8 Ways to Avoid Camp Clueless

No one likes looking like a clueless tenderfoot. But there are at least three sure-fire ways to peg yourself as a Mount Rainier Rookie, right off the bat. They include clothing, cosmetics, and camp robbers.


Attire is often a Rainier Rookie/Camp Clueless dead giveaway. Rookies dress like the weather in one part of the park is standard throughout. Not! It may 75 degrees at Ohanapecosh, where blue puffs of benign breezes muss hemlock hair. But Ohana’s elevation is 1,870 feet–significantly lower than most of the park. In fact, Ohana is where “clueless rookies” are lured into donning shorts, sandals and tank tops for a day trip through the park. A thirty minute drive up the serpentine coils of Stevens Canyon Road to Reflection Lakes, and those duds aren’t quite as chic as they were 3,000 feet ago.

Lose the Cosmetics

While we’re on the topic – sort of – you can often tell a female Rainier Rookie by the amount of time she spends primping in front of a mirror.  Trying to blow dry sleeping-bag hair. Crumpling into a crying jag when the mascara runs out.

Ladies, do yourself a favor.  When you hit the trails or the campground, leave the make-up at home. Because when it comes to make-up, mountains and hitting the trail, no body cares. Cosmetic-lessness isn’t a leading cause of death far as I know.  So relax.

Don’t Fall for Camp Robbers

Another sure-fire way to peg a Rainier Rookie is watching them with “camp robbers.”  Plump, dark-beaked and gray-feathered, these brazen bandits will make off with your entire campsite if you let them, hence their ubiquitous nickname.

Rainier Rookies toss bread crumbs or lunch leftovers to “the pretty gray birds” without a second thought (We see this all the time at Narada Falls, Reflection Lakes, or Paradise.) The next thing you know, every gray jay on the planet swoops out of the trees, dive bombing the hapless picnickers like a squadron of B-24s.  It’s a scene right out of Hitchcock.  The same goes for chipmunks, squirrels, deer, foxes, and… you name it!

Did I say three ways to peg yourself as a Rainier Rookie? Belay that. Here’s a fourth: Tearing into the campground hours after sundown and trying to pitch a tent for the first time in the dead of night. If nothing else screams “rookie,” that’ll do it.

Here are 8 Ways to Avoid Rainier Rookie-dom:

  • Read the National Park Service brochure distributed by the friendly NPS rangers at each entrance gate.
  • Invest in a good map.
  • Dress in layers.
  • Check the daily weather report. (Visitor centers at Ohanapecosh, Paradise and Sunrise typically have them posted on white boards.)
  • Bring a jacket – even if it’s 75 degrees at Ohanapecosh. You can always peel it off later if the day heats up for more than twenty minutes.
  • Be sure to bring sunscreen and a hat, but leave the make-up at home.
  • Don’t Feed The Animals – no matter how cute or cajoling.
  • Practice pitching your tent before you arrive at the campground. And make sure to bring a battery-powered light source.


What would you add?


Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

2 Responses