I am an outdoorsy nature loving girl. My parents took me camping since I was a baby. No frills. No “glamping” as they do in California (luxury camping with AC, a mattress, a fridge… in other words NOT CAMPING). Just good old fashion tent, sleeping bag and a campfire camping. Heather on the other hand was not familiar with camping, specifically tents. As we planned for Patagonia I mentioned we needed a tent and I would love to see if we could borrow a tent before I went to buy one. Heather text me within a week letting me know the Cook’s had a 2-person REI tent and they were happy to let us borrow it as long as we brought it back in a similar condition. Awesome! As we got closer to leaving Heather called me all excited. She told me that her mom, dad and her had set up the tent in the living room of her Chicago apartment. She was proud that she did it all by her self and was stoked to impress me with her speedy tent erecting skills.
Two weeks later we were in Torres del Paine on our way to base camp and the start of our hike. Heather nudged me as we both leaned over the railing of the double decker boat watching its wake. “Hey Car, I got something to tell you.” I turned to her. “So… the tent doesn’t have a floor,” she said looking incredibly worried. WTF? “Tents have floors.” I shook my head and repeated my statement. “Tents have floors!” The second time I said it with more urgency. “Well ours doesn’t Car,” she replied. My mind started running through all the spiders, scorpions, snakes and beetles that would be crawling into our sleeping bags with us tonight not to mention the inevitable bites we would wake up with all over our face and body. I began to scratch myself as my imagination had engaged my hypochondriac side. Who the hell brings a damn tarp to camp in Torres del Paine?
When we made it ashore, we set out to find the perfect place for us to set up our tent.. tarp.. camp. We walked past the concentration of tents to where the valley started to slope into the mountain. Then I noticed a ridge that would be perfect for us. Once I had hiked up the steep face to the top of the ridge I realized it might have been the perfect view for a picture out the window of the tent the next morning, but it was completely impractical. The ridge was covered in stinging nettles, thorns and burrs with spikes so delicate that you had to remove them with tweezer or else you would get multiple slivers from each burr. (Yeah I learned the hard way.) Heather got annoyed with my indecision when it came to picking the perfect spot to set up. She marched down the ridge to a plateau 20 feet above the valley floor and started setting up the tent. As I walked down towards her, I pointed out a dead animal carcass and we quickly grabbed our stuff and moved back down into the valley and closer to the safety of other campers.
Heather insisted she could set up the tent, so I walked over the small store inside the lodge. I bought us one box of Gato red wine and two “Patagonia” brand beers. It was going to be a long night. As I headed back over to Heather, who was now sitting on her backpack next to an REI tarp. She looked up at me. “What are we going to do Car? There’s no floor!” I busted up laughing. I explained to her that she had mixed up the tent and the rain cover. She had staked the cover and used the actual tent as a rain cover. I couldn’t stop laughing. I pulled out my phone and took a video of this and she started cracking up when she finally processed that we would be camping in an enclosed tent with a fricken floor. We laughed so hard we were crying tears of joy.
I took apart her constructed disaster still laughing as I remembered that her and her family had set this up once before and her mom and dad both though that was how the tent was suppose to work. Together, we put the tent up properly and once we had finished
we took a few steps back to admire our sleeping quarters for the next 7-8 days. Feeling relieved we hopped in and reorganized our backpacks. Around 11pm the sun was just starting to creep over the mountains and so we wrapped up our nesting, and headed to the shoreline to enjoy a beer with the other campers and watch the sunset. In the darkness we made our way through the tall grass back to our tent. As we lay there in our sleeping bags we started to hear the animal night life stirring around us. Growls, hoots and rustling noises were drowned out around 2 am when the storm finally hit. The sounds of a huge rain drops hitting the rain cover made me so grateful we had an amazing REI tent and not a tarp. The next morning we awoke well rested, free from bug bites and happy campers. The view when we unzipped the tent was incredible too. Chuckling as we broke down the tent in record time, Heather said… “So another thing.” I looked up from unsnapping the tent poles. “What,” I asked, not really wanting to know what this other thing was. “I forgot a rain jacket,” Heather said sheepishly. Haha “You’re killing me Heath!” (Heather’s trouble maker alter ego’s name) If its not one thing, it’s another.