Preparing for a Quest to Conquer Kilimanjaro

Kilimanjaro 1

By Mary Lyons

Kilimanjaro is the highest peak on the continent of Africa and thousands of people summit Uhuru Peak at 19,300 feet every year. My dream to summit Kilimanjaro was born about ten years ago after I had been living overseas for a year. For the first time in my life, I actually had a disposable income to use for travel. For some reason, my dream to summit Kilimanjaro got put on the back burner for several years, perhaps because it is an expensive venture and I also wanted to include a safari and a trip to Zanzibar.

Kilimanjaro 13
Sign at our first camp – Every camp has a sign like this

About two years ago, I decided to bite the bullet, or break the bank I guess, and go to Tanzania to conquer Kilimanjaro. I booked the trip in May 2015, but my departure date was January 2016. The travel company I used in the UK had told me a year before when I contacted them, that I needed to book early because January is peak season for climbing because of the optimal weather.

After I booked the trip, the tour company sent me all the information I needed to prepare, but there were some things that were not clear to me, like who was going to carry what. I was used to carrying everything myself and their info made it sound like I would carry my own clothing, but that wasn’t the case. Other things were abundantly clear, like the bill! High altitude trekking does not come cheap, no matter what company you book with.

Kilimanjaro 5
Day 1 Starting our climb at 9000 feet – Everyone was thinking, -This is easy!-

Here are some tips that I hope will help you to prepare for any high-altitude trek should you decided to undertake such an adventure. I feel I should include a disclaimer here. I actually did not make it to Uhuru. Altitude sickness got the best of me, as did lack of sleep due to a snoring tent mate and headaches due to altitude. I did make it to Gilman’s Point, at 18,500 feet, and I’m proud of that, although it wasn’t my goal.

Getting Your Gear On

One of the things I needed to do in the States was buy clothing. I lived in Kuwait during the school year, and it’s impossible to find adequate gear there for such cold temperatures. Temperatures on Kilimanjaro are at zero (Celsius) or below once you get above 12,000 feet, and during the big push on the last day, it’s about -20C. I spend my year between two deserts where I can wear flip flops in winter. I was not prepared for -20C!

This is a list of what I took with me, based on recommendations from the travel company. I did the Rongai Route which was advertised as five days, but the 19km descent from 12,000 feet on the last day meant it was actually 6 days.

CLOTHING AND GEAR

Kilimanjaro 3
Me with Meru in the distance on Day 2

Four season Gortex coat with removable fleece inside from North Face (Gortex is NOT necessary! It’s just what I already had.)

Pullover fleece

Long-sleeve Climadry shirt for hiking during the day

Patagonia thermal underwear – 2 pairs, one for hiking on the last 2-3 days + one for camp and sleeping

Short sleeve Climadry shirt for hiking on the first day, starting altitude 9000 feet

Patagonia zip-off leg trekking pants

Marmot rain jacket and pants (you’ll need the pants to keep warm on the last day)

Fleece pants (for the last day where you have four layers on bottom, five on top, ski pants also work)

 

2 pair Smartwool socks (I wore both on the last day)

2 pair sock liners

2 pair Exofficio underwear

2 sportbras

 

Kilimanjaro 9
Mustafa and Jonas, both amazing guides – Mustafa got me to Gilman’s Point

1 wool scarf (only used it for the final climb, but actually took it off halfway up)

1 wool hat (in addition to the hood on my North Face coat)

1 pair thin gloves

1 pair insulated ski gloves (only used during the final climb)

Vasque hiking boots (again, Gortex is NOT necessary, do not spend the money on it)

 

Rented a sleeping bag from The African Walking Company for about 40 dollars

Therma-rest ¾ length ¾ inch thick mattress (most companies do not rent mattresses)

 

Kilimanjaro 10
Unique vegetation on Kili makes for great pictures

Headlamp

Rain cover for my day pack

Journal and pen

Nikon pocket digital camera (with extra battery – sleep with both to prevent batteries from dying, and carry close to your body during the day)

Two bandanas

Quick-dry pack towel

Facial wipes/toothbrush and toothpaste/sunscreen/night cream and eye cream (Hey, I’m a woman in her 40s! Gimme a break!)

Others in my group carried mosquito repellent. IMO, it is not necessary. The altitude is too high, you’re fully clothed all the time, and malaria is not a concern in Tanzania.

Kilimanjaro 19
Kilimanjaro in the distance – I believe this was taken on Day 3 of our climb

2L water bladder with insulated tube to go inside my daypack – In my opinion, there is a significant advantage to carrying a bladder as opposed to water bottles. There were 8 people in my group, and everyone except me carried bottles. Every time they wanted water, they had to take their packs off. I didn’t. During the climb on the last day, their water froze in the bottles. Mine didn’t because it was in my pack next to my body, even though I had five layers between me and the bladder.

 

Weighing In

It sounds like a lot of weight, but your porter will carry everything except your day pack which contains your rain coat and pants, camera and batteries, gloves, hat, scarf if you want, sunscreen, snacks, water, and I carried my journal and a small book.

Kilimanjaro 4
The porters passed us every day carrying 27kg each – Here they come!

You will most likely be limited to 15 kg total, not including your day pack contents. I left clothes and anything I didn’t need at the hotel. The hotel where you stay the night before your climb is the same hotel you will return to after you finish.

