The Lean-to Virgin, A Comical Journey

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By Janiel Green

My first backpacking trip turned out to be an utter disaster. The trip consisted of a backpacking, snow-shoeing trip up the mountaineering route at Mount Whitney in California. I labeled myself as a failure, and the weak link in the party of 3 whom attempted the trip. Granted it was my first time backpacking and had not been prepared for the struggles that were endured.

My trip started to unravel when I realized I had inadvertently grabbed the wrong sleeping bag for the November camping trip. I remember laying down to sleep and my shivering turned into jaw shattering convulsions of my body attempting not to freeze. It was the only time in my life I was afraid to fall asleep, because I did not think I would not wake up — I wanted to appear tough, so I stayed silent.

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I said many prayers the next morning when after an emergency blanket, hand warmers on arteries, and my down jacket literally saving my life I decided to always be properly prepared for my subsequent camping trips.

My next camping trip was also to Yosemite National Park, but it was a trip in September and we were packing in our tubes to float on a lake. My roommates at the time & I paired off to help ensure we didn’t forget anything.

 

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My sense of accomplishment came from my list of things I would need. My camping skills were significantly more adept for summer and fall camping then they were for winter camping to be sure. I was paired with my roommate who I lovingly call Jelly Bean, she had far less equipment than I, so I volunteered to gather the needed supplies and food.

lean-to 4With our packs set and the car loaded, we headed southwest from Las Vegas Nevada to our destination. We arrived around 11 am and immediately set out on the trail. I am a slow hiker & had to be kind to myself during the hike that it was only my second time doing a backpacking trip, so it is ok that I was the slow one in the group. I find that if I use my hiking poles it becomes significantly easier for me, due to the fact that I have a constant fire like pain in my feet from  Plantar Fasciitis. If I had one piece of advice to readers here, it is to be kind to yourself during these times — you are doing more than 3/4 of those sitting at home on the couch watching Netflix all weekend. If it takes you longer to climb, hike or walk….who cares…..you are moving and not letting self-doubt and fear stop you from exploring your own boundaries.

My companions were kind and offered frequent stops for me, and encouraged nourishment along the way to help Jelly Bean and myself keep going.

lean-to 5When we finally arrived at our camping location, I was so excited to pull out my two-man tent and use it in the REAL WILDERNESS. I pulled out the tent sack, and after unrolling it realized with a sinking feeling that the only thing contained within was the fly & the little bit of sand from the prior trip.

I panicked……what was I going to tell Jelly Bean……..I just stood there trying to conjure the actual tent with my mind. Jelly Bean came over and asked, “What is wrong Janiel?” …….I replied softly, “Uhhhhh, we have a problem”.

 

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I’m so glad Jelly Bean is a good sport because she just laughed at me and said, “Of course you forget the tent! Guess we are sleeping with the bugs tonight”.  I promised her that we would have adequate shelter from the cold, and there are plenty of people who camp with much less than what we had. A lean-to was decided upon, and the comedy continued. We had the fly, a tarp, and there was a large fallen tree and plenty of rocks.

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lean-to 8I tied the strings on the fly around a few rocks, threw them over the fallen tree and Jelly Bean did the same for the other side, but just tacked the strings down to a pile of rocks at the other end to anchor it.

There were tree limbs everywhere so we stacked rocks and bark on the side of the lean two where the breeze was coming in & some branches on the other side with pine needles as our door. Sleeping bags were inserted and we still had enough daylight to fix our dinner.

Our other roommates who were John Muir Trail Veterans & highly versed in camping supplies watched us build this with entertainment value to rival that of HBO. After all was said and done, Jelly Bean and I were quite proud of our Lean-to and when put to the test it worked exceptionally well.

So, if you ever find yourself lacking supplies in the wilderness, just be creative, mother nature always provides a way. Despite my forgetfulness, Jelly Bean and I now have a memorable story and a certain pride for surviving in Yosemite with our Lean-to (#wildernessbeasts).

 

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Happy Travels, Happy Tales and see you on the flip side! Big thanks to Camping for Women for allowing me to be a part of this amazing group and hope to share more adventures with you in the future.

                                                                                                                                                                                   

Author: Janiel Green from https://culturetrekking.com/

Janiel is a Physician Assistant with a Passion for helping people and traveling.

Culture Trekking LLC and its community are committed to connecting culture, exploring without boundaries, finding unique adventures and serving those throughout the world.

