Camping continues to be the cheapest way to experience new parts of California. Sites are under $50 per night and that cost gets split up amongst the group. Over President’s Day weekend, we drove up to Malibu Creek State Park to meet our friends for an overnight camping trip.
We have gotten more rain in the first 8 weeks of 2017 than we got all last year. The drive from the Inland Empire to Malibu was beautiful, especially once we got out of LA. Everything was so green; it looked more like Ireland than California. Since we’ve been camping many times at this point, setup was a breeze, even though everything was really wet from a huge storm that had come through the night before.
We didn’t have a lot of time before dusk, so we took a short 2.5 mile (round-trip) hike on the Tapia Spur Trail and made it back to grill hot dogs and veggies over the campfire. Doug got a Coleman 2-burner stove (similar) for Christmas and this was our first chance to use it. It works like a dream! Cooking camp food was faster and easier than ever. We still sat around the campfire for a long time and made s’mores, because that is what camping is all about, you know. Overnight, it got down to about 47°, which is a bit too cold for this wimpy SoCal girl, especially too cold to sleep outside. I persevered but looked forward to camping in the spring and summer instead.
The next morning we had coffee and watched the low clouds weave through the mountains. Instead of cooking breakfast on site, we packed up and drove into Malibu for a fancy brunch at farm-to-table restaurant Ollo. I love “cheating camping” in this way. Sitting inside somewhere warm letting pros make my food for me.
5 rainy camping tips:
- Reschedule. Ha! I know many hardcore campers would roast me for this, but honestly I want camping to be a fun experience, and not challenging. If it were up to me I’d only camp in perfect weather.
- Tarps are key. We put one down under a tree to keep our belongings off the mud, and used another one to cover up everything overnight because the dew was pretty pervasive. Make sure to use a footprint (or tarp) underneath your tent as well.
- It wasn’t actively raining while we were out, but if it had been, an easy-up or other canopy would have been so important.
- Keep your stuff dry. Keep your sleeping bag from touching the side of the tent if possible. Mine got wet due to dew and condensation. To work with this, I didn’t roll up my bag and stuff it in its sack until I knew it’d dried out (keeping it in the back seat of my car with the wet part in the sun dried it out nicely).
- Don’t put away a wet tent. If you can’t avoid this, then as soon as you get home, get the tent back out and let it air-dry. You can spray the inside of the tent with a mixture of water and vinegar, (I would add a little antibacterial tea tree oil) to freshen things up. Check these tent maintenance tips from REI for more information.
Do you like camping in the rain, or would you rather stay home like me?
All photos by Staci and Doug Jackson for The Voyageer.