 

Kilimanjaro – The Air Sure Is Thin Up Here!

Preparing for altitude sickness is foremost on everyone’s mind before they climb Kilimanjaro, but there is no way to predict how your body will react. That said, I do think there are some things you can do to prepare. There was an expert climber in my group who was preparing to climb Mt Everest. I talked to him a lot about altitude. He was also a spinal surgeon from New York. You never know who you’ll meet in Africa. He was also married 🙁

Kilimanjaro 16
Kibo Hut at Day 4 Camp

One way to prepare yourself for high altitudes is to expose yourself to them. If you have access to an area with peaks above 12,000 feet, climb them and see how your body reacts. If camping is available at those high elevations, spend the night. I had the worst headaches at night.

Mustafa and Me at Gilman’s Point

To prevent and combat the effects of altitude, drink at least 3 – 5 liters of water a day. Ibuprofen was my friend and when my headaches were persistent, I took 2 every 4-6 hours. Drink when you’re not thirsty and eat when you’re not hungry.

I lost my appetite completely on Day 4, before our midnight ascent on Day 5. I ate some soup at our early dinner, and went to sleep at 6PM, but by midnight, I was running on empty and couldn’t get anything to go down. If I were to attempt it again, I would ask for plain white rice and maybe take saltine crackers with me to eat before ascending at midnight.

Kilimanjaro 6
The descent from Gilman’s Point at 18000 feet, looking down at camp at 15000 feet

There’s a medicine called Diamox that is supposed to help with altitude sickness. Make sure you investigate this option thoroughly before deciding whether or not to use it. There’s a reason a prescription is required to take it. It can also have the same side effects as altitude sickness, which is ultimately the reason I decided not to use it.

Most companies offer the option of using oxygen for the final ascent only, for an extra cost.

 

Let’s Make This Happen!

Kilimanjaro 16
We saw several of these on our last day after we got back down to 10000 feet
Kilimanjaro 20
Jonas was our contemplative guide with a smile like the sun

Peak season for climbing Kilimanjaro is January to March and June to October. January to March means you have a better chance of seeing snow, although you likely won’t see snow until your final ascent. The glacier atop Kilimanjaro is shrinking at an alarming rate. There’s also less chance of rain during these months I have mentioned.

Peak season means it can get crowded on some of the routes, although I didn’t think the Rongai 5-day route was crowded in January. It was busy, but not crowded.

Booking several months in advance is critical if you’re going during either of these peak seasons. If you are planning to hike the Coca-Cola route (Marangu Route) it is especially important to book many months in advance. This is the most popular route, partially because sleeping huts with dormitory style accommodation are used for accommodation along the way. People who prefer not to camp (and not use a camp toilet!) choose this option, but they book up many months in advance.

Kilimanjaro 21
Hans was voted most photogenic out of all the guides. You can see why.

Choosing a tour company can be daunting and some people feel it isn’t necessary. I have met people who just went to Tanzania and hired a guide and porter, and started trekking. It can be done and can cost a lot less than booking through a tour company. However, you won’t know what you’re going to get, or how qualified and experienced those guides and porters are. I wasn’t comfortable doing that, especially when I had never hiked at such altitudes before.

Kilimanjaro 15
Day 4 trek – Looks easy, right- Clean, flat. Ha! We were near 15000 feet and moving at a snail’s pace

Do thorough research on tour companies before deciding. Prices and departure dates can vary, although not as much as you might think. Tour companies outside of Tanzania are well-connected to companies within Tanzania. You pay the tour company, say in the UK, and they pay the local company who in turn, pays their guides and porters.

The cost of a Kilimanjaro climb will vary, but to give you some idea of costs, they could run from between $200 – $500 a day for a climb depending on season, route, number of people in your group, and the tour company you choose. Mine was expensive, but the quality and level of service cannot be beat.

Kilimanjaro 14
This is both a starting and ending point, depending on which route you take. It was our end.

 

It’s Not Glamping, But It’s Pretty Darn Close!

Accommodation on Kilimanjaro can vary widely, depending on the route and tour company you use. But overall, unless you book the Coca-Cola route, you’re going to be sleeping in a two-man tent with a tent mate. Most tour operators will try to discourage one person in a tent because porters are limited to carrying 27kg. They carry these tents from camp to camp, so when someone books a private tent, they actually put a burden on the porters.

Kilimanjaro 11
Our tents were the orange ones, spacious and functional

The tents are spacious, and the porters will carry your air mattress and sleeping bag. When you arrive at camp, your tent, mattress, and sleeping bag will be all set up for you and any personal belongings they carry will be inside the tent. Now that’s service! The African Walking Company also provided a toilet tent so that we didn’t have to use the gross park toilets. This was much appreciated!

Kilimanjaro 18
Me with our Chief Guide, Florence, who was so charasmatic and born to do this job

Tour operators also provide a dining tent. The meals are amazing. Three hot three-course meals a day are standard with most tour companies. They want you to eat as much as you can because it helps ensure your success in reaching the peak. We were also served tea and coffee in our tent in the morning, but I have some tent rules I follow that I also made my friend follow. They are:

1) no shoes inside the tent

2) no trekking poles inside the tent

3) no uncovered liquids in the tent!

We kept our tea and coffee outside the tent for the most part, but I eventually declined it altogether.

