Leif Zurmuhlen

Into the Woods
C’mon, give your mattress a night off
By Travis Durfee

Tired of filling your summer days with cocktails on the roof and charming conversation? Have bottled water and barefoot Frisbee days in the park grown stale? Never forget the age-old pastime of camping and the oh-so-many possibilities that lie therein.

Into roughin’ it? Take a trip on one of the many intra- and interstate hiking trails located within driving distance and really get back to nature. The Long Path starts locally in Thacher Park and traverses to just north of New York City, and the 14-state Appalachian Trail slices through western Massachusetts just an hour’s drive away. With two cars—one to park at your destination and one to jetty you back to a starting point—you can easily strap a rucksack to your back, lace your boots up tight and head for a camping spot halfway. Gather some wood, crack a can of beans to warm in the fire, and roll out your mummy bag for a night under the stars.

Dig the idea of camping but not the dirt-on-your-shoes reality of trucking through the woods to find a spot? You could always car camp and really put your SUV to use. Just drive right into the nearest campground, pull up to your spot and pitch a tent. (Though if you’re into car camping, you probably have some small device that unfurls into a six-room tent with a breezeway when you fling it into the air—whatever feels right.)

Got an acquaintance you really hate? You can always rope ‘em into a weekend camping expedition in the Adirondacks for black-fly season. There are still a few weeks left! Sure, you run the risk of getting nibbled to hell and back yourself, but if you know what you’re getting into, you can plan ahead. Rub yourself down with insect repellent for a solid week beforehand. Or better yet, bring some scentless repellent along with you—just hide it. Smear it on when you go to relieve yourself behind the oak tree. Just tell your campmate that bugs have never liked the way you taste and watch the jerk get chomped.

There is always the romantic outdoors getaway. Nothing brings out primal lust better than a decent bottle of wine, a crackling campfire and a secluded spot in the woods. Consider: S’mores are most certainly an aphrodisiac, no one can hear you scream, and sticky skin just begs for the removal of clothing. Besides, is there a better way to get some good sack time with a scared mate than to snap a few sticks and offer up a low coyote howl as you slip off into the dark for a whizz? Hell no.

So there you have it. The woods, the great outdoors, where Thoreau lived and the bear shits. Whether you’re a park-and-rider, a trailblazer or a KOAer, camping can offer a both a good time and a new appreciation for your mattress.


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