I arrived at Elk Prairie Campground in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. I drove around scanning which site I wanted to stay in. All the sites in the loop were available except for one. There were many sites to choose from and I felt like I was choosing a home in a neighborhood. I had options with spacious driveways for the car, a master bedroom for the tent, and even the option of a stream in the backyard. I ended up choosing a site that was nearby the other campers, just so I’d have some neighbors in case I needed to borrow a cup of sugar or something.
After setting up my tent and throwing food into the bear locker, I loaded up my backpack to go on a hike. I packed a flashlight, rain gear, an umbrella, a beanie, a book, gloves, and some water. I started walking around, but I never did get too far. I probably explored in a 50ft radius from my camp site. The two nearby trails I walked on became very dense and didn’t appear to look like trails anymore. The night skies were approaching fast and as I stood there contemplating whether or not I should enter these dense trails, episodes from National Geographic: Lost in the Rainforest kept coming to my mind and it kept me from venturing out too far.
About thirty minutes of pacing back and forth trying to look for a trail to walk, I decided just to stay put in my campground. I did keep my backpack on just to feel productive. Luckily I stayed because not too long after, the night skies were coming in and so was the rain. I hung up a tarp on the tree branches to allow myself to cook some ravioli without getting wet. By the time my ravioli finished cooking it was completely dark. My food warmed up nicely with my new burner, but I wasn’t able to completely enjoy it. I was unsure of what creatures lurked in the area and I didn’t want to attract any of them with my food so I ate my ravioli like a mad animal. I quickly shoved spoonfuls in my mouth while keeping my eyes out in all directions for scavengers, trying to get a taste of my delicious canned food. My ears were also on high alert, listening for any movement in the shrubs. Fortunately I finished my ravioli with no interruptions, but I burned my mouth while at it.
Once my meal was over, I decided to start my fire. This took more effort than I expected. I used newspaper as my starter and I had a difficult time trying to get the wood to catch fire. I put newspaper at the base of the logs and lit them, but the wood would not catch. Every time the newspaper died out, I gave it another attempt with more paper. I had a total of four small rolls of newspaper and after about 45 minutes as I was down to the last set the paper, I finally succeeded and kept the fire going. I wanted to run around and celebrate, but a flop to the bench with my fists raised in the air was a fair celebration. With a couple of beers and the warmth that the fire provided, I enjoyed the forest for a couple more hours into the chilly night.