Kilimanjaro 17
Meru Peak was visible for much of our trek up Kilimanjaro and was just as photogenic

Tipping the People that Helped You Get There

One of the things I liked most about this adventure was that we were given an actual guide to tipping the guides and porters. There are different levels of porters and guides, as well as the cook and chief guide. The tipping scale gave us a range of how much to tip and luckily, we had a mathematician in our group who could figure out how much we should all put in the pot. These 33 guides and porters were so amazing, we gave them the maximum amount.

Kilimanjaro 2
All 33 guides and porters as well as my group of 8 at the tipping ceremony on the last night

I want to include a word about over-tipping. Over-tipping is not beneficial to those who receive it or to climbers who come after you. It instills unrealistic expectations in the guides and porters, and disappointment when the group after you doesn’t over-tip. Please stick to the guidelines supplied by the tour company.

Now You Know

A good tour company will provide you with all the information you need before making a decision about whether or not to book a tour and climb Kilimanjaro. It’s a serious endeavor that takes planning and preparation. Hopefully my two cents worth can help you do just that. I’d love to hear from you! Leave comments and questions below and I’ll be sure to answer them!

Kilimanjaro 12
View of Meru Peak from our camp on Day 3

 

The Liebster Award

Liebster Award

By Nicole Anderson

Camping for Women was just given the Liebster Award.

So what is the Liebster Award?

For anyone who doesn’t know what the Liebster Award actually is, it is a virtual award that is passed on from blogger to blogger as a show of support, and it also helps to promote any fellow bloggers that many enjoy reading.

The rules that apply when you are nominated for, and accept the Liebster Award are:

Liebster Award 1

So to start, we want to recognize and thank the person who nominated us:

 

Nominator:

For this award, Camping for Women was nominated by Lea of the blog Lou and Lea.

Lou and Lea

Lou and Lea is a Design and Photography blog for everyone who wants to step up their creativity game. On her blog, Lea shares her tips and tricks for creating graphics, art, and photo taking and editing. She gives advice on where to find Inspiration and how to live a creative life. With tutorials, how to’s and advice, Lou and Lea encourages to draw, Sketch and look for a beautiful potential Photograph everywhere in everyday life. Her goal is to inspire her readers to create a more beautiful life for themselves, simply through perceiving the world as an artistic place.

 

Answers by Nicole to 11 Questions from Lea:

Question 1: Summer or Winter?

For the most part, I prefer summer when I can go swimming, boating and fishing.  I would rather often feel too hot than too cold.

Question 2: Who is your favourite superhero?

At the moment I would have to say Wonder Women which is quite topical right now.  Amazon Women Rock!

Question 3: Which book could you read over and over again?

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Question 4: Do you have any weird habits?

Sometimes, when thinking to myself in a waiting room, I can/have laughed out loud when I remember or associate with something really funny.  This has caused people to look at me wondering what’s going on.

Question 5: Are you a money spender or a money saver?

I like to be good at balancing both.  Not forgetting to live life now but planning for tomorrow.

Question 6: What was your funniest moment in life?

My friend and I accidently got left behind as the boat left the Arizona Memorial in the middle of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.  That took a bit of explaining afterward.

Question 7: What are you the proudest of in your life?

That I was asked to give an address to Breast Cancer Survivors at the International World Championship Dragonboat Regatta, where I was also the youngest flag bearer for my country.

Question 8: Which famous person would you like to be?

Angelina Jolie.  I think she is pretty amazing.  She does great humanitarian work, while looking after her kids and in movies she even does her own stunts.

Question 9: If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Antarctica – this region has always fascinated me – but I would take plenty of warm clothes!

Question 10: Which fictional character do you relate to the most?

Lara Croft, Tomb Raider!

Question 11: Are you a morning person or a night owl?

At the moment, more of a morning person.  I like to get an early start on the day.

 

And now those are answered, I should move onto the random facts part:

 

11 Random Facts about Nicole:

  1. Nicole’s nickname is ‘Nic’.

    Nicole Anderson
  2. She likes classical music when she is outdoors enjoying nature.
  3. One of her favourite movies is ‘Under a Tuscan Sun’.
  4. Before this decade is over, she wants to visit Antarctica.
  5. She enjoys blogging because it connects her with like-minded people around the globe.
  6. Despite her best efforts, weeds still manage to thrive in her garden.
  7. Nicole just can’t whistle.
  8. Most weekends she likes to take off and spend time in the Hinterland near her home.
  9. She likes to sketch with pencils.
  10. She loves chocolate and is waiting for the day when it is really good for you and you can enjoy without limits!
  11. Nicole loves dogs.

Nominees:

And now to the exciting part to introduce the 11 blogs that have been nominated in turn to receive the Liebster Award.  Below they are presented in alphabetical order.

Aicsthetic

Aicsthetic follows the journey of a 20-something creative from Manila who is an artist of three kinds. First, she snaps her travels through her eye-popping, turquoise aesthetic. Then, she bears both convictions to her readers with emotional anecdotes of the past and realizations of the present. And lastly, she manifests her bizarre imagination with a brush, a pencil, or a pen. All her thoughts are viewed through her pink-turquoise tinted glasses.

 

 

Altea Leszczynska

Altea Leszczynska is a professional artist (a painter and a photographer) and her blog is a cultural-lifestyle one. She writes about art, culture, fashion, yoga, veganism, beauty, wellness, and also shares with her readers her controversial opinions spiced with her montypythonesque sense of humour. Altea always illustrate her posts with photography directed by her. She writes in Polish and in English.

