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What I learned from camping in the wilderness for five days....

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posted on Jul, 15 2009 @ 06:39 PM
What my trip comprised of:
I kayaked every day to get to a new campsite, portaged twice, went up and down a FAST river, and tried to hike a mountain. The weather was good, very few bugs, but I had to endure a few hours of kayaking in the rain (that was fun!! seriously ^.^), and kayaking against a really strong afternoon wind (a real pain).
My trip took place in a provincial park- there is a ranger (really a maintenance guy) who checks all the campsites and keeps tabs on the people who are out in the lakes. And because it was a provincial park, no hunting allowed. The fishing was great, though!

THIS WAS NOT A SURVIVAL TRIP!! Well, it was surviving on whatever I could jam into my kayak, but I did pack a tent, sufficient food, a stove, clothing, proper footwear, etc. But for the most part being out in the (semi) wilderness was a good trial run for the most basic survival skills.

This is what I learned. Some of it the hard way, other I though of beforehand (and after >.

posted on Jul, 15 2009 @ 06:40 PM
To make an effective tipi:
1) Place two logs parallel, but with space between them.
2) Place some bark (preferably birch) in a pile, on top of the space between these two logs. If you cannot find bark, then improvise to make a flat platform.
3) Pile DRY cedar leaves on top of the bark. (Again, improvise. High-oil trees like pine leaves and birch bark work well if cedar is unavailable.)
4) Place one cotton ball on top of this, in the middle of your bark and cedar pile.
5) Place some cedar or pine twigs in a tipi on top of your cotton ball, leaving an opening at the front for you to light the cotton on fire.
6) Build up the tipi with larger and larger twigs and sticks, until you have one about as wide as your two logs on which the whole thing is balanced. Then place two or three logs cross-wise as larger additions, outside the two bottom logs. As long as you leave a hole to the center cotton ball, at the front, you don't have to worry too much about allowing space for air, so pile on as much fuel as you want.
7) Light this on fire by taking a second cotton ball, poking it on the end of a stick (like a marshmallow), and lighting it on fire with your matches or lighter or magnifying glass, whatever. Use the stick to move the now-flaming cotton ball into contact with the other, at the center of the tipi. Leave it there. Your whole tipi should flame up in a minute or two, and your larger logs will catch almost immediately.

Cedar or pine wood, branches, and leaves: These three trees have amazing fire-starting and restorative powers. Chuck some on an ailing fire and *poof* away you go with an incredible burst of flames and heat. Short, but it lasts long enough so the fire will catch larger kindling.

Birch Bark - Base your fire tipi on this and you will have a roaring blaze.

Matches - These get damp very easy, and several may be needed in lighting a fire (unless you use cotton balls or some other REALY dry and good starter-fuel).

Lighter - A lighter will last longer and be of more use than a box of matches if only because it has a more constant flame, and what's use can be extended as long a necessary (you use a match, it's done. A lighter can be used MANY times, and for a little or as long as you need).

Cotton Balls - The BEST fuel to start a fire with because they burn with an obvious flame, are dry, and burn for a while. Be sure to keep them dry.

Old Mans Beard - Although this makes a tempting fire-starter, I do not think it is worth it. Unless completely dry, Old Mans Beard smokes and steams, and does not burn. And when it is dry, the amount of fuel provided is insignificant, because it burns swiftly and with little heat, thus wasting your matches and not catching well.

You do not eat as much as you think you do: When exercising, you do not eat nearly as much as you think you might - you do not feel hungry. But still MAKE SURE YOU EAT! Don't eat a lot; just eat some. If you do not eat, your stomach will refuse food later, and you'll vomit (I unfortunately found this out the hard way. So make sure you eat, PLEASE!) Another thing I noticed was that my stomach was smaller and my tastes had changed. See "Snacks" below.

What to take: On account of my allergies (predominantly to chemicals), I do not eat ready-mix meals. Like the ones where you just open the bag and pour in some hot water, let sit, and eat. Although these weigh less, I think the value and nutritional content of taking *real* food is well worth the extra weight. And in my case, there's not much I can do about it. Anyhow, here is what I took, food-wise:

Breakfast: Porridge with nuts and seeds and dried fruit is great. A small bowl seemed good.

