June 6, 2014
The main reason for having gone camping since I was 20 was to get away. Sometimes you need to get away from your regular life and from all the inputs to pause your mind, get in touch with your centre, reconsider your priorities and check if your life is going as it should. It was during a camping getaway in Banff, Alberta, that we decided to go travel abroad. Good decision.
For optimal results, go backcountry camping.
Car camping vs backcountry
For many years we camped at Ontario Provincial and National Parks at the campsites which are accessible by car. This is very convenient and a great way to start camping. If you’re worried about comfort you can choose to bring a lot of little comforts. And you will have access to drinking water, warm water, flush toilets, showers and the park store. Backcountry campsites are those not accessible by car. They are deeper in the forest. You pack up a backpack and carry it to a campsite. The hike time will vary.
What to expect
You must be wondering about facilities. There may be water taps . They will usually be lake or natural stream water.
Showers – only if you carry a portable one (a collapsible water bag with a tap that you can hang somewhere over you, like this 5-Gallon Solar Shower
Toilets – sometimes there are outhouses (wooded structure , which covers a pit toilet, usually with a raised part that makes a seat). Sometimes there are privies. It’s a real pleasure to describe this to city people. Picture a wooden box (around 2’ x 3’ and 2’ high) with a hole on top. The top is covered with an additional lid. When you need to go you lift the lid, sit on the top on top of the hole. The lid serves to provide privacy behind your back. It’s generally positioned so the privacy lid shields the user form the path or campsite.
Is it worth the inconvenience?
You betcha. You see few other campers. You feel like you have the whole forest or lake to yourself. You can choose to stay at one campsite for your whole stay or walk between sites. I took a long hike on the Juan de Fuca trail (47 km) 10 years ago that I’m still learning from. Walking for a long time with a burden on your back (I’m talking about the physical burden of your pack on your back) strangely facilitates self-discovery. It shows you your weaknesses. The secret is, if you keep putting one foot in front of the other and don’t let your mind psyche you out, you find your strength too.
What to bring
As little as possible. But you do need:
- All your food plus some high calorie, low weight food in case of emergency
- Water or have a water purification system (read more on water purification here)
- Rain gear (if you’re gone a few days, the weather forecast will change)
- Rope to hang your food at night (so it won’t be eaten by animals and won’t be attracting animals due to easy access)
- First aid kit
- Small stove. Here's my favourite Cook Set. It sure does its magic in our backcountry trips. Do not try to bring your 2 burner Coleman.
- Safety items – you may choose to take special precautions if you are camping in areas where larger animals may pose dangers. We carry bear spray.
- Bug spray