 

Bebe Shamo

Shamira Solana, creator of Bebe Shamo, a Travel and Fashion blogger from the Philippines and Ireland. She travels and dresses on a budget, share pictures and stories from her adventures. She’s also a YouTuber, aspiring actress and a dancer. She’s working full-time as Healthcare Assistant in the hospital and she started blogging after breaking up with her ex-boyfriend to stay productive and thinking positively to build her self-confidence. Now she’s more motivated than ever.

 

 

Clever Little Mouse

Clever Little Mouse was born out of a New Year’s resolution that blogger Pam Long made seven years ago: to do something creative every day. She’s been sewing and crafting since she was a little girl, but she never anticipated how much her skills and passions would blossom just from that one simple resolution. Her sewing room truly is her happy place, and her goal is to inspire others to take a chance, learn something new and let their creativity shine.

 

Eclectic Twist

Eclectic Twist is a fun and funky place for home decor and DIY inspiration and tips.  Here Tina Bousu shares everything from how to best shop at a flea market to tips for decorating a kids bedroom to redesigning and going through a kitchen reno to installing faux wood beams!  She also throws a curve ball in there every once in a while and shares posts about personal empowerment and building your confidence and “rock it” attitude! There’s something for everyone, it’s colorful, eclectic and fun! Tina really enjoys sharing with all of you and hopes you will give her blog a visit!

 

 

Lady Twiiti

Stubborn. Original. Optimistic. Vibrant. Chic.  This blog is about Twiiti.  She’s a 21 years old Namibian Blogger who’s passionate about writing, Words are her strength and she express mostly what she feels through writing. There’s no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.  The Lady Twiiti blog is absolutely concerned with recording her inner thoughts, the things she wants to express to people and maybe even inspire your own thinking.  In her words…Please allow my fingers to play with the keyboard just a little… or just a bit more.

 

Maryanne Theodore

Maryanne Theodore is a personal and lifestyle blog about my personal stories and life experiences, lifestyle tips and treats, inspirational topics and because of my love to literary works, the blog happen to feature poems and fiction from other writers too. This blog is one which you can learn a lot from because the topics cut across many genres of life. Maryanne hopes you will have a wonderful time when you visit it.

 

Navigating Adulthood

Navigating Adulthood is a community for twenty-somethings, millennials and recent college graduates to help make the journey to being a bonafide adult easier. Think of this blog as a free online “adulting school” where you can learn the life skills they never taught you in school. Blogger Ying’s goal is to help readers become a more successful adults by providing tips, tutorials, advice, and inspiration. She talks about topics ranging from how to find a job to personal finance tips.

 

Shazia Chiu

Shaziachiu.com is run by Shazia Chiu, a realtor and freelance writer from Salt Lake City, Utah. She previously ran a travel blog called Gap Year for Two, which documented her year-long trip around the world. On her current blog, Shazia covers a range of topics including real estate, writing, travel and personal finance. Her blog also serves as a personal journal of her travels and day-to-day life.  Visitors can connect with Shazia by visiting her website or by finding her on Instagram (@shzchiu).

 

The Artful Appetite

The Artful Appetite is a food blog that features beautiful vegetarian and vegan recipes. Most of the recipes blogger Kate Minor posts she would consider to be pretty healthy. At one point in her life Kate was interested in becoming a dietician. Her creativity and artistic nature led her in another direction, but she is still interested in nutrition and healthy living! In addition to the recipe posts, she sometimes includes posts about her favorite restaurants and cookbooks, her travels, and her art. This blog represents a marriage of two of Kate’s great loves in life: photography and food. Being able to share delicious recipes in such a visually beautiful way is very satisfying for her.

 

The Modern Nest

The Modern Nest is a blog dedicated to today’s family home life. Its focus is on keeping it real…solving problems that today’s moms face without unrealistic expectations and always with a light-hearted attitude. In this internet nook you’ll find them talking about everything from the fun (DIY and decor), to the necessary (modern homemaking, organization), and the chaotic (parenting). So grab a cup of coffee (or wine) and go join them!

 

 

 

So congratulations to all those bloggers who have created such lovely blogs.  And in keeping with the rules, I have prepared 11 questions for your to answer as you start thinking about the blogs you would like to nominate for the Liebster Award.

 

Questions for the Nominees:

  1. What inspired you to start your blog?
  2. What do you like to do in the great outdoors?
  3. What would be your most memorable experience outdoors?
  4. What famous person (past or present) would you like to have dinner with?
  5. What is your favourite past-time or hobby?
  6. Where would you most like to visit in the world?
  7. What is your most favourite childhood memory?
  8. Is there a particular skill you would really like to have?
  9. How are you the most creative in what you do?
  10. What’s really great about where you live?
  11. What do you see eventually happening for your blog?

 

Thank you to everyone for reading.  Do check out all these great blogs.  Thank you again to our nominator Lea of Lou and Lea.  Thank you to our lovely nominees for creating such great blogs.

And the final thank you…well that is reserved for Camping for Women’s subscribers, readers and contributors.  Without your wonderful support, there would be no blog!

Best wishes everyone.