Cont'd Below...

posted on Jul, 15 2009 @ 06:41 PM
Lunch: In the middle of your day, doing what ever (in my case, kayaking), a small but substantial lunch feels good. Three cracker-packs (sometimes two), and a bit of protein. I had cheese; I will take some nut butter next time. You will not want to eat a lot, but what you do eat should fill you up. (I like Susies Organic Chili and Garlic crackers, because the whole package is wrapped in cardboard, and the crackers individually packaged, so you can grab some and go).

Dinner: Quinoa takes about 15 minutes too cook. Add a tin of salmon and you're ready to go. This tastes good, does not feel like too much food, and is easy to eat.

Snacks and what not to bring: The best snack I found was to be granola bars (homemade). They have sugar but are not too sugary, and are chewy and good to just eat. I found candied ginger and chocolate were not good to take, because after the sugar surge I felt listless. Too much sugar is a bad thing :O

Random other but equally important stuff

"Edible" wild foods: DO NOT EAT SOMETHING UNLESS YOU ARE 100% POSITIVE it is what you think it is. For instance... What does not smell like onion but LOOK like onion can be an EXTREMLY poisonous, toxic plant - Death Camass. This is something that happened to me (Not that I ate the onion and was poisoned) I thought, hey, aren't those are wild onions.... wait... were's the onion smell? And at camp that night I checked my book!!

Thermometer and compass: self explanatory. Both of which I forgot to bring.

Flashlight: Smart when trying to find the outhouse and there is no moon or stars to light your way. And also to see if that is a bear, or just a very large stump....

Candle: When the sun goes down early and you want some light around your campsite, a candle on the picnic table works great. Also serves as a fire-starter.

Mini BOB: A mini (waterproofed) bug-out bag, on TOP of (or easily grabbed) in your boat (but tied down) is a great idea in case you lose your boat. Note - IF YOU BOAT FLIPS, DO NOT LEAVE IT! It has flotation chambers that should keep it up, even upside down. But in the WORST CASE SCENARIO, if you LOSE YOU BOAT , a back-up bag will be much appreciated. If you make it to shore... Hey- stuff a life raft in yours if you want

In mine I had my emergency bivy bag, matches, a candle, sewing kit, flashlight, swiss army knife, super-absorbent towel, 2 plant ID and edibility books, some bags, a few menstrual pads (bandage-wise), wrist brace, tensor bandage, sling, kerchief, about 30 feet of thin wire, dental floss, and a metal water bottle (empty). My theory being that if the kayak sinks, and I grab the bag, the empty water bottle will keep the bag floating. Secondly, once I got to shore and started a fire, I could boil water inside the metal bottle suspended on wire over the fire. Then I just had to wait for it to cool, and pop the cap on and walk along the shore for help, or what ever.

Use your space wisely: Don't bring ceramic containers. Actually, don't bring containers of any type, at all. Use plastic bags. And do not bring a "beach" towel - bring a super-absorbent small one.

Don't push yourself: Move in the morning when the sun is not as hot and the wind not as strong. Pull ashore when the wind blows (really strong), stay in the shade for the afternoon, and if you have to continue on in the evening. Otherwise I'd recommend trying to get to your campsite before the heat and afternoon wind. If you are doing something that is too strenuous, like climbing a vertical mountain slope, do the smart thing and STOP. If you get hurt, you're on your own. You can't dial 911.

Locking knife-blade: If you are using magnesium and flint to light a fire, be sure to have a locking knife-blade, without any covering. And in general, I find a locking knife is safer than my folding (and semi-locking) swiss army knife. Sure, it's great to cut cheese with, but once you start trying to gut something, the design becomes unwieldy.

Cont'd below.

[edit on 15-7-2009 by Cariaddi]

posted on Jul, 15 2009 @ 06:41 PM
Swiss-Army knife: This little guy has been invaluable. Although the knife itself does not stand up to heavy-duty use (such as gutting, etc), it is great for around-camp stuff, like making cards out of note-paper because you forgot to BRING a pack of cards, or lighting a fire with the attached magnifying glass, or clipping a hang-nail, etc. My knife has a pair of tweezers, which is great, as well as a punch-and-needle contraption (Used for sails. And poking large holes in stuff). Great little tool.

Sewing kit: Self explanatory.

