So you find yourself in the woods on purpose and maybe even sober. Now what?
It is estimated that 22 million Americans a year enjoy some kind of camping. I can assure you I was not one of them. I prefer to cook my s'mores by the dozen in the microwave like a civilized human.
While I was running the streets of Chicago, my sister and LeBarf co-founder, Tookie Bertin was hitting the trails out west in Colorado.
Tookie is pronounced "Two key" btw...kind of like 2 Chainz but not as cool. It was a childhood nickname that stuck. She used to cry about it, now she thinks its chic af.
We sat down to talk, mostly because we're sisters and we do that, but also to discuss what its like to pee outside and how to keep bears at bay. Read on basics and you'll learn how to survive out in the wild.
**Disclaimer: Tooks is no expert so if you get mauled by a moose after reading this, thats just too bad. I would have told you to stay inside.
Al: High Tooks (Colorado joke), super excited to talk to you about camping and outdoorsy things. So, what was the last hike / camping expedition you went on?
Tooks: Bonjour, little city mouse. Excited to talk about camping? 99% sure you're not. The most green you've seen lately is the Chicago River at St. Patricks Day. I think a Chihauaha would last longer in the wild than you. Anywho, I camped Vail Saturday night after tubing down the Colorado River.
Al: A Chihuahua absolutely would last longer. So, since we're trendy af and started a bikini company, I have to ask, what does one wear camping...besides LeBarf apparel.
Tooks: First off, you'd want to leave your Fendi at home. Flannel, flannel and more flannel. Lumberjack chic is really what you're looking for here.
I like to wear leggings for the campfire at night, wool socks (yes, Alison, wool socks are warmest) and either hiking boots or Chacos (without the socks obviously) to wear around the campsite depending on the weather.
Layers are really key- Colorado can be hot as hell during the day, and freezing at night- so you always want to be prepared!
Al: Besides playing Oregon Trail, how do you prep for camping? And dysentery for that matter.
Tooks: Since my covered wagon is in the shop, I pack my Jeep with a tent, sleeping bag, air mattress (my 27 year old back ain't what it used to be), cooler for hot dogs, and of I can’t survive in the wild without boxed wine. Big fan of the Bota Box over here.
That's assuming you're "car camping" aka having your car at the campsite- if you're backpacking- having to hike in to your campsite, you definitely want to be more strategic with what you bring and it requires more planning. REI really becomes your best friend out here- there's so much cool gear!
Dysentery? What is this, 1816? To avoid that I try not to shove my face into any streams or rivers where it doesn't belong. I bring a huge Nalgene full of fresh water. Then you just need to figure out what you want to cook!
Al: That Chrissy Teigen Cookbook isn't fooling anyone, I know you can't cook, how do you eat in the wild? Hunting & foraging perhaps?
Tooks: Whatever, you have that cookbook too. I love Chrissy, but there are way too many ingredients for her recipes. I’m sure you haven't even even opened it. (She’s right, I haven’t.)
Camping is cool because anything you cook on a stove or grill- steak, chicken, vegetables- you can cook on or in a campfire wrapped in foil. (Woo, Master Chef over here) That said, I opt for hot dogs and s'mores. If you're backpacking, there's "instant meals" so you don't have to carry the weight of food where you just add boiling water to these zipped packages and then BAM- lasagna!
Scoff away, but I'm telling you, it's killer. You can buy space ice cream too- you know those bars the astronauts eat that we had to eat in 3rd grade science class against our will? Good stuff, dude.
Al: I hear Winnie the Pooh is a vicious little shit in real life. How do you stay alive out there? Do you own a gun? I'm telling Mom.
Tooks: Winnie is a little betch. Gun? Who needs a gun when you have access to a Wolfdog named Monster to protect you? Honestly, I just like to camp with a group of friends (and dogs). You know, safety in numbers. Except one time, my friend Cass and I went backpacking and drank an entire boxed wine ourselves...I think that was more liquid courage.
As far as animals, it's pretty rare to see wildlife in Colorado - I'm more scared of a psycho entering our campsite than a moose. Moose are no joke, man.That book about giving them muffins really steers you wrong, those things are meeeeaaannn!
Al: So I get that its pretty, but once you set up camp, what exactly do you do?
Tooks: Thats when we bust out the guitars, hold hands and sing Kumbaya. But no, it depends on the campsite. We hike around, set up the hammocks, listen to music, build the fire, make my friends put on their LeBarf gear and force them into modeling. You know, whatever you want!
I love camping because you really get to talk with your friends, there's no wifi to distract you, and even if you're just gone one night, it gives you a chance to get out of the city and just...escape reality for a bit.
I always come back from the mountains feeling refreshed..we usually never want to leave! I actually think you'd really love it if you gave it a chance. I'll get you out there one day.
Al: Say I do decide to come to Denver to camp. What are the 3 must see hikes / camping sights?
Tooks: Aspen! And I don't mean Hyman Street. On the drive there from Denver you pass a hike to Hanging Lake - it's one of the most gorgeous hikes I've ever done, the water when you reach the top doesn't look real.
It's also on my list to camp in Telluride, I haven't been yet, but there's tons of waterfalls and you're just surrounded by mountains- it sounds insane.
And lastly, Great Sand Dunes are also a must- see- just these huge dunes backdropped by snow capped mountains, we gotta go!
Ok and one extra! If you eat your Wheaties one morning and are feeling adventurous, hike Mt. Holy Cross. It's a 14er- meaning it's one of the highest peaks in Colorado at 14,000 ft at the summit- and although it's the hardest thing I've ever done in my life to date, it was also one of the most rewarding.
Describing the feeling you get when you make it to the top and you can look all around you and see mountain ranges for miles, it's really breathtaking. And not just because it took 4 1/2 hours of hiking straight uphill to get there. It makes the struggle worth it! And a view you'll never forget.
Al: Thanks Tooks, it’s been real. All this camping talk makes me almost want to go hiking. I think I’ll start with a small one…or not. I’ll see you when ski season starts. Less bugs.