 

How To Start Backpacking and Be Fearless in the Wilderness

backpacking 1

 By Lucy Gomez

Imagine leaping into a fresh-water stream, feeling the icy shock as you plunge in and the buzz as you warm back up again… the most energizing feeling in the world! Stepping into the wild opens the opportunity to discover the world’s stunning beauty, and maybe even encounter rare wildlife too! On top of that, it’s proven to boost your body and mind. So what are you waiting for?

OK, so maybe that all sounds terrifying. Don’t worry though, it did to me once too, you’re not alone!

That’s exactly why I’ve gathered all the useful tips that we here at getcampingwild.com have learned so far about how to start backpacking. So, before you know it, your inner intrepid-explorer will be unleashed!

backpacking 2You’ll need:

  • A Trail Map
  • A Compass

Before grabbing your backpack, pick up the map instead. The easiest way to work out what you’ll need is to know where you’re going.

My best advice for getting started is to stay local, because discovering how easily you can access the wild wonders on your doorstep instantly gives you a native feel for how to start backpacking! If you still need some more inspiration, check out our post on The Most Famous Seasonal Campgrounds and see if you can spot one near you.

We’ve been asked a lot of questions about how to start backpacking over the years, like….

 

Backpacking – will it be hot or cold?

In the wild, this decision is totally up to Mother Nature, and she’s famously unpredictable. But you can get one up on her, and here’s how…

  1. Check your weather forecastbackpacking 3

We bet you’re super familiar with the seasons in your region, but keeping an eye on the forecast means you’ll be aware of any freak storms threatening your trip!

  1. Use your map to estimate your altitude

The temperature drops 3.5°F for every 1000 ft you climb, and mountainous areas are known to have a climate of their own, too. When a warm sunny day becomes a hailstorm in minutes – don’t get caught without a raincoat, it’s not fun!

 

So, What should I wear?

When you are a five-hour trek into the wilderness, there is no hiding from the elements. If it’s cold, you need to stay warm in it, and if it’s boiling you need to be able to cool down. The solution? It’s all in what your wear…

  • backpacking 4Base layers – long johns and thermal vests are designed to keep your body heat in and the cold out. They’re cheap and easy to find in the underwear section of your closest shopping mall
  • Sports shirts – made from lightweight, breathable and fast drying fabric, you can get a bargain in discount sports stores
  • Long pants – either jogging or light trekking ones to protect your legs from stings, scratches and bites.
  • Small sweater – one of your ‘layers’ for intricate temperature control
  • Fleece – as warm and cosy as four small sweaters!
  • Raincoat – make sure it’s a strong, lightweight and breathable one
  • Plastic poncho – yep, just like those ones you get at waterparks and festivals, they’re unbeatable in sudden downpours!
  • Hiking shoes – you’ll need fairly firm ones to tackle the undergrowth, but don’t get the heaviest, as they’ll slow you down
  • Socks – specialised walking socks are vital for your first backpacking trip because they’re made from a silky fabric, so they keep your feet both dry and blister-free
  • cotton undies/sports bra – your most comfy pairs!
  • Swimsuit – ready for that freshwater dip!
  • Hat – be sure to protect your head in sun or snow!

How can you actually carry your whole life on your back though?

backpacking 5None of us are secretly snails. The trick is to simply bring all that you need and ABSOLUTELY nothing more. No really, or you’ll regret it – this is one of the biggest and hardest decisions for how to start backpacking! Especially when experts recommend carrying 30% of your body weight with you. For me, 30% of my body weight is 42 lbs, which is 19kg or litres, and I know I’ll be whining if I walk for five hours carrying that much! So I usually aim for just 15%.

Top tip – weigh your bag after you pack, then weigh it again when you’ve repacked!

Another mistake beginners make is shouldering all their weight. If you do that, we bet you’ll never want to go backpacking again! For a happy and healthy hike, make sure your backpack has a waist strap to carry the load, and an adjustable back to fit you.

Top tip – borrow from a friend for your first trip to keep costs down!

What do you eat and drink?

Bear Grylls might be happy to tuck into meals of bugs and berries, but we reckon you’ll be craving something a little less squirmy! After all, you’ll be burning plenty of calories, so make sure you get three square meals a day, plus a few snacks to sweeten your rest stops!

Here’s our team’s top trail menu, and all you need is a mini campstove, a metal cup with a lid, and a spork…

backpacking 6Breakfast: Instant oatmeal (add honey and raisins for extra goodness!) and a sachet of instant coffee

Morning snack: packet of mixed fruits and nuts or cereal bar

Lunch: Saltines, spread with Nutella or peanut butter, plus your favorite chips and a piece of fruit (apples and oranges have good backpack survival rates)

Afternoon treat: your favorite sweets, whether it’s gummy bears or fizzy worms, they’ll give you the boost you need (marathon runners do it!)

Dinner: Freeze dried packet meals are available in camping shops and just require a little heating, but a packet of instant noodles or pasta will also replace those much-needed carbs!

Top tip: Whatever you decide to bring on your first how to start backpacking trip, and every trip after that, make sure it’s sealed, lightweight, packed full of nutrients and doesn’t need refrigeration. Check out our post 7 Easy Foods For Camping’ for more ideas!

What about water?

backpacking 7Well, it’s a fact that you’ll need to drink much more than you can carry on day one, and another reason why your map is so important. When planning your route, trek via water sources like fresh springs or streams, then purify the water before you drink it.

