Why mountain camping hits your reset button
Updated: May 3
Moving to Arizona in summer was difficult.
As you know, I'm a beach girl (warm sunshine, sea breeze, mild temperatures). The desert is drastically different and with temperatures reaching 114 F (mid-40s C) on any given day and I have been experiencing heat exhaustion like never before. I needed an outlet, an escape from the insufferable temperatures.
I discarded any notion of running, adopted swimming, and hid inside the house lingering in front of the air vents ALL SEASON. You might laugh but it's true. Hiding at home to avoid the heat was absolutely no way to spend a weekend... hence the camping epiphany.
An hour north of Tucson, Arizona, in the Coronado National Forest, Mt Lemmon looms 9,159ft tall. Ping—the lightbulb moment: A mountain retreat to escape the burning desert sand. We went, camped, went again, and again. It wasn't just the heat we escaped from though—we let go of a few unhealthy habits on the way.
Find a mountain, drag friends along, and camp—they'll love it and so will you. Here's why.
7 ways mountain camping hits reset
It gives you a break
from social media, routine, household chores
A social media blackout has become trendy—oh yes, taking an active break from all the phone disruption. Get on trend ;)
You'll likely bring a back-up charger for your phone but even so, you won't have reason to use it (likely no signal) other than to take pictures—you have company and their undivided attention. Absorb it all—this rare occasion where no one is distracted by anything other than the natural environment. Conversation will flow.
Chores, like cooking and cleaning, will seem more exciting because you're using those camp supplies you've been saving for the trip and have had to be inventive with meal options—no refrigerator. You'll do them together and this lessens the burden.
It forces you to be wholly you
no filters, make up or excuses
You are in a tent—no mirrors (thank goodness), no need for a make up routine, and camping allows you to simply be you without the excess. Soak it up.
It draws you closer to friends/significant others
You relax, tackle challenges—carrying that backpack up a trail, cooking with limited resources, setting up tents/hammocks, surviving various weather conditions—and have fun playing games, drinking beer, roasting marshmallows, taking pictures, and sharing crazy stories.
People tend to be themselves (see #2), learn new tricks (we discussed camera tips and practiced them) and rely on others to share loads/tasks (taking turns cooking and cleaning dishes). We communicate more (no tech devices to distract us) and you will realize how valuable this time together really is. Relish every moment.
It teaches you to pack what you absolutely need
This post applies to any accessible mountain but my most recent experience was in Tucson, AZ, on Mt Lemmon.
If you are a local and headed to the Marshall Gulch Trail (at the top of the mountain) and have parked in the lot, you have to hike up for around 2 hours to get to the campsite. It isn't a difficult hike but every pound on your back, in that pack, counts.
Only pack what you absolutely need and check what your friends/spouse are packing so that you don't double up unnecessarily.
It helps you beat the heat
Mountain tops—higher altitude—are cooler than the city center. The Marshall Gulch campsite is usually 20 degrees (or more) cooler than Tucson city. What a relief, a welcome change I tell ya. And the air is fresh. Bring it!
It resets your body clock
When camping, you will go to bed soon after sun down and wake up at sun up, maximizing your day.
I was in a bad habit of going to bed too late, every night. I can stay up but having to wake early after going to bed late is the worst. A couple nights on a mountain, where you don't rely on electricity to keep you going, is the start of a healthy habit to get more sleep organically.
It’s free (almost)
Camping is really cheap (usually less than $10 deposited in an honesty box). Imagine having a weekend away that resonates with your body and mind as well as your bank account? This is it.
Kids and dogs will love it
Always check the park before you take a pet along—most National Parks don't allow it.
However, pets are welcome on Mt Lemmon (referring to dogs here) and children (age-dependent) will manage the hike and love the freedom to play safely, the quality family time, cooking with you, and exploring. You will love the solitude, serene environment, and space.
Please comment below if you have anything to add or a local retreat you recommend. I'd love to hear!
Anyone had a body clock reset from a mountain getaway? Let me know. :)