I haven't been to field camp, and I likely won't get to due to all of the academic catchup that comes with a major switch of fields this late in the game. I did get to take a field mapping course this past quarter, though, and I enjoyed almost every minute of it (I say almost, because the one day where it got up to 105 in the shade, and there wasn't any shade, was a bit intense). The professor outright asked me to take his class, never mind that I didn't have the prerequisite. The class involved ten days in the field, split between two different field areas in the Mojave Desert. Some of those trips were only for a single day - both areas were a nice hour and a half drive away from campus - but there were three full-weekend outings involved, which meant I still got some of the campfire conversation aspect of longer-term field camp.
Of the two field areas, I was particularly taken with the sedimentary-focused one. Mule Canyon is in the Calico Mountains, off the same freeway exit that takes you to Calico Ghost Town. The canyon exposes the bright greens, reds, yellows, and oranges of the Miocene Barstow Formation (though without the fossils, from what I understand), plus some younger caps of purple(!) extrusive volcanics. The name "Calico Mountains" explained itself right there. Mule Canyon ranks up among the most beautiful places I've ever visited, and I really enjoyed mapping it. To me, it was like a giant puzzle, only I had to walk on the pieces to match edges, rather than snapping everything together from one bird's eye view.
The colors of Mule Canyon. I really wish I'd taken a long panoramic shot of the whole place.
We were the only geology class out there for the six days we spent in Mule Canyon, but there was no shortage of other people. Mule Canyon is a popular spot for RVers, offroaders, and shooting enthusiasts. Mapping there was never quiet: there was constant engine noise, spatters of gunfire all too close to the actual mapped area, and one RV that seemed to be in the same spot playing the same Britney Spears CD on repeat for several of our visits. It was also never without its share of idiocy, mostly not on the part of our class: the first day we were there, some visitor had the brilliant idea to shoot across the road, and there were all kinds of incidents of people attempting to drive vehicles up hills that were entirely too steep and sandy to really be wise. (We had fun with this one. One night, well after dark, we saw ATV lights running across what was clearly our measured section - a high and narrow measured section, no less - so the professor led a charge toward them with flashlights. They proceeded to leave.)
But the Britney Spears, the ricochets, and the jeeps cutting back and forth across beds I was trying to map did not even come close to making the experience of mapping at Mule Canyon a bad one. It's too fantastic and fascinating of a place for that. (We only mapped the predominantly-homoclinal section of it. There are crazy folds all around that are absolutely worth going back for.) If anything, I pity the recreational users of that land, too busy putting bulletholes and tire tracks into the landscape to realize its beauty.