Top tip: Boiling water for at least a minute kills the bacteria and saves you carrying a fancy filtration kit!

 

How does the sleeping part work?

There aren’t likely to be organised campsites in the wilderness, so you get to decide which patch of nature to call home for the night!

Step 1.    Choose a spot

It is generally advised to sleep near the trail, but not on it – about 100 yards away should be fine. Make sure you don’t block a water access point!

backpacking 8Step 2.    Check the terrain

There’s nothing worse than bedding down on spiky rocks, so choose somewhere peaty or leafy

Step 3.    Pitch your tent

Be sure to check you have all the parts before you leave home!

Step 4.    Get out your sleeping gear

Don’t leave home without a sleeping pad (I use my yoga mat). I’ll let you into a ‘how to start backpacking’ secret; although this is the most important insulating layer between you and the cold ground, some experienced campers don’t realise it!

You should also take a small pillow and sleeping bag to cosy up in. They come in sizes for each season – but the warmer the bag, the heavier it is. When choosing, estimate your nighttime temperature and match it to the range of the sleeping bag. Sleep tight!

Need to know

Now that you’re bursting full of top tips about how to start backpacking, there are a few more things to bear in mind (get it?!)

Did you know that you should:

  • Always give way to people going uphill
  • Never light a fire unless it’s allowed in your area
  • Bury your poop with a spade
  • Know the phone number for mountain rescue
  • Let others know your planned route
  • Pick up any rubbish you see, to save the landscape for future visitors, and for the creatures who call it home

For your first ever backpacking trip, we recommend going with a friend or a guide who knows their fauna from their flora. But if you go it alone and you get lost – don’t panic. Retrace your steps to the last place you recognise.

It’s also really important to make sure you’re in good shape before the trip – going running, swimming or working out in the gym is great for you anyway, but it can also be the difference between a good trip or an incredible trip!

And finally, you’ll be glowing with the accomplishment of having earned every single one of those fantastic views! So, take these steps towards how to start backpacking, and get out there to begin your own fantastic original adventure!

backpacking 9

 

Tips to Prepare for Fishing from a Boat

By Jameesa Alvin

Preparation

Preparation begins well before your hit in the water and involves everything from normal boat repair to servicing rods and checking all your terminal tools. Essentially, you should undergo a complete check of everything; test your engine, check the battery and electronics are working, and rods are performing well among other things.

How regularly do you see someone at the edge of the water with engine failure or your friend, who realizes that his/her rod has gone just as he/she tried to catch a fish? These are little facts that occur far more regularly than some of us would like to admit.

All in all, everything must be in place and ready before heading out. Bad planning and preparation can destroy a fishing trip. Do it well prior and you will not waste precious time preparing when you should be catching fish.

Focus on detail

Better fishers always do it right. At the end of the day, you only have yourself to take the responsibility. It is good to inspect all your tools before going in the water thoroughly.

When it comes to everything being in working order, some think it is best to often change rods. I should say that this is might be good depending on how much wear and tear you have. Braid, can last more than a year, but should still be checked regularly.

Check the leaders by running your fingers over them as well as physically checking them for wear or nicks. Then, test all joints and lastly have a swift look at the hooks. Do not be afraid to test your joints, flexibility on them to make sure they are completely sure. If I have any doubts about any part, change it.

Have your target

Fishing truly has shifted over the years, and as fishers get more and more skilled, their procedure has developed into more of an expertise. If you are beginner you can take essential fishing tips from many guidelines. Nowadays, if you want to fish, you have to select a certain focus species and set yourself up well.

Even temporal fishers head out looking for certain species, spinning for bream in a branch offshore. Paying attention to all your resources and efforts on one type, then utilizing the shotgun way and hoping for anything that occurs to be around, will make you more efficient.

Schedule your attack

Once you understand which overall areas have been giving fish; the next step is to get more specific about your game plan for the day. This truly is key to being a better fisherman/lady. It does not matter how good you are; there are daily changes that require taking account of, like tides and weather. Tidal data is important and shows the motion of water. It is always good to fish within the tide shift. Hence, if there is an early morning tide shift, it is well worth waking up early to catch it.

Spinning Rod and Reel

If you have not bought your spinning reel, you should first assess what kind of reel will go well with your needs. There are good websites and bass pro shops and cables to get you started. You should also visit Cabela’s, bass pro shops, or Gander Mountain and discuss with their fishing department to get an idea of which rods might be good for you.

Final Thought

With the best preparation, you will have the best fishing activity and hence success since preparation ensures that you are in a good mood to carry out fishing.

Overall focus on the tools you be using in the water and the prevailing weather of the water mass you will be doing your fishing.

Lastly, have the right confidence and mood to facilitate the same. Above all, you are going to be the best fisherman/lady ever – and above all, have a great time!

 

Grill Tips for the Gourmet Gal in You

Grill Tips 1

By Gail Kearns

Summer is here. It’s grilling season! Fearless women everywhere are dusting off their barbecues and getting their grill on. We all know that cooking food over an open fire is one of life’s greatest joys. And, yes, another is eating the perfectly grilled steak, a rack of ribs, or a piece salmon once it’s done to perfection.

And grilling isn’t just men’s territory either. More and more women are getting out the charcoal, entering grill contests, chili cook-offs, and judging outdoor cooking competitions. Check out the recently launched bushcooking.com, and you’ll see plenty of mouthwatering recipes.

