Howdy campers. One thing many people find appealing about backpacking is the simplicity of life to which we return. Being unconcerned with email, cell phones (although we still bring them for just this reason), schedules, and the general “noise” of life, is the whole idea behind strapping on the pack right? Embracing a simpler, slower lifestyle, even for a time, is the cathartic reason we do this.
It can be very fun and rewarding to take this mentality to the next level while in the outdoors. How can we achieve this? Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Light your fire with something other than a match. Use a Fire Drill, or Fire Piston (I have one of these and they are so cool!). Even in fire restricted areas you can practice the process of creating that all important ember which is hardest part. This is an excellent skill to have, but it takes practice.
Catch and cook tonight’s dinner. There isn’t a restaurant in the world that can cook up a Trout so well as one caught and cooked up a few hours later. Know your laws and limitations though, and don’t even think of fishing without the proper license, it can cost you every piece of gear you have with you (pole, tackle, tent, sleeping bag, clothes, GPS…everything). Also be aware that fish may well be the best bear attractant there is. Take precautions in bear country.
Learn some constellations. You can see the stars much better in the backwoods. Print off a few “star maps” before leaving and see if you can pick them out in the night sky.
Teach a camp mate the proper way to use a compass. Knowing, as I do, that you would never go off trail without knowing how to use your own map and compass, take some time to pass this knowledge on to another. Sadly, this is an art that’s dying. Do your part to educate the next generation of campers.
Learn how to gather clean drinkable water by making a solar still or wrapping a small bush in clear plastic to trap the condensation.
Finally. There’s one thing every camper should make certain to do on each and every camp out. Nothing, and plenty of it. We camp to recharge the ol’ batteries that every day life runs down. It actually takes practice to sit still and turn off the parts of our mind that are constantly running the rat race. Thirty minutes of stillness while you listen to a bird’s song or running water can be such a regenerating experience. Doing nothing is often the most important thing we can accomplish on a trip to the backwoods.
These are just a few suggestions of things you may find useful or entertaining to add to your skill set. If you choose and practice one new experience per outing, you may find yourself experiencing a much richer experience. On the other hand, I have had camp mates looking at me as though I was clearly not playing with a full deck. “We’re here to do as little as possible, and cram in as much nothing as possible” they say. I would be the last person to argue with this line of thinking. To each their own, right?
Until next time, I’ll see you on the trails.
(Somewhat) Quick Tip: As silly as it sounds, our minds can get so wound up just living our work-a-day lives. It can be very difficult for some people to wind down that mental state and relax.
Here’s a tip for calming the mind and helping you enter a meditative state that helps. Starting with the number one, count slowly to the number ten. As you think of each number, picture it in your mind, and give it a color. Be random, resist any compulsion to create a pattern etc.
By so doing, you access each part of the mind. By focusing attention on the detail such as picturing the number, and giving it a color, you are telling that part of your mind “I’m in control of this, and you are no longer free to run wild”. This is a exercise of mental control, and you’ll find it very calming.
Check out trails in your area: icedjamb.com’s Trail Guide