June 7, 2015

Favourite Camping Memories

Happy 'Camping Month'! All month long T.O. & fro will be the place to find all things camping - from personal stories to menu planning tips, camping in bear country and more! So whether you are a seasoned back country vet, prefer the comfort of an RV or simply love reading about others' adventures, this series is for you. 

We're kicking off the series by talking favourite camping memories...

T.O. & fro's camping series

For as long as I can remember, we have been a “camping family”. Whether it was a weekend at the local provincial park, popping the tent at night on a cross country road trip, an RV trip down to North Carolina to visit family or even hauling our pop up trailer down to Disney World, when summers weren’t filled with soccer or hockey, we would head out on a new camping adventure. I am lucky to have married a man that also spent his summers crammed into a tent with his family, and only hope that we can carry on the tradition with our future generation.

While we’ve both had many memorable camping trips, some of our most memorable were those spent together…

A Rainy Fourth

There had been talk about a weekend backpacking adventure since we moved to Alaska, so to go “easy” on us first timers, our friends chose a relatively simple hike in, located fairly close to home. With backpacks loaded to the brim, we celebrated our first Fourth of July by hitting the relatively flat 5 mile trail, with the sun shining. As we passed through the mountain valley, the terrain continued to change from pine and spruce trees, to the characteristic alpine shrubs and mosses. The only sounds we could hear was the chatter from our group. We were all alone and it was such an incredible feeling. Our destination finally came into view, approximately 6 hours after we kissed our cars goodbye for the weekend. We set up camp for the night along the ridge of the glacier-fed Eagle Lake. It's milky green colour stood out against the greens and browns of the mountains and bright blue of the sunny summer sky. We planned fishing in the lakes and hikes to a nearby glacier, it looked like it was going to be the perfect weekend. But, who were we kidding. After all, it was a weekend with the Wards, and no weekend with us was, and probably still is, complete without some rain. What went from being a sunny weekend, quickly turned into a soggy and cold one, confining us to our tents. Nonetheless, it was a fun weekend and amazing adventure to cross off our Alaskan bucket list.

Read more about this adventure here.

camping at eagle lake alaska

A Record Snow

We were all about weekend adventures, and a weekend trip to Valdez was high on our list. The beginning of the adventure seemed pretty promising - it was sunny, the sky was blue, and the 6 hour cruise along the Alaska Marine Highway to Valdez was breathtaking, with views of mountains, ice bergs, orcas, otters, seals, sea lions and otters galore. But as soon as our destination can into view, the clouds rolled in and the rain came down. Not having a plan, as soon as we docked we frantically started calling to find a place to stay, including the nearest campground. “You’re kidding,” said the man on the other line as we asked about open sites, “There is still 5 feet of snow on the ground here.” Even though it was the beginning of June, it was also the year we had received a record amount of snow fall, 14 feet in Anchorage to be exact. Of course it hadn’t melted yet. And so we drove, passing the walls of snow on either side of the highway, the Alyeska pipeline and even a mama moose teaching her baby to swim, all in the rain and arguing about where and when we were going to stop for the night. Before we knew it, it was 1am. We were tired, we were hungry, we were definitely ‘hangry’, and we were half way home, back in Nelchina, where we had camped the weekend before. To top it off, it was still raining. Long story short, that night we ended up blowing up the air mattress and sleeping in the back of the truck. Not something I recommend.

Read more about this adventure here.

snow in valdez

Our First Encounter

Being bear aware is a top priority in Alaska, especially when camping in bear country. We were spending the weekend at a friends’ house, 3 hours south of Anchorage, but decided to camp for a night along the way. We found a small state campground and as we pulled in, we a noticed “bear in area” sign. “Just a precaution,” said the person working the booth. We found our site and began to set up for the night, when I looked up and saw something black, fuzzy and moving across the road. “Bear!”, I quietly yelled to Steve, grabbing my camera to get some shots of the small black bear that was trying to find dinner in a dead tree stump. Probably not the brightest, but seemed like a good idea at the time. When it was time to hit the sack, we cleaned the site well, packing everything in the truck and not leaving anything the bear would find inviting. I had a great sleep that night. Steve, not so much. Apparently that bear spent part of the night outside, taunting Steve. I had a great sleep and didn’t hear a thing, even called his a wuss a few times. When we drove out that morning, we noticed the “bear in area” signs were now “aggressive bear in area” signs. Apparently, Steve wasn’t the only one that didn’t get much sleep that night.

kenai river black bear

What is your most memorable camping experience?



  1. I would definitely not be able to sleep if I knew there was a bear in the area and has seen it! When we went camping last weekend we were told that there were bears and cubs around and I think everyone's sleep suffered a bit, although we didn't ever see them!

  2. You've had quite the adventures! This really makes me want to get out and camp this summer! Thanks for sharing some precious memories!

    Emma | Seeking the South

  3. Wow you're lucky that's all the bear did to you guys.

    One year, we had locked out keys in the car and waited til the next morning to call CAA. Car next to us was brutalized. Bear claw marks all down the doors, by the window seams, just shredded. There had to have been something really good and yummy in that car. Our car thankfully was without any damage.

  4. Oh man! You've had some serious adventures! Can't wait for the rest of this series. :)

  5. Omg I love this idea for a series. I'm a bIG camping fan!! You have some wonderful memories!

  6. LOVE camping and LOVE this post. You should definitely follow The Flybird for all things camping inspiration. Also that is so cool you saw a bear IRL! I live in Utah and our camping adventures never involve any animals that are cool haha!



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