Camp Hard III: Camp hard with a vengeance

ORANGE RHYMES WITHOn TNL’s website last week, I promised you all a heroic action column. Now, assuming you’ve all significantly lowered your standards for the words “action” and “heroic,” I’m ready to deliver.

First off, note the title of this little adventure. It’s right up there, hovering at the top of the page. Just keep looking up without glancing over the top of the paper. Did you see it? Could you even begin to imagine a more epic — and lightheartedly borrowed — way to start an action-adventure/thriller column?

That’s what I thought.

Our adventure begins in a battered plastic Kia, cruising at Mach 2 on the Seward Highway in what seemed to be an attempt to strip all non-essential materials from the shaking frame.

This story would have started back on campus, had I decided to spend even a small amount of time packing and preparing for the trip. I did not, which may have played a role in the fact that I packed only half the supplies I needed along with what appeared to be a gym bag filled solely with socks.

The plan was to cruise down to the peninsula and roam from camp to camp, and great plans don’t waste space dealing with trivial matters such as packing lists.

I figured I would take advantage of our five-day weekend by embarking on a solo road trip to compensate for all the weekends I spent working over the summer. What I failed to account for was the monsoon that the Alaskan skyline decided to unleash a few short minutes into the trip.

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Because of this, the first three or four places I had planned to camp would have undoubtedly been turned to swampland.

Though my hangar-sized tarp could have certainly kept the floor of my new tent dry, I luckily remembered the influence of gravity and reevaluated my plan to sleep at the bottom of a steep, soggy incline.

After trying four different sites I finally managed to find a place near Seward that seemed remarkably quiet, moderately dry and bandit-free.

I quickly threw up my tent, started a fire that would have made Billy Joel proud and began setting up camp for the night.

The campout was going beautifully until a freeloading stray ember from the fire decided to hitch a ride on the back of my jacket while I was climbing into the tent. The smell of burning nylon and subsequent howl of pain might have been funny had it not been incredibly early in the morning — and had my tent not been close to another group of campers who had been asleep until then.

In my hurry to gently persuade the ember to stop burning a sizable hole in my back, I managed to somehow disassemble my tent from the inside, kick my last remaining Slurpee into the fire and scatter a thousand Maui Onion kettle chips across the interior of my tent and sleeping bag.

To the untrained eye, this situation could have appeared like a bumbling idiot had burned his ass on the fire and then decided to engage his tent in an epic wrestling match to the death.

This was not the case.

I attacked my problem head-on with the all intensity and fury of an ‘80s action hero and conquered my enemy while spouting one-liners into the night.

“How’s that for a burn,” I angrily muttered as I ninja-kicked what was left of my fire, fully aware of the awesomeness of my quick action and witty dialogue.

The forest, quite possibly aware of my expertise in the ancient survival art of flailing angrily, left me to camp in peace for the remainder of the trip. My gear — tattered, scorched and slightly greasy from the chips — had nonetheless kept me warm with all 10 fingers intact by the end of the trip.

So I returned to the urban jungle of Anchorage in all its construction-filled splendor. My room is exactly as I left it, with the television balanced precariously on the ironing board and the broken desk I acquired (stole) still standing upside-down where I’d left it. Everything seemed to be the same as before, but something was drastically different.

My time in the woods had changed me, had given me direction and purpose — and more importantly a new excuse to spend all of my money on new gear at REI.

So I’ll wait patiently until the next adventure comes my way, all while preparing myself to face it head-on, kicking and screaming, with a poorly executed pun. If that’s not action, then I can’t tell you what is.