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Are you heading out for your first camping trip of the season? Here’s a look at ours and what we brought with us.

 

This winter seemed to last a little longer in New England, and by the time the snow melted, I was ready for spring. I found a quaint campground called Belview Campground in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom for our first outing of the season, and while it’s mostly RV sites, they boast a very unusual spot to pitch a Stout bell tent. 

The Waterfall Site is separated from the rest of the sites, and if you want to spend the night listening to the sound of rushing water, I’d highly recommend it. 

We arrived on a Sunday morning in May, shortly after thunderstorms had dropped an inch of rain on most of Vermont. We could hear the waterfall long before we could see it, and when it did come into view, it was breathtaking. I’d expected a few small cascades; I was treated to a large waterfall, plunging several granite slabs to a swiftly flowing brook. 

Enjoying the view from our campsite.

We hauled our stuff down the path to the site and quickly found the flattest spot to lay out the tent. I’m always surprised at how fast the tent comes together; we had the entire thing standing in less than 15 minutes. 

This trip had three purposes: to visit the waterfall site, get an early spring hike in neighboring New Hampshire, and look at what we were missing in our camping gear before we headed out on a more extended outing. 

You can look through your gear and make a reasonable assessment, but sometimes even a seasoned camper will overlook a necessary item and find out (the hard way) what they left behind. 

Some of the gear we used for early spring:

Jackery portable electric/solar generator

air mattress (this is a questionable item in cooler weather)

three-season double sleeping bag (night temps were still in the 40s)

solar string lights

propane stove and canister

cast iron skillet (great for over the fire)

kitchen items 

rug for the tent

carpet for the door to keep the inside clean

solar string lights

Our solar string lights illuminate the forest at night. So cozy.

I keep all our camping gear in totes in the basement. We backpack, car camp, and now camp with our bell tent, and each outing requires slightly different equipment. I didn’t want to fill the car with unnecessary items, so I shuffled things around in preparation for this trip. 

 

After setting up camp and admiring the falls, we drove to the Webster Cliff Trail in New Hampshire. The hike passes through a beautiful hardwood forest and onto breathtaking ledges with views of Crawford Notch and New Hampshires’ famous Presidential Mountains. Mount Washington, known for having some of the world’s worst weather, rose benignly into a clear blue sky on this particular day. 

 

After the hike, we drove back to camp to make dinner and get our first outdoor sleep of 2022. We took several camping trips last year, and I’m going to admit, when I looked at our propane canisters, I was so sure they were both full that I only kept one in the tote I packed to bring with us. When we got ready to cook, it was apparent we would cut it close. Thankfully, we had enough propane to cook dinner and boil the water I wanted for tea. As we went through the rest of the dinner process, I found several other things I needed to replace, like last year’s honey, olive oil, salt, and even some silverware. We managed to pull together a knife, two spoons, and one fork (I had a plastic fork in the car for our second.) It was a wake-up call to remember to look more carefully next time. 

 

I drifted to sleep to the sound of rushing water. When the dishes were done and the fire extinguished, we enjoyed the falls and headed to bed. From inside the tent, I could hear the rush of water as I fell asleep. Sure, we’d missed a few things on our first outing, but we hadn’t missed the chance to get out and enjoy a night away.