Ridge Wilderness Adventures Blog
The New YearDecember 18th, 2015 | by April Nickerson | in | 0
As the year draws to a close, we look back on the awesome season we've had here at Ridge, and ahead to a new year full of exciting possibilities and changes. I love Christmas and New Years, as a time of reflection on the past, all the beautiful moments and memories , and a fresh start for the future. It's a much needed time away from work, to relax, disconnect, be thankful for the little things, talk to people instead of your phone, to slow down and simplify life for a while.
Everyone has a different way of doing this, but my favorite is to go camping/canoe tripping. Preferably when the rest of the city isn't, which usually means there is inclement weather and everyone calling me crazy:) This has made for some epic camping trips, amazing memories and alot of lessons learned about what make or break a good time!
So in the spirit of lists and resolutions, this post is all about some essentials for ensuring a safe trip and great experience despite bad weather and a few surprises:)
The Right Clothing
Ladies, this is not where fashion comes into play. Warmth, and how well it keeps you dry definitely takes precedence!
Wool and fleece are your best friends. Layer, layer and repeat. You will likely look something akin to a shapeless large old fisherman minus the beard, ( the kind on "worlds biggest catch",not the cable knit sweater with matching boots in a Lands End catalogue) Rubber boots and thick wool socks are the best combo of footwear, good in temperatures right up to just above freezing. .Always pack more socks than you think you need and an extra toque. Finding a clean and dry pair of socks on the last day of trip is better than Christmas morning, and you can hide any sort of bad hair day under a toque. That $400 rain jacket will be worth every penny after 52 hours of constant rain believe me...if you are going to spend any sort of money, spend it on a good rain shell.
I heartily recommend a camping trip as a date.... it's a great way to separate the frogs from the princes:) If he still likes you after 4 days in the bush with no shower or makeup, doesn't lose it putting up a tent in the dark and pouring rain, and you haven't run out of things to talk about at the end of trip, he's a keeper. Bonus if he can build a fire, put up a tarp, and navigate while paddling;) Guys, this goes for you too, if she doesn't complain about having no wifi or mirror, can hold her own with a paddle and a fully loaded pack, and can cook anything over a campstove, put a ring on it:)
The Right Shelter
Tarps are vital on any camping trip. They provide shade in the summer if needed, and are fantastic in any sort of other weather. Have a variety of sizes, always larger than you think you might need, with enough ropes for each. Tarps are great as extra protection for your tent fly, so you don't wake up with a massive puddle inside your tent. They're also wonderful to cook meals under so your food doesn't get soggy, and to protect your fire in wet weather. Having a large tarp over your kitchen area encourages group bonding and conversation outside of everyone's tents. In a stiff wind, you can rig up a sail and save yourself some paddling!
Another fun tip: dig a trench around your tent so the water runs around it and away. This may seem like extra work at 5pm, but at 11pm when the rain has become a rushing stream and it's NOT flowing through your tent...it may be the best idea you ever had:)
The Right Tools
A sharp hatchet, a variety of firestarters, matches AND lighters.
A camp stove with more than enough fuel. Stoves and fires are the backbone of a camping trip especially in bad weather. Without the ability to get warm or cook food, things can quickly progress to hazardous (depending on the weather and circumstances of course) and may ensure the need for early departure and cancellation of the trip.
Proper food storage is vital out in the woods. We use large barrels to store our food... the thick plastic and screw on lids minimize smells and keep out small creatures. Keep a clean campsite. Hang your garbage every night away from the sleeping areas, and make sure food is properly stored. This includes anything with a scent, ie. toothpaste and makeup( another reason not to wear it girls:)) NEVER keep any food in your tent unless you really want to wake up to some little furry friends and holes in your tent and sleeping bag! You have more chance of being visited by small creatures than bears, but you are out in the wilderness and it's their home too. Keeping a clean and organized camp is not only functional but a positive safety factor.
Water filtration back-up. There are loads of options out there and everyone has a favorite and what works for them. If you are going to just boil water to drink, make sure it comes to a rolling boil for at least 2 1/2 minutes and let it cool before putting it into a plastic water bottle. I love the Playpus gravity filter...it worked great on both backpacking canoe trips in Ontario where size/weight was an issue, and here in BC on Ridge big-canoe trips. Make sure the water is as clear as possible when scooping it up to filter it. It's fast, easy, and if you're organized about it, you can easily keep a large group supplied with safe drinking water all trip.
Rope and lots of it. Use it to rig up all your tarps, tie up your canoe so it doesn't blow away, or tie up your food bins in a bear hang. You can also make a teepee out of three big logs, tieing them together at the top and stretching a tarp over it to make a 2 sided shelter for your campfire in the rain. Use good quality rope, and make sure it's not too old and stiff so it doesn't snap on you while in use.
Don't forget your first aid kit! Make sure you know whats in it, how to use it, and include a field guide for quick under-pressure help. Take a basic wilderness first aid course... you never know when it will come in handy.
The Right Food
Have a variety of both quick cooking foods as well as actual meals with a good balance of carbs,protein and veggies. Instant noodles and soup are great for quickly warming you up and providing a surge of energy. Hot chocolate and instant coffee make for an awesome mocha and helping you forget you're away from the creature comforts of home. A travel mug or thermos is a must, especially on cold weather trips!
It can be hard to want to drink water on a rainy trip, but staying hydrated is so important for both your basic body functions and your emotional/mental well being. Veggies are a great way to get a bit more water in your system without actually having to drink. Try to include even a few, and get creative! They can be dried (just let them soak in water a couple hours previously to cooking) or fresh, and add so much flavor and good stuff to a meal. Don't be afraid to take your time and enjoy the process of preparing a meal. You're camping, you have the time! Working together as a group, having one person manning the stove, other people chopping and prepping and others providing entertainment ( usually singing, with occasionally their own added lyrics) makes for a hilarious dinner and is a huge mood booster, especially on a rainy cold trip.
I love experimenting with dishes I can make on a camp stove or over a campfire and will be sharing my cooking attempts as I try new dishes for Ridge's 2016 trips:)
The Right Attitude
It may sound a bit cheesy, but you'd be amazed at how much the wrong attitude can affect a camping trip. Let's face it, in an ideal world, everything would always go well... but in this world, things go wrong! When you forget some important piece of gear, you're tired, cold, and Mother Nature is throwing everything she possibly can at you... it can be really hard to stay positive! Anything can be solved with positive thinking and a little( or alot) of creativity. Keep a big picture attitude..." Is everyone alive and safe?" "Can it be fixed?" Can we do without it?" What else can we use?"
My mother always told me, " What screws us up the most in life is the picture in our heads of how it's supposed to be..."
Throw away the plan book, and look at obstacles as puzzles or challenges rather than insurmountable problems impossible to solve.
I threw away brevity along with my plan book on this post:) Hope this helps some of you be better prepared for your next awesome adventure and don't forget to take pictures!
Merry Christmas and a very Happy New year from all of us at Ridge! See you in 2016!:)
PS. Check out this awesome article... a great read!
Hear what folks are saying!
We had a fantastic lesson with Courtland. It was great to see the girls' skills improve over the lesson - they had a great time (and so did Reggie the dog!) Courtland was super supportive, positive and flexible.