Elbow woes…mountain misery…

…and an old guy rant. I wasn’t sure about posting this piece, as it is not exactly the usual. I enjoy taking an upbeat and positive approach to OldPlaidCamper, because there are plenty of other places to find a downbeat and negative approach. I try to be an optimist, but was somewhat challenged to find the positive on a recent camping trip. Anyway, be warned, and read no further if you’re after regular PlaidCamper fare…

You work hard enough all week, in a job you enjoy, but when the weekend comes along you might be good and ready to clock off, and get out camping for the weekend. The previous couple of evenings have been spent dusting off the necessary gear, sorting provisions, and tracking down the bear and bug spray. It’s the first time out for camping this year, and the weather forecast says fine. Alright! Into the car, and off to the Elbow Valley in Kananaskis country.

DSCN5572There are a fair number of smallish campgrounds strung out along the valley, so getting a spot on a Friday by heading out early shouldn’t be an issue. First campground, full. OK, moving on. Sorry, full. Will we find a spot? Not looking good, but let’s go on just a little further. Yes! One walk in spot left, and we’ll take it, thank you very much!

Tent up – we remembered how – and coffee on, fire pit prepared, a cold beer for later, and everything is groovy. It’s only a small loop, all walk ins, and no loud music playing, so better than groovy. (I’ve been listening to quite a bit of Big Star and Neil Young recently. What can I say? Groovy!) Tall trees, light breeze, and the faint sound of the river not too far away. A mountain retreat, and peaceful pine delight. Oh yeah.

A little further up from our site, a couple joins another couple, loud welcomes, but why not? It’s the weekend and time to meet up with good friends. Then a group of four joins the first four, and more loud welcomes are exchanged. Gets a little louder, but hey, friends with friends, and on the weekend and all. You’d be pleased and excited, out in the sunshine. Then another couple arrives. And is that another couple? Hold on. An f-bomb is dropped. Ouch! Not necessary. Not cool. But maybe it was a one off, a bizarre ritual designed to establish maturity credentials…Beers are cracked, and why not have a cold one on a warm evening? We intend to. Another f-bomb, then another, and a few more beers. Oh dear. Bombs away.

Hey! Stop with the language! Thank you!

Well, that worked for a short while. After a few more beers, the volume of the conversation went up as the tone went down. On went the music. My earlier plea appeared to have fallen on deaf ears. Did I mention the two unleashed dogs? I’m not bothered if they’re well trained, but these were running all over, and dogs do like to chase squirrels if they can get away with it. They sure were getting away with it. It must be hard to keep an eye on your dog when you’re busy exchanging witty banter, using words that rhyme with itch, duck and hit. Heady stuff.

DSCF0118Writing this is sending my blood pressure up. Just a little. I’m no shrinking violet, and I scowled, glared and stomped my way about. Quiet time, according to the bulletin board, is between 11pm and 7am, so technically, too bad, PlaidCamper. Here are a few gems:

Sara, can you see my dick? (Huh? No. Is it very small?)

A butterfly. A f*#king butterfly. F*#king nature! (Huh?)

F*#king European tent! I hate f*#king European tents! (Huh? Just European tents?)

F*#k me? F*#k you! (I know, isn’t that a zinger?)

Bear bait, bear bait, bear bait! (This was chanted when trash was dropped. How I wished – sort of – for a bear, but that’s not fair on the bear…)

These were the good ones…I could go on, give you more details, but my heart isn’t in it. I’ll simply share the fact that quiet time meant nothing to this particular group. 2am and the jollity finally stopped.

Ok. I’ll be the old so and so, the miserable old fart who simply doesn’t get it. Whatever the it may be. Here I go:

Why? Why bother coming out to a beautiful forested campground located in a stunning river valley flanked by mountains, a place you’ll be sharing with other campers, if you don’t appreciate it? Is it actually a location screaming “get blind drunk and be obnoxious!”? Is it really possible for a group of human beings to be so out of touch with their surroundings? With their fellows? Is it a lack of self-confidence, an inability to express appreciation, or fear, that causes such inane behaviour? The witlessness and callous disregard for people and place was truly astonishing.

I’m perfectly happy to be labeled a miserable old so and so, out of touch or just not with it, but really, is there a need to be so self-absorbed, entitled, and, well…brattish, to the point where you cannot care for the planet you live on? Or the people around you? I don’t get it, this behaviour, and I’m hoping it isn’t a growing trend:

Poor behaviour at Yellowstone

Witless, crass, moronic, inane, pathetic, depressing, sad, pointless, and why me? So sad this squirrel had to see and hear such poor behaviour… 
I do understand people have differing agendas and ideas about how the outdoors should be enjoyed, but surely it can’t be too hard to see what ought to be acceptable in our treasured natural spaces? There are far worse problems facing our world, but honestly, when you hope for a pleasant weekend, what a disappointment. I’m going to leave the negativity here, I think, and hope for happier camping trips ahead.

Time to get back to being positive. I love camping, and although I enjoy quiet, that isn’t an expectation at a shared campground. I’ve sat by the fire late at night many a time, nursing a beer and smiling in the dark as the flames from other campfires flicker through the trees. I like to imagine all these different campers by their fires, mostly strangers to each other, but, across Canada and the US, joined in a similar delight, connected by the experience of being outdoors on a warm weekend, and appreciating their good fortune. Now, that’s not too hard, or too much to expect, is it?

At least the weekend ended on a positive note…
Thanks for reading! Please feel free to share a (happier?) story or leave a comment – it’s always appreciated – and have a wonderful weekend!