Indeed, sometimes the simplest pleasures are the greatest enjoyments. So, to get your grill season started right, here are a few tips about the basics and some techniques to master, whether you’re a beginner or a veteran, using either a gas or charcoal grill.

  • Get yourself a chimney starter. Forget the lighter fluid or even the match-light coals. The chimney starter works like a charm. No more gas-flavored hamburgers.

Grill Tips 2

  • Let those coals get gray before putting your food on the grill. It may take some patience if you’ve got a crowd of hungry people to feed, but if you start cooking before your coals are ready you may not get the results you desire. If you’re using a gas grill make sure you preheat the grates sufficiently (10 minutes or so) before cooking, otherwise your food will stick to the metal. Not good!
  • Don’t forget to clean your grill grates. Burnt-on layers of food also contribute to the sticky factor when preparing food on the grill. But don’t bother cleaning it when you’ve got hungry mouths to feed or at the end of the evening when the grill has already cooled down. If you use your grill regularly, clean it up the next time you fire it up!

Grill Tips 3

  • Try cooking with indirect heat. This means setting up the coals on one side of the grill and leaving the other side empty. If using a gas grill, light the burners on one side and leave the other side off or on very low heat. You’ll have much more control over cooking when you can move your food items from one side to the other. Sear meat and veggies on the hot side then move them to other side for gentler cooking. This is especially useful during flare-ups! For easier clean up, you can also place a drip pan in the center of the banked coals.
  • Use a grill basket for fish and small foods that could easily slip through the barbecue grates. For veggies use perforated pans.

Grill Tips 4

  • Don’t keep opening the lid! This again is where patience comes in handy. “Is it done yet!” is not a good mantra. If you’re cooking on a gas grill, opening the lid will make it cooler. If you’re cooking on a charcoal grill, opening the lid will make it hotter. Some outdoor chefs like to flip their burgers and meat several times to get those lovely looking charred grill marks. That’s okay as long as you know that opening and closing the lid is adding inconsistencies to your cooking temp.
  • Use those vents on your grill to control heat. It’s all about adjusting the flow of oxygen, which in turn adjusts the heat inside your grill. The venting system is crucial to how long the coals will last and the amount of heat it provides.
  • Add barbecue sauce toward the end of cooking your chicken or ribs, or any other fare for that matter. You’ll get just as much flavor without the risk of burning your food to a crisp or giving it a bitterness that will turn up the noses of your foodie girlfriends.

Grill Tips 5

  • A good tip for spareribs: Don’t forget to remove the membrane from the bone side of the slab. If left on, it can shrink and cause uneven cooking.
  • When caramelizing onions for your burgers, place a cast iron pan directly on the barbecue grate over considerable heat. Stir onions frequently for 30 to 45 minutes until a deep golden color. You’ll need a lot of onions because they shrink down a lot, but it’s so worth it!

Grill Tips 6

  • Use a thermometer to tell when the meat is done. Sounds simple, but too many people cut open a piece of chicken or meat to see if it’s done or they poke it with their fingers to test it.
  • Let meat rest off the grill for a few minutes before serving. If you want serve it really sizzling, you can put it back on the grill for 30 seconds each side. Ta-da!

Here’s to your success in becoming an authentic grillmeister in the great outdoors!

7 Quick Camping Drinks To Make For Your Daring Companions

Camping Drinks

By Rita Myers

Even if you’re going to give me all the luxuries in the world, nothing beats the great outdoors. After a long hectic week, I always try my best to bring my two sons and husband for a camping trip.

Sometimes they show up, often they’re unavailable. But I make sure to treasure my moments with them and make it as memorable as I can with camping drinks.

As fellow outdoorsmen – and women – I want you to experience the time of your life with your friends and family through drink-induced conversations.

A Simple Wrap Up!

Drink #1. Beer

Drink #2. Old Fashioned Pioneer

Drink #3. Sex On The Beach

Drink #4. The Fisherman’s Friend

Drink #5. The Backwards Forest Crawler

Drink #6. All American Mule

Drink #7. Wine

 

Our 7 Camping Drinks:

Drink #1. Beer

Camping Drinks 1

No matter where you are, beer is always an obvious choice to start with camping drinks. Although it “hits the spot” when camping, it’s not the most transportable to bring.

As a camper, keeping it light is one of the golden rules. Beer, however, isn’t light. It’s going to add a few pounds in your backpack. Of course, you’re not only bringing one on the trip (that would be lame).

Pro Tip: Bring beer cans over bottles. They’re lighter to bring along, greatly reducing the weight of your package. At the same time, you can crush them right after drinking.

If you think it’s still a hassle, you can always go for a powdered beer! Although it isn’t yet “conventional” it’s ideal for backpackers. You may refer to it as “freeze dried beer.”

Don’t even think of bringing a cooler and ice, it’s not going to help you on your travels. Ideally, you should be able to sit back and enjoy the surroundings in a stream.

Usually, after my husband and my sons have emptied our cans of beer we utilize the empty cans to make a smartly-made camp stove.  Take a look at this video to give you an idea:

 

Drink #2. Old Fashioned Pioneer

Camping Drinks 2

You can spice things up by kicking it old school. People may call it as a “copy” of the standard bar stable. When it gets down to it, Canada is the place to be when it comes to Maple leaves.

It’s not too far of a stretch to connect breakfast and campfires with maple leaves. My husband really likes the idea of joining the two together.

