Last weekend, I joined Re and her coworkers at Backcountry.com on a trip to Bishop, California. Our goal? To review tents, sleeping bags, and an assortment of packs. Another couple days in the sun you say? You don’t have to ask this girl twice. As the next storm system shuttled into the Wasatch, Re and I packed her little Subaru full of toys and headed out to the desert.
The sun baked us on the 8 hour drive through Nevada. We dreamed of flip-flops as our toes suffocate in our shoes, and stared out across the sandy desert relishing in the warmth. We pulled into our Buttermilk Road campsite about an hour behind the guys, who were already setting up the multiple tents picked out by Backcountry specialists for our base camp. They ranged from ultra lightweight two man tents to luxurious three mens that you can easily sleep four in. We traded personal favorites over beer, a campfire, and some full-on skillet style campfire cooking.
The next day, we awoke at sunrise to blue skis and crisp, spring weather at the foot of Mt. Tom. It took a couple of hours, but by the time the sun was up the air was warm. While Tommy and Re took photos of Basecamp, I basked in the warmth on the sun in my Widi 2’s massive door. It’s like a french door in the backcountry, opening the entire length of my tent up to the sun. Perfect place for a little bit of tea and writing!
Despite our assortment of toys, we ended up doing very little biking or touring while we were in Bishop, a little bit sad, but I did ride a really fun little segment of slick rock with some amazing scenery!
Our last night there was our real test: a wind storm, and easily the biggest wind storm I’ve ever camped in. We bailed on campfire cooking and saught refuge at the new Thai restaurant in town. After trying the chicken rocca (wait, not curry?) Re and I sat in her car at camp motivating ourselves to move. it was only 9, but there was no way in hell we were sitting around a camp fire. Instead, I dashed, head down, into the wind across our camp and dove into my tent. We were in for a hellish night. I don’t think I slept at a wink. I wrapped myself, pillow and all, in my sleeping bag, listening to the wind thrash around my tent. At some point in the night, I realized that the tent felt oddly close to my body, and poked my head out to realize that a tent pole had snapped into four pieces. I rearranged myself at the other end of the tent and decided to investigate the status of the tent we pitched next to mine. I battled the zipper rattling in the wind, crawled into the night and was greeted by empty ground. There was no other tent in sight, just a couple snapped tent poles rolling in the dust. Back to the broken tent I went.
The next morning, 5 out of 7 tents we had “tested” were in some sort of ruin, our camp table had blown away, and the snow was starting to fall. So much for our spring camping test, it was time to get the hell out of there!
What tents were we using? You’ll just have to wait for our Spring Gear Guide to come out to find out!