Losing my tent in the mist at night

by backpackingbongos

Some things really should not happen.

It was midnight and Corrina had retired to our tent for the night.  I sat in our Tentipi, snug in my down jacket, beer in hand reading the paper whilst radio six played in the background.  The weather outside was horrendous, a howling gale was whistling around the tall shelter, a low moaning sound followed but a sudden shudder of the fabric.  There was a dawning realisation that I was going to have to visit the loo, a quick dash to a hedge being unacceptable this time.  Karma was about to come and give me a good slap in the face.

A couple of hours earlier Corrina has declared her intention of visiting the loo and had asked me to accompany her.  We were in a campsite in Pembrokeshire, but had selected one of their ‘wild’ pitches.  This involved a five minute walk from the farmhouse through a few fields, simple during the light of day.  At the time it was pishing it down and I selfishly declined to accompany her on a nocturnal walk, dejectedly she set off alone into the wet and windy night.  Five minutes later she was back, saying that she could not find her way, asking if there was a metal feed tray en route.  I confirmed that there was and she successfully navigated her way there and back after a second plea for assistance.

Now it was my turn and I exited the Tentipi into the dark night.  The rain had finally stopped and had been replaced by a dense swirling mist.  It was exhilarating walking through the fields, with a combination of absolute darkness, a full on gale and swirling mist.  The weather made me feel like I was walking across exposed moorland, or high in the mountains.   The beam of my torch was cut short by a constantly moving wall of white.  I reached the farm buildings with ease, feeling bemused by my partners lack of direction.

On my return leg, it all went horribly wrong.  Passing our car which was parked just inside the top field, I picked up the grassy track back to our camp.  I started to feel uneasy when I noticed that the track was wider than I remembered it, a trick of the eye?  My unease grew as I passed through a gate and noticed a patch of gravel, that definitely was not there before.  Ok, I realised that I must have gone wrong somehow and backtracked towards our parked car.  Gathering my senses I stood at the car and visualised getting out and walking towards camp.  I set off once again.  Like some sort of weird frustrating dream I once again found myself in the same location.  I started to panic a little bit, it felt like I was part of a massive practical joke, someone coming along and moving the scenery around whilst I was in the loo.  I returned to the car a second time before heading back into the darkness.  Nope, that did not work out either as I was soon back at the patch of gravel.  I started to tell myself that perhaps I simply had not noticed it before?  This time I pressed on to a fork in the track, taking a right turn I became even more alarmed to find the woods that should have been on my left were on my right instead.  A picnic bench loomed out of the mist, I initially thought that I had found my way back, I really panicked to see no tents there.  To cut a long story short, our campsite eventually appeared out of the mist half an hour after setting off from the toilet block.

God help me if I need to go off and dig a hole in the night whilst wild camping!

I think that there is a moral to this story somewhere as well………………….

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24 Responses to “Losing my tent in the mist at night”

  1. Its always a good idea to take an empty lemonade or cider bottle when you go camping, it beats leaving your tent in a storm and you won’t get lost. You just need to aim well!

    • Bernie, I did have a nice wide necked bottle with me in the tent. However it was not suitable for the ‘job’ that I needed to do!

  2. More ‘Touching the Cloth’ than ‘Touching the Void’. But an enjoyable read nonetheless. Four stars. 😉

    • Do you think that Joe Simpson would have coped as well as I did? Things got so desperate that I nearly had to sleep in the car. Wild adventures……………..

  3. Men are such bastards! Serves you right! (ooh that was my evil twin…)
    🙂

  4. This happened to my brother whilst camping on Ingleborough. We opened the tent door to find a lamb sheletring there. His dog went off after the lamb and the bro, in his undies, went off after the dog. And they didn’t come back. After about half an hour, he re-appeared, shivering with a cowering dog. He’d found the pooch but couldn;t find the tent… arf arf…

    • I bet that there was major relief in his eyes when he returned Mike? Should never wander around Ingleborough in your undies. Well not at night anyhow.

  5. Anyone would think you’d been at the wacky baccy…

  6. How exactly did you manage to navigate across Scotland this year? I would say serves you right for being mean but I stopped myself just in time 🙂

  7. Oh dear James, next time take a Garmin with you and marked the tent with it before you go:)

  8. That did make me laugh! I can just imagine the panic I’d have got in in the same situation! Makes you realise you’re better off wild camping, as you don’t have to go so far from the tent in the middle of the night – in fact when we’re backpacking in the States, you definitely stay as close to the tent as possible, whilst keeping your torch trained all around to make sure no bears are nearby!

    James, is there anyway of contacting you with a private message via your site, as I wanted to ask you a question about somewhere in the Peak District and I didn’t think you’d want to post the answer publicly? I’m unsure about putting my e-mail adddress in your comments boxes too, as it’s probably not a good idea to have it so public for anyone to use!

    Cheers
    Chrissie

    • I can remember camping in the Himalaya Chrissie and going off into the night, whilst squatting I noticed a pair of eyes watching me from a distance. It freaked me out a little bit!

      The email addresses that people put in the comments boxes are only visible to the blog owners, so no problem there. However you can email me on boulterdotjamesatgooglemaildotcom (I hope that makes sense, wrote it like that so auto spammers don’t use it).

  9. How the mighty fall. I sincerely hope Corinna is still taking the pish and will do so for years to come

  10. hahaha thats brightened up my day… great story 😀

  11. I’ve had this happen before too. Most recently in a cordite whose name I can’t recall on my last TGO Challenge. I wandered those paths a long time. Frustrating. This is one thing about campgrounds that is always a problem.

    • I have to say that I felt rather embarrassed Ken!

      • I think embarrassment is the common response. You can take steps to prevent this kind of thing from happening like taking a compass bearing on the direction to the privy and back to the tent but that can only go so far in a campground of twisting paths with tent cities. I’ve managed to lose my tent at music festivals for the same reason and that is really annoying. Putting a little beacon LED light like a Photon Micro Light upon the tent could be of help if you get close enough to see the glint of light. I suppose marking a GPS waypoint of your tent is useful but to be honest when it’s dark , at least for me, finding the marked waypoint is tough amongst dozens of tents.

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