Janiel has been able to visit 5 of 7 continents and 16 of 196 countries and she hopes to visit all 196 within her lifetime.

 

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51 thoughts on “The Lean-to Virgin, A Comical Journey

  • November 11, 2017 at 4:49 am
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    I love your post because I also love camping with friends, tracking and other adventures. It was a great write up and so fun to read.

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  • November 7, 2017 at 11:48 am
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    Camping is one of my favorite past times! But due to professional life, I cannot give enough time for camping. Although we are planning a camping for the coming month.Your story and pictures are awesome! It’s urging to go to the camping now!

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  • November 7, 2017 at 12:26 am
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    It sounds like you indeed had a great time and I love how creative you both became with the tent problem. Camping used to be one of my favorite things to do in the summer time. We haven’t went camping since my boys were little though. It is something I hope we can do next summer. Thanks for sharing your story.

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  • November 6, 2017 at 7:54 pm
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    Now that’s what I call a survival skill! No tent, no problem (though I’d imagine this was the last time this ever happened). You can built lean-tos like this using sticks/branches and leaves/grass, too: make the structure with wood, cover up with whatever material you find. Of course, you can’t chop wood or forage in a national park, so might as well just bring a tent…

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  • November 6, 2017 at 3:50 pm
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    I’ve never gone backpacking before but we live where the weather is basically perfect all the time! I’ll have to get a group interested in this! You guys look like you’ve had lots of fun!

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    • November 6, 2017 at 9:19 pm
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      It really was so much fun! Soooo funny, and now have a fun story to tell from it 😉

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  • November 6, 2017 at 5:50 am
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    I’ve always wanted to go backpacking! I have friends that live for it and it always sounds like a great time.

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  • November 6, 2017 at 5:11 am
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    I have to say that this is an incredible story, purely because of how truthful it is. Enjoyed reading!

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    • November 6, 2017 at 9:21 pm
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      Hahahaha! Yes there was a lot of truth in it – I saved the upclose photo of my butt that my roommate took of me for another day 😝 I had to learn the hard way that there is such a thing as being “too open” lol – glad you enjoyed it

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  • November 6, 2017 at 4:23 am
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    I just loved this post, I mean how much better does it get camping for women!! So cool, I love it!!

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    • November 6, 2017 at 9:22 pm
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      Awe thank you so much! I really appreciate that! Really put myself out there with this one 😉

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  • November 5, 2017 at 11:28 pm
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    Oh man those are some unfortunate situations. You’re very tough though and recsilient. I might never would’ve went back after the first failed attempt lol. Kudos to you!

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    • November 6, 2017 at 9:24 pm
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      Thanks so much! If it was winter time it would have been an utter disaster, luckily it was a cool fall camping conundrum

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  • November 5, 2017 at 9:34 pm
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    Hi Janiel! Haha, this sounds like a proper adventure! Loved reading this personal and very lively post. Keep it up!

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  • November 5, 2017 at 9:15 pm
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    OMG! That’s a difficult situation. Too bad you packed the wrong sleeping bag. Forgot the tent? That’s much worse!!! Glad you managed somehow! One heck of an experience this is!

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  • November 5, 2017 at 8:16 pm
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    I used to love camping I couldn’t do it now however, which is a shame. It looks like a lovely place to camp for those who can.

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    • November 6, 2017 at 9:26 pm
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      Oh darn! You can always go camping in your backyard!! I use to do that all the time as a kid, lol – on the trampoline 😉

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  • November 5, 2017 at 4:15 pm
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    My goodness your first experience sounds scary! You and your friend are good sports for toughing it out even without a tent. Very innovative with the lean-to haha at least you got through the night without an emergency blanket!

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    • November 6, 2017 at 9:27 pm
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      Yes, we snuggled up and found it almost warmer than a traditional tent to be honest! Glad you enjoyed it!

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  • November 5, 2017 at 2:29 pm
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    I can so much relate to this. My first camping(university project) was a total mess. I championed myself as the camp planner only for me to regret my actions. Thanks to my cooperative camp mates who enjoyed my flopped innovative. Since then, I have been very careful with prep prior to camping. And I enjoy so much reading people share their camping experiences.