Cards: Great way to pass time

Tea Tree Oil - The best all-around vial of medicine to carry. It is anti-bacterial and anti-fungal, but most importantly, it keeps away bugs! Can also be used to clean sap or dirt from your fingers EXTREMELY well. When rubbed into the skin it can be used as a joint-pain reducer... or so a friend of mine swears.

Kerchiefs - As much as I don't want to say this, I got sick the third night out. Not a stomach flu, fortunately, but my balance went weird and I had an orchestra of crickets in my ears. My nose wouldn't stop running, and I was sneezing and coughing all day (and night) long. Because there was a limited supply of toilet paper (and no kleenex), I had to use something else.... a kerchief. It worked very well as kleenex, didn't clutter up camp, or make a giant pile of waste I would have had to pack out.

Emergency Bivy Bag (one of those space-age shiny thingies) - Aside from the obvious reason of "just in case", I was really glad to have this on my trip. You see, on the third day, me and my companion tried to climb the mountain above the campsite, but we turned around because the trail went straight up and the temperatures were in the near thirties... at EIGHT in the MORNING. Anyhow, my companion has poor knees, so going up at such an angle was really not such a good idea for him. But if we has pushed on, and something had happened to his knee, I would have to go down the mountain and wait for the ranger to come by the next day, or flag down a power boat (not a very good idea in a kayak). So, hypothetically speaking, it would have been 24 hours before I could get help, and the nights are COLD where I was, especially higher up mountain. Having the emergency bivy bag would have kept my companion warm until help arrived. (And it also changed his mind about me carrying around one, amongst other prep stuff, in my purse for "daily life")

There is a bunch more stuff I could go on about, but I've covered the most important stuff that I found useful (or not!). If you have any questions, just ask! I hope I can answer them ^.^

posted on Jul, 15 2009 @ 06:46 PM
You forgot three things

fishing pole


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[edit on 15-7-2009 by DontTreadOnMe]

posted on Jul, 15 2009 @ 06:52 PM
Good post.

What I've learned over the years is that it takes practice to be prepared.

Actually going out into the wilderness is a great vacation but also it prepares you just in case.

posted on Jul, 15 2009 @ 06:56 PM
I think that this is a great post. A lot of people can learn a lot from reading about experiences like this. Its not hard core but it shows that you can have a good time outside with not much at all. And i bet he will do it again

posted on Jul, 15 2009 @ 07:28 PM
Star and flag!!
MODS!!!!Applaud this guy.
I just spent 5 days in the bush as well.I rented a cabin tho...I did the canoe trips alone and did the bush alone many times.This year I wanted a cabin for the comfort.
I was screwed for water.
I was told I had a well....which I did,only problem...IT HAD NO WATER!!
It rained alot so I had water there but collecting it I had to trek a half km down a bit of a hill slash cliff to get drinking water.
I had a filter as well and it was a godsend.

I am going again this weekend for a night to test out my new hammock and tarp.

Edit to add...Look up the plant also keeps the bugs away and is an anti-fungal type plant.Bugs hate it and it heals cuts and for me is a bit of a miracle plant.

[edit on 15-7-2009 by DrumsRfun]

[edit on 15-7-2009 by DrumsRfun]

posted on Jul, 16 2009 @ 08:37 AM
I congratulate you on your level of preparedness. I wanted to add an additional excellent fire starting method. Bring along a nine volt battery and some steel wool, but store them separately. The steel wool must be of the non coated variety. When you touch the steel wool to both terminals of the nine volt battery, it will quickly ignite and you can add other combustible material to build your fire up. Works excellent to start fires, even in the rain.

Another handy item is something I have used over the years called Fire Sticks but is spelled slightly different. This is largely wood shavings embedded with wax and formed into sticks. If you have a woodworking project, save shavings and sawdust and mix with candle wax to make your own. I would suggest that you try it before you rely on it.

[edit on 16-7-2009 by Zioptis]

posted on Jul, 16 2009 @ 08:42 AM
reply to post by Cariaddi

Really good thread man, hearing some of the things you've been doing really took me back to childhood days! I was always an outdoor kinda kid.. odd considerin my freakishly soft skin.. anyway you've spurred me on to get some of these things stashed away in a rucksack just incase.

Excellent idea for a thread, unlucky forgetting a few items (specially the cards!) but man.. every single person should have these things stocked at home and you can guarantee a lot of people won't have any of them.