If you happen to be going on an adventure in a campsite which has maple syrup, then this is something you should try. I honestly think everyone should make their own Old Fashioned Pioneer at least once in their life.

It doesn’t take a lot of preparation, you can do it by mixing few shots of bourbon whiskey. After which, add in some syrup and grab some club soda – you’re good to go!

 

Drink #3. Sex On The Beach

Camping Drinks 3

At least that’s how city folks know it for. But for awesome campers like us, it’s called as Sex on the Bank. The name is pretty self-explanatory.

Sex on the Beach is a timeless drink which is often found in bars. In addition, it’s available in nighttime drives worldwide. However, we don’t have much access to a bartender, unlike our city friends.  Unless bars have their bartenders “For Rent” but that doesn’t seem to be the case.  We always make our own drink by bringing our nifty camp cooler.

Here’s what we usually do, just get a bit of vodka, orange juice, and cranberry juice to get things heated.

Hey, if you don’t mind bringing along red wine, it doesn’t hurt to mix it up. If anything, it only gets this more interesting. My eldest son loves to bring wine along with our trips. You should try it as well!

 

Drink #4. The Fisherman’s Friend

Camping Drinks 4

After a long day of scouting around the woods, my family and I tend to get groggy-eyed first thing in the morning.

This is especially when we’ve trekked for quite some time, I always wake up my three of my boys (including my husband since he still acts like a child most of the time) by making Irish Coffee!

If there’s anything that forces them to get up and get ready for the day, the instant jolt of the “magical recipe” does the trick.

Put up some refreshing smiles on the faces of your friends and family by grabbing yourself bourbon and caffeine, combine those two and you have an awesome recipe to set you out for a jam-packed day in the woods!

Seriously, it works perfectly. If this added to our camping drinks worked for my three stubborn boys, it’ll work for anybody!

Drink #5. The Backwards Forest Crawler

Camping Drinks 5

You have to admit it, the name’s pretty cool among camping drinks. But I think the previous name was cooler. Before it was changed, the drink was known as “Death in the Afternoon.”

The legendary drink was created by none other than Ernest Hemingway himself. It’s a deadly drink that really knocks the light out of you.

During my youth, I had some unfavorable experiences with this one when drinking in the woods. I was with a couple of friends, and I was light-headed before I could realize why.

I wouldn’t want to give it your family – especially to your kids. Instead, I encourage you to try out the altered and safer version of the deadly drink.

Backwards Forest Crawler is a safer version of Death in the Afternoon. To make the altered version, you can mix absente with champagne.

The old one carries a heavy punch, maybe too heavy. It calls for absinthe, which I would never recommend.

It’s not being sold in most places as it is considered illegal due to its dangerous components. Stick with the generic, and you’ll do swell.

Don’t even think about trying out the original formula. Do me a favor and save yourself!

 

Drink #6. All American Mule

Camping Drinks 6

If you’re the type of person who’s a fan of mixed drink connoisseur, then it’s most likely that you might have heard of what the Moscow Mule is.

Just in case you haven’t, it’s the result of combining in vodka, spicy ginger beer, and lime juice. This is often being served with the use of a copper mug as it’s being referred to as “Vodka Buck.”

It was a couple of years back when I heard about Moscow Mule, my friends had invited me over for a drink. I was surprised to hear about its newer version as it’s intended for camping.

Surprisingly, it doesn’t ask you to fill up your backpack storage with mixtures and bottles. You just have to simply get a can of beer and pour in vodka. As camping drinks go, it doesn’t get too much simpler!

Most of the time, even if we planned on drinking beer, someone would always bring Vodka around. If my eldest liked wine, the youngest has a habit of adding in Vodka for an All American Mule.

Since I knew this was the routine, adding in a bit of ginger ale doesn’t hurt. It makes everything better. And for the last part, just pour a lemonade packet to your newly made mixture – then you’re done!

Preparation time only takes a few minutes. If you want to whip up something special for your daring companions other than “just” beer, you should give this a go.

Drink #7. Wine

Camping Drinks 7

If there’s anything we can agree on, it’s that wine is the best drink for camping when you don’t want to hit your head too hard. Don’t worry, I’m not encouraging you to bring in bottles of wine.

Initially, I thought that was the case as well. That was back in the year 2012 when my eldest son asked me if we could bring wine along on our trip.

Now, I thought he was crazy! Bringing in wine for the trip could mean broken bottles and potential injuries. However, he surprised me with wine in a pouch. WOW!

If your camping buddies haven’t heard about it yet, you can shock them in your journey. It really makes a great birthday gift surprise when you’re already out in the open woods.

You can go and search for a variety of boxed wine. Ideally, you can just get rid of the box (it’s just going to be a hassle) and only bring in the bag of wine.

In addition, if you want to kick it cooler, you can always go for canned wines. They’re ideal to bring along in any situations – a day hike or a week-long trek.

 

Let’s Grab a Drink!

There’s no rocket science on how to be happy. Sometimes going out on an adventure with your loved ones is all that you need. And maybe a couple of drinks, too.

I’ve already tried most of these camping drinks with my boys, and our goal is to try on new drinks every time we go camping.

I hope you enjoyed the article! Don’t forget to leave a comment down below if you have any questions or would like to let us know of any of your camping drinks. Share this with your friends and family to