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    • November 6, 2017 at 9:28 pm
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      Everyone has that ONE trip they feel like a camping fool, lol. Creativity is the best thing you can pack 😉

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  • November 5, 2017 at 12:05 pm
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    That was a very scary incident you shared. I would not be able to sleep in such as situation too. Good to see that you survived to tell the tale. The best thing about travel is that it teaches you what no text book can.

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    • November 6, 2017 at 9:29 pm
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      Agreed – love the camping challenges though 😉 makes for good stories to tell the kids, lol

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  • November 5, 2017 at 8:46 am
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    I’m the worst camper so I can totally relate to your mishaps! Still, we all have to learn somewhere, and travelling gives us the opportunity to do so. I’m sure now you’re an experienced hiker, and make no more rookie errors!

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    • November 6, 2017 at 9:29 pm
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      Well- I still overpack now- probably PTSD from these types of conundrums, lol

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  • November 5, 2017 at 7:49 am
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    This was such a fun post to read. I feel like she is taking words from my own mouth. I’ve never done camping nor hiking before and I am not really a fan to be honest But this is so encouraging – it makes me want to give it a try, because at least you’ll have that experience to look back on.

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    • November 6, 2017 at 9:31 pm
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      Exactly! I always say that the things that are the hardest are the things you should do the most, because those are the ones that teach you the best! Just make sure u go with friends, so u can have the cuddle buddy warmth & someone to pull you up the mountain (aka bring your dog, lol)

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  • November 5, 2017 at 3:27 am
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    The first thing we do before going camping is checking the tent. That way we know it is clean and no new holes!

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    • November 6, 2017 at 9:32 pm
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      Good advice for sure! I have one that ran into a mishap with a Roman candle, lol! That is the backyard tent now

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  • November 4, 2017 at 11:11 pm
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    I love camping! Everything about being outdoors is my cup of tea

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  • November 4, 2017 at 9:34 pm
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    We are the same type of camper! I like camping in hotel rooms and sometimes very modernly equipped cottages but that’s the extent of it. I think the universe is telling you to stop sleeping in tents in the middle of the woods!

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    • November 6, 2017 at 9:34 pm
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      Hahahahah!! NEVER! I looooove the challenge, except when it comes to directions, I don’t like that particular challenge, lol

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  • November 4, 2017 at 7:57 pm
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    I give you a lot of credit! Although I do love glamping, I’m not a camper at all and would totally have turned around and gone home! At least now you have a good story to share and a well-deserved sense of accomplishment!

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    • November 6, 2017 at 9:35 pm
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      Hahah! Clamping 🙂 or camping ⛺️- I like either one, and thanks for the compliment

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  • November 4, 2017 at 2:40 pm
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    I am totally not a camper. I do love hiking through parks and natural places, just not sleeping outside!

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    • November 6, 2017 at 9:35 pm
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      The ground is a little hard on the back, but you just learn to ignore it after 24 hours, lol

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  • November 4, 2017 at 1:53 pm
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    I haven’t gone camping since I was a kid but I used to love it so much!! I think it’s totally awesome you got to experience this trip with friends!!!

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    • November 6, 2017 at 9:37 pm
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      Yeah, it helped to go with friends to get past the fear of the last backpacking trip

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  • November 4, 2017 at 1:08 pm
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    I don’t think I could survive camping, much less without a tent lol. My husband I saw dying to go though, so I’m going to try the new experience .. with a tent of course lol.

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    • November 6, 2017 at 9:39 pm
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      Hahahahaha!!!! It’s always better when you have experienced people to go with – as long as they are willing to laugh at the mistakes and your awkward first timer camping moments- just don’t try to light a fire the first time u go, lol

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  • November 4, 2017 at 10:00 am
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    I wasn’t a big fan of camping until I found a great group of girlfriends to go with. I loved your story- mishaps are part of what makes the whole experience memorable later. Like you, I learned to wing it fast and work with what I had around me.

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    • November 6, 2017 at 9:39 pm
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      Glad I’m not the only forgetful one here – love the stories from the mishaps though lol

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  • November 4, 2017 at 1:52 am
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    Wow that is pretty innovative! I don’t know what I would do if I was out in the wilderness without a tent. I’ve camped a lot but never without that crucial bit of shelter.

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    • November 6, 2017 at 9:40 pm
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      I just said, “if the Indians and cowboys could do it, so can we” – when ya have no choice you make a choice 😉 glad u enjoyed the story!

      Reply

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