I'm gonna hit the camping stores at the weekend!

posted on Jul, 16 2009 @ 09:17 AM
reply to post by Cariaddi

Rather then using toilet paper to get the fire going, try find some shale rock that breaks easily (so you dont dull your nice if you dont have too) Then scrape bark shavings off a tree. Most standing trees will always be dry but if not you can always get the the dry surface area of the bark.

If your around a water area with cattails grab them and open them up. The cotton type stuff in there go up fast.

posted on Jul, 16 2009 @ 09:40 AM
Starred and Flagged!

Great Post.
As far as fire-starting, that is a great description of the Teepee. I also look for trees that have "injuries". The dried sap makes a good fire starter. I have also used Firesteel instead of the Mg block. It seems to work much easier. If you use the Mg block, try to find a good one (100%). There are many knockoffs that have 'fillers' in them that are not Mg. It should be extremely light if it is the real thing.

Great advice on the beach towel. Those super-absorbent car towels would make a great addition to my pack. I will be adding those!

Great advice also on the 'metal' water bottle. That has many additional uses. Clear plastic bottles are good for the UV purification, but certainly no use for boiling!

I agree with the earlier poster:


posted on Jul, 16 2009 @ 10:01 AM
great post. great advice. awesome tips...

sounds like a good time, eh?

posted on Jul, 16 2009 @ 10:12 AM
Good thread...

Re: Food, anyone heading out into the woods should consider a bear canister of some sort. If you attach it to a thin cord and hang it from a tree you will have greater peace of mind that a bear won't coming knocking in the morning.

Never keep food in your tent (tarp, etc.)!

This includes toothpaste, deodorant, lip balm, etc. - anything that goes in your mouth or on your skin can attract bears or coyotes.

posted on Jul, 16 2009 @ 10:48 AM
When you are at home, save your dryer lint! It makes fantastic tinder. Put it in a tin, such as an altoids tin, or prince albert tin, then seal it with wax. Use what you need(very littele) then reseal it with a candle. I use a firesteel to start mine, and two strinkes at most is what it takes to get the tender going. Then add twigs, sticks, etc., slowly until you have the fire you need for light, cooking and warmth.
I'm a cheap skate. I'm not going to use cotton balls, when my wife does laundry two to three times a week. She has strick instructions to save the dryer lint.

posted on Jul, 16 2009 @ 11:02 AM
lmao you people can't be serious. i guess having modern convenient has handicapped some people. a lot of people actually.

posted on Jul, 16 2009 @ 11:27 AM
Having gone to a crazy voyageur style private school up in Alberta, we did alot of outdoor camping in all of the seasons. One of the best fires we made was the parallel. Just making sure the logs were all pointed in the same direction, and had it running perpendicular o your sleeping quarters. This was especially good in the winter when placed 2-3 feet from where you are sleeping, the radiant heat keeps you very warm.

The waterproof bags are definitely a must. Having canoed the Churchill River and had canoes tip in rapids, I can say first hand that even with a life jacket on, the massive amount of floatation those provide will ensure you do not get sucked under.

posted on Jul, 16 2009 @ 11:54 AM
reply to post by Cariaddi

5 days? That’s a little goobafied, when I was a kid we would camp for weeks sometimes months even into winter. In kindergarten they started talking about teepees and such. I stated that I had lived in a teepee and was sent to the principle for lying. My father had to be contacted to confirm I was not lying.

I was a kid mind you, but I am pretty sure we survived off of marijuana which was sold or traded for necessities. We had a smoke house which was used for meat curing. Squirrel was the mainstay. We had goats and many chickens as well. There was always a garden and such. I guess if times got hard we could have eaten the dogs, but I never would have.

You could make it 5 days with only drink. Shoot man it would be one hell of a diet!

Some of my best memories come from this time. Making blackberry preserves with my mother, all the great times with my now deceased dad. The world seemed like a very magical place, and I saw god in everything. Ignorance was bliss!

[edit on 16-7-2009 by Donkey_Dean]

posted on Jul, 16 2009 @ 01:29 PM
This is a great post. Some of the most incredible memories I have are from hanging out in the woods for a few days. I plan on doing a little more camping this summer and some in the fall. In today's economy, it at least makes for an affordable vacation.

... and don't eat yellow snow.

posted on Jul, 16 2009 @ 01:58 PM
Wow! Your trip sounds like my wet dream

Very informative and interesting to read.

But where's the kitchen sink??

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