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Saturday, August 15, 2020

    A staycation under the stars

    An epic spring break doesn’t require anything more than an open door, a sleeping bag and a sense of adventure.

    Bellingham lies less than an hour away from the Cascade Range and offers its visitors a lush wilderness to explore. Along the coast, Bellingham Bay’s waves crash against cliff sides and roll onto sandy beaches. Inland, state parks are hidden under the shadows of the majestic douglas fir trees, only to be uncovered by trekking never ending trails.

    No matter which landscape you choose, the night sky will look the same as you gaze up at the stars from the comfort of your sleeping bag.

    Illustration by Darby Womack

    Spending your spring break outside will allow you to unplug from the stresses of winter quarter. Nature does not have deadlines, flight times or a set agenda; it is a simple alternative to a pricey and overwhelming vacation.

    This time of year is technically the off-season in regards to camping. However, Silver Lake Park is open now. This park is just a scenic 40 minute drive away, east on Mount Baker Highway.

    Silver Lake’s crystal clear waters return a reflection of the lush foliage lining the shores. After you take some time to marvel at the view, you can begin planning your activities.

    Silver Lake Park offers boating, fishing, swimming, biking, horseback riding and more. It is one of two camping sites in Whatcom County, and is more than the typical pitch-a-tent type of site.  

    “We also have cabins and a lodge that has a few more amenities,” Darla Smith said, an administrative assistant at the Whatcom County Parks and Recreation Department.

    Traditional camping is still an option, as the park is home to individual and group campsites in four different areas.

    “You’re going to get more of a wilderness experience if you’re camping on a trail. It’ll be more difficult, but also more rewarding.”

    Emily Muth

    “We don’t require any passes to go camping, you just have to pay the camping fee,” Smith said.

    Close to the lake on the park’s north end is the cedar area, an optimal spot for tent and van camping. Maple Creek campsite is in the center of the park close to the lake and playground, plus it is equipped with electric and water hookups.

    The other two sites are specialty campgrounds. If you are traveling with your horse, the Red Mountain site has accommodations. If you are camping with a large group of people, there is a campsite on the south end of the park that caters to events and large gatherings.

    After choosing a campsite, all that’s left to do is pack. Silver Lake Park is set up as a drive-in campground, meaning packing up will be easier.

    “If you’re driving up to a campsite, you can obviously bring more stuff in your car or carry more that doesn’t have to be on your body,” sophomore Brisa Frame said, a Fairhaven student and Associated Students Outdoor Center equipment and desk rental attendant.

    Trail camping is appealing in its own right because you can explore the backwoods.

    Senior Emily Muth is an excursion coordinator for the Outdoor Center, and notes that there will be fewer people, but better views.

    “You’re going to get more of a wilderness experience if you’re camping on a trail. It’ll be more difficult, but also more rewarding,” Muth said.  

    Students can access almost everything they need to camp via rentals from the Outdoor Center on campus. Essentials such as tents, sleeping bags, sleeping liners, sleeping pads, rain flags and headlamps are all available to rent. Students can also special order equipment through the Outdoor Center if they prefer to own their gear.

    The only thing the Outdoor Center doesn’t offer are the proper clothing layers necessary in rainy or cold weather.

    “You need to be prepared for the weather this time of year. It can be pretty unpredictable,” Smith said.

    Although it has been cold this winter, there is a surefire way to stay warm while camping.

    “You can have a fire in a designated campfire pit site. If it has a fire ring there, you can have a campfire in that ring,” Smith said.  

    Imagine the crackling embers as you finish your finals, and get excited to spend your spring break outside. Soon you will breathe in, feel the cool crisp air in your lungs and prepare for the fresh start that is spring.


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