Base camp is a term used in the outdoor world to establish a semi-permanent home from which adventures begin. It is defined as a main encampment providing supplies, shelter and communications for personas engaged in wide-ranging activities, such as exploring, reconnaissance, hunting, hiking, mountain climbing and even in the film industry. Traditionally it is thought as a camp from which mountaineering expeditions set out, which is why if you, the reader, googled base camp and hiking the first few pages of information would pertain to Mt. Everest. It is essentially the home away from home and why this month I will be reviewing a few key points listed below on the importance of base camps.
- Location (the where to set up camp)
- Comfort and Convenience (the what to bring)
- Storage (the wildlife)
- Conditions (the weather)
- Cleanup (the leave no trace)
Location in the outdoors is just as important as location in our everyday lives you want it to be the best to accommodate your needs and keep you safe. If you are setting up a tent, then you will want to find the most level area available. This will prevent you from rolling downhill in the middle of the night. Make sure to be a bit higher on the terrain so that you are not in a river bed, flood plain, etc. in case the rains do set in and begin making your tent a new lake or pond. Find a spot that is free of roots, rocks or other items that might poke you in the middle of the night through the bottom of the tent. Finally beware of widow makers, these are those dead branches hanging above that can fall at any moment to the unsuspecting person(s) below. This is especially important for all those hammock campers since hammocks are set up underneath trees. Now if you are not using a tent or hammock and doing what is referred to as “cowboy camping” with a bedroll under the stars you should still follow the above mentioned.
Comfort and convenience should never be lost in the outdoors instead it should be embraced whether you are car camping or taking a survivalist approach with the bare minimums bring what makes you happy, within reason (insert smiley face). Typically, I like having a few of the basics, food (to include water and instant coffee), lighting, base layer of clothing, wet wipes and a good book to mention a few. Now I will not get into details on what I carry in my gear, that is for a future post, so you will have to stay tuned and keep reading our blogs to find out.
Storage in the wilderness is extremely important because all kind of animals (mice, rodents, raccoons, bears, etc.) will gnaw through your tent or backpack to get to the little hidden treats. It is the responsibility of the hiker/camper to keep food and other aromatic items like toiletries (basically anything with a scent) away from the animals to not disrupt their natural diet. If camping at a campground that provides bear boxes place everything with a scent in that large metal container to include your cooler. However, if you are in the back country or a location that doesn’t have a bear box then you can purchase bear bags or bear canisters or hang your gear high from a tree branch away from where you will be sleeping.
The weather in the outdoors especially the mountains is unpredictable. It can be 70 and sunny one minute and the next a torrential down pour of rain and hail so you should always be prepared for the worst. It is a good rule of thumb to check the current conditions before setting out on your adventure. Websites like NOAA (National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration) are a great resource to use but like I said before the weather can change at a moment’s notice so having a weather plan is good.
Cleanup, or what is known by most as leave no trace, is a set of outdoor ethics promoting conservation in the outdoors. It is all our responsibility enjoying the outdoors to leave no trace and nothing disturbs me more than seeing places trashed by the previous person(s) using it. Keep your camp and trails clean by packing out what you packed in. In fact, leave it better than you found it!