These hiking and camping tips can greatly enhance your enjoyment of the great outdoors and the back country. They are designed not only to help you have a better time in the wilderness but also to help you help others have a good experience in the outdoors.
The golden rule works in the wilderness as well in other areas of life. Do in the back country for others as you would like them to do for you. Leave a clean campsite and minimize your impact on the environment so others can enjoy the beauty of the surrounding area just like you would like to.
Below are some tips that are designed to help you do three things: have more fun, leave the least negative impact on the environment and be the best possible neighbor to other campers.
Spring, Summer and Fall
Be Proactive: Get your camping permit early, especially during peak season. If possible, find online what you are looking for. For instance, if you want to camp in a national park or in a national forest, find that agency online. Then look for instructions on getting a permit. If you wait until the day that your hike begins, get your permit early in the day. You will have a lot better chance of getting a good campsite.
Don’t wait until you are on the trail to start figuring out where you might be camping for the night. Start with a conversation with a ranger or a short session with a guidebook.
Doing either one or both of these will give you plenty of peace of mind.
Anticipate: Near rivers and lakes and trail junctions is where you are likely to find camp sites. Keep this in mind while following your progress on your map.
Make sure you arrive at your campsite a couple of hours before the sun goes down. You will have a lot easier time setting up camp while there’s still light. Believe me. I have had to set up camp in the dark before, it’s no fun.
Cooperate: Camp only in designated camp sites. Let’s say you see a great place to pitch your tent. Yes! It’s got a great view, and look, it’s right next to a beautiful stream. But, what does that sign say? No camping? Yes, that’s what it means, and there is undoubtedly a good reason. That particular area might need some time to recuperate. So do the right thing. Give the former campsite a rest, and find another spot where camping is permitted.
Make your environmental impact as minimal as possible. Don’t set up your camp on or trample vegetation. Camp where other people have camped before. Or set up camp on a smooth rock or on bare ground. This way you will not mess up a pristine piece of territory.
Be considerate of others as you select your site. If at all possible, give them some space and let them keep their view. Tent walls are thin, and until bedtime there are no walls at all to separate you from your neighbors. Don’t be a visual or auditory barrier to your neighbors’ enjoyment. Rules for being a good neighbor apply even more in the wilderness.
Know How to Choose a Great Spot: Closeness to water is your first consideration for choosing a camp site. But not too close. Ideally the best place to be is a couple hundred feet from the water and also from the trail. That way you can stay out of sight of the trail and also allow wild animals access to the water.
You will need water for cooking, for cleaning up, and for getting a new supply of filtered drinking water. If you brought fishing gear, you’ll want to use it, perhaps, to catch your supper. And finally, the sound of a babbling brook or lapping waves in a lake will work great too lull you to sleep.
If bugs give you a fit, finding a spot that is a little breezier might help.
If you are dealing with significant wind, use trees or boulders as a windbreak. Stay away from low spots. Both water and chilly air tend to accumulate in such places.
If you are planning to use your campsite for more than one night, try to find a shady spot. This will keep your tent from deteriorating due to the pounding sun.
By orienting your tent opening toward the east, you can let the rising sun awaken you in the morning. Of course, if you would rather sleep a little longer, turn your tent opening in another direction.
When choosing a camp site on the beach, be sure to stay above the most obvious high tide line. Surfing is one thing. But surfing in a tent is a whole different matter.
Be Responsible: When setting up your camp in the snow, try to avoid areas where your tent and your trampling feet will kill underlying plants. Also move away from animal tracks. They may indicate a vital trail for wildlife.
Choose Wisely: Following the principle we discussed above, camp on high ground and not in the hollows were cold air will settle. Also consider, in making your campsite choices, where the morning sun will shine first. Get the warming rays as soon as you can.
Look for signs of harsh wind and avoid these areas. Some signs are hard and frosty snow as compared to softer snow in other areas.
Avalanche! Avoid like the plague areas of past avalanche activity. Look for mowed down trees and debris in snow-collection basins. Look up the slope for any steeply pitched couloirs. Any of these signs call for a change of campsite immediately to a safer place.
I hope these camping and hiking tips focused on choosing a camp site will be useful on your next adventure into the wilderness.