Backcountry camping tips

 

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Killarney, Ontario - We found this little paradise on our way to the first portaging site
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Battling With Nature

Compared to the fall camping season, when the weather is a little more forgiving, this particular trip early in the season was needless to say one of the more challenging that we’ve experienced in a while. In one weekend we grappled with natures’ demanding elements: 15km/h winds (while paddling), hail, snow, and rain. That’s the thing about backcountry camping – you have to be prepared for anything.  

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Killarney - Camping isn't camping, without our fishing gear
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Since I’ve been living in North America, my activities revolve around nature and being outdoors.  Growing up in the Philippines with temperatures that reach up to 35ºC (95ºF) with humidity, in the summer, doesn’t compel the populous to remain outside and camp.  Instead, staying indoors with the A/C blasting is the much preferred alternative.

It wasn’t until I was 7, when I moved to North Carolina that I fully experienced 4-season weather conditions.  Venturing outside for seasonal adventures was an anomaly for me, but I loved it.

From then on simple things such as swimming in a lake, fishing, camping, and hiking are activities I try to do as often as I can.  I’m also quite pleased that my fiancé enjoys these outdoor excursions as much as I do.  It’s rare that we’re indoors.

The more we camp/hike the more we learn the little tricks that work or don’t work.  We really like to try to do as many things from scratch, and make use of items that we have in our home to eliminate waste and be as environmentally friendly as we possibly can.

Each time we go camping, we do some research on innovative ways to make our camping experience a little more interesting by learning a new skill.

Always Learning

This time, we made firestarters using 4 main items: drier lint, egg cartons, wax and dental floss.  I ended up making about 20, and we only used about 6 of them for 3 days.  The burning time was about 4-minutes long!  It’s amazing what you can do with things you would generally throw away at home.

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Campfire - This was one of the many homemade firestarters
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Last year we went camping in Bon Echo, and our amazing MEC dry bags  (where our food had been stored), were violently torn apart and rummaged through by bear-sized (which is what my fiance likes to tell people, but in actuality they were the size off little koalas), raccoon’s.

In the raccoon’s defense, it wasn’t their fault.  Our dry bags were hung a little too close to the ground and right next to the tree trunk.  This gave them an advantage to effortlessly leap on to our dry bag and feast on our provisions with their razor-sharp claws.

At one point, early in the morning, a battle ensued between the two “dinosaurs” (what my fiancé firmly believed to be the case).  If you’ve never heard raccoons quarrel, it’s a little unnerving.  They are loud and sound like large gremlins in combat.

This incident taught us that hanging your dry bags properly is vital.  We were lucky that they were only raccoons (and not bears) that rooted through our bags.

This time around, we had a plan to ensure that the dry bags would be fool-proof.

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Killarney - When you take it down, make certain the ropes are nice and taut
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The Method

Ryan did his own amended (and brilliant) version of a Two-Tree Bear Bag Method.  This worked seamlessly. One thing we’ll emphasize is that you need to ensure that you hang your bag at least 200 feet downwind from your sleeping area.

When tying knots to secure the lines of the bag, we always use sailing knots (since we’re most comfortable and familiar with this), and it has proven to work well for us when we sail, as well as camp.  The most common and extremely functional sailing knot we’ve used is the bow line knot.

On our next camping trip, we’ll want to try another bag-hanging technique which is called the PCT Method.

We’ll let you know how that works out and which we most likely prefer!

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Killarney - Just the 3 of us
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