The Tough Guy Challenge began a few years back on the eve of the International Women’s Day. As the story goes, my buddy Robert and his then-roommate were asked to leave the flat so that the girls could celebrate their day by having a girls night in. Unfortunately for these guys, they came home too early, meaning late but still in the midst of the party, and that didn’t go over too well.
So as to not repeat the same faux pas the following year, Robert decided to go out camping for the night and come home much later: the next day. Why is it called the Tough Guy Challenge? Most guys don’t get a go-camping-with-your-buddies pass on a Women’s Day in Poland.
I was actually fairly surprised how heavily the Women’s Day is celebrated in Poland. I don’t remember it being a big deal in the States, in Poland however, it’s BIG. Between the women at my workplace to all the women in my family, there’s definitely a lot of flowers and sweets going around that day. It’s almost like a Valentines Day redux, so telling her “Hey Babe, I’m gonna go out camping, see you tomorrow” is quite a challenge. A Facebook event is made, a list of guys is invited, most claim that of course they’ll be there, but only a few actually show up. This was my first one, and I can’t quite tell just yet if I’ll be given the pass again next year. I’ve got a year or so to lay the groundwork for that one.
The camping trip began with a bang for me. I rode my motorcycle out to the site on Friday night and happened to catch a couple of rain clouds on the way. I arrived soaking wet at my uncle’s house in a city nearby and thanks to his roaring fireplace I dried out in a couple of hours flat. I was well ahead of schedule, and even with drying out I still managed to be first at the rendezvous point.
We then hiked a local mountain for just under an hour and found ourselves a good camping spot away from the trail. This wasn’t exactly a bring your own tent kind of a camp, the guys brought some tarp to make shelter, but I made do with a couple of emergency blankets that when taped around a pre-built structure made for a great wind and rain shelter.
The guys I was with were fairly fresh off of a survival training that took place a couple of months ago, so naturally, I was all ears as to how to camp out minimalist style.
-find a good flat space to camp – check
-don’t make your bed in a hole in case of rain/water – check
-look around for birch bark to start a fire – check
-get your flint and steel tool, make sparks fly on the bark, make fire – check
–(I had a lighter and waterproof matches…but I was almost kicked out for admitting as much)
-collect firewood – check
-collect wood to make a shelter structure – check
-make shelter with emergency blankets, foliage, duct tape – check
-sit around with the guys, tell stories, cook sausage, drink up, have a great time, sleep tight, the smell of dirt and open fire – check, check, check…you got the idea
I was a little hesitant at first about this trip as it would be my first ever just grinding it out in the wild, but Robert was bringing his poodle along so it couldn’t have been too hardcore. It was a great getaway from the mundane, if only for a night.