On the trail: Camping – and other ways to end a relationship | AspenTimes.com

On the trail: Camping – and other ways to end a relationship

Ryan Slabaugh
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

Most partners in a relationship that has survived more than 24 hours know this: be careful what you ask each other to commit to, because if you choose wrong, it could end up ruining everything.

In this case, we’re talking about taking a romantic interest onto the trail and into a campsite. She, unknowing of what she signed on to, had agreed over the phone that when she visited, we could go camping.

She, a city girl with outdoor tendencies who spends a lot of time in the gym, had never camped before. As Labor Day weekend approached and she prepared to make the trip west, she started talking about what she was packing. As she described a few items, including a bear alarm, it began to dawn on me that, perhaps, this had not been the best idea.

Yet she got here, and I was thankful to spend time with her. We did city-like things the first night – concerts, dinner – but the next day, as we got ready to head out on the trail (one on Independence Pass), and as we got our gear together, it became more obvious that, in fact, I might have really messed up.

One example: She brought glow-in-the-dark bands, presumably so the bears could see us when we used the bathroom at night. I kept my mouth shut, for the most part. Needing to say something, I muttered, “Good idea,” before quickly changing the subject.

We got to the trail in good time and found a campsite. We set up a tent, collected firewood, put on our glowing bands and even found time to take a little nap after lunch. The bugs arrived soon enough, and even though she went out of her way to show me a mosquito bite on her shoulder, I was the one who eventually got perturbed enough to spend the evening swatting at everything in sight.

Soon, the experience was over, and we packed up our belongings, found our car and ventured back to town. My fears were long behind me, and we laughed at her ability to now cross “camping” off the proverbial bucket list. And she even got a nice bruise and cut on her leg to show for it.

“I didn’t care what we really were going to do,” she said sweetly. “I just wanted to hang out with you.”

I told her something similar but hid some of my real thoughts. Little did she know the mistake I had really made, bringing her camping without much thought. Somehow, we survived. Luckily, so did our relationship. And as we planned the next time we see each other, we made a crucial decision – somewhat close to “smart.” It might be safer next time, we both decided, if I headed east.


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