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I am a would be outdoorsman - that is if I had more time, skills and knowledge. When I can, I love being outdoors, just camping, hiking, snowboarding, xc skiing, snowshoeing, paddling a canoe or trying something new. What I lack in ability, I make up for in enthusiasm and having a go. I'd never really survive for long out there in the wild, but I enjoy pretending I could if I had to...

28 thoughts on “Elbow woes…mountain misery…”

  1. I love nature, so much to enjoy and the quiet….ah the quiet…..until people come along and spoil it all! I feel for you 😦 and the flippancy attitude about bears and trash. We have bears in our community and we are very diligent about keeping food items and trash safely tucked away….not for us, but for them! When they get into trouble, it’s all over for them, some people have no understanding at all. Now, I am ranting. I enjoyed your rant, it made me jump on board.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You are preaching to the choir here. As a fellow Alberta nature lover, I know all too well the frustration of planning a night of peaceful camping only to find that the uncouth wildlife of the city has come to join you. That’s the main reason I seldom stay in front-country campgrounds. On those days when my old joints are too stiff to hike a few km on a trail, I stay at a motel I know to be quiet and wake up rested for my day hiking.

    On rare occasions, the f-bomb crowd has been the only one anywhere near me. I get a bit of revenge by breaking camp early (6 am), driving in front of their tent and turning the CD player at full volume to Ride of the Valkyries, and then departing with horn honking in rhythm.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Well, if you are an old so and so, so am I. I go camping to get away from the loud and obnoxious. This is part of the reason why I am so picky about my campsites, but I know that sometimes we just have to settle for what we can get.

    And allowing you dogs to run around like that is just disrespectful, if to anything the fellow campers. I’ll stay off my soapbox, but just the same.

    I’m sorry that this camping trip was not groovy, but I hope that the next one makes up for x10. Have a beautiful weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The disrespect left us bewildered – to say the least – and we’re thinking hard about where to camp next. Seems like quite a few have had similar negative experiences, but I like to think most folks are clued in, so we’ll head off somewhere soon. Can’t let the few wreck it etc…
      Thanks, and I hope your weekend has gone well!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Ooo no, I’m so sorry to hear about that. I would of been very angry. To be honest with you, this is exactly why I haven’t camped on an actual campground for the past 10 years, or so. (Not counting RV parks.) This has happened to often. Nowadays I only bring a backpack with my sleeping bag, food, and lots of water. Freedom is to camp with the stars, and wildlife as only company 😉 I hope the weekend to come is more enjoyable for you my friend!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Maria! Like I said above to Montana Rose, we are thinking about various options. One is to head to harder to reach spots – maybe paddle in, or a longer hike.
      Anyway, I hope your weekend has been enjoyable!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I am all with you here… We had heard about bad behaviour in Yellowstone before we travelled down there last fall. Fortunately we didn’t experience any rude behaviour or noise – but it was probably partially since we travelled a bit later in the season (September). Too cold to sit outside during drinking during the night! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh man, couldn’t agree with you more plaidcamper. I seriously don’t get it either. Let’s go outdoors in this beautiful scenery to disrupt the peace and quiet and get drunk and swear. I guess there are just hillbillies everywhere.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The more I think about it, the less I understand it! Might have to take a lead from you, venture out to places requiring more effort to get to…
      Thanks, John, and I hope you’ve had a wonderful weekend!


  7. Hey Plaid camper, you and I are completely on the same page. I feel exactly the same way and I’ve, unfortunately, encountered the same thoughtless breed as you here in Australia. It seems they’re everywhere but I wish they’d stay at home instead of wrecking nature for those who simply want to enjoy the outdoors. Happy weekend to you from a (thankfully, quiet) campsite at Marysville.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Miriam! Now that’s an idea – if you can’t appreciate it, don’t go, and let those that are after a little peace find it! (It would involve being thoughtful though, and that didn’t seem to be a strong suit for those guys…oh well!)
      Anyway, I hope your camping trip was all you wished for it to be!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks Plaid Camper, just recently back from camping and catching up and yes, it was wonderful. Quiet, peaceful mountain air with no idiots around fortunately. I feel a new post coming soon!


  8. Ooo I was waiting for this post! Thank you so much! I agree 100% on everything. Why is it so difficult to think about the people who surround you and their enjoyment too. And our last camping experience where people left food in the coolers outside their tents instead of the provided bear boxes ended up probably being a death sentence to two young black bears who raided the campground during the night and kept approaching people during the night. Loud music, screaming, trashing, cursing, dogs running free. There is a reason why we’ve started to prefer off-season camping.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I thought you’d appreciate this one! Your comment about the bears is spot on – they get habituated, then likely put down. We just read about a female wolf put down near Banff because she was approaching tourists. The fear was her cubs were learning from her, so she was destroyed in the hope that her cubs retain/learn their wild ways from the male. But if there hadn’t been trash left out for her in the first place…
      I don’t know, thoughtless people are thoughtless!
      Have a wonderful week!


  9. Sorry you had this negative experience Adam………but when you share the bath tub……..someone always seems to fart! I haven’t done roadside (& yes,a walk in is still roadside) camping in decades for this very same reason. I suggest going further away. These kind of people are lazy & will go to the closest camp grounds.
    Good luck with your next one.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Oh my goodness we have been there. That described the very last time we camped at Two Jack Lake. I think it is good to vent. You never know, the right person might read this, and you might just make them think twice as to how they behave in nature.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. From the (admittedly small) range of comments shared about this post, it seems an all too common problem. It’s appalling behaviour wherever you might be, but can’t it be confined to the city? There are bars and clubs for those that want noisy gatherings…
      Oh well, we won’t be deterred!
      Thanks for your comment, and have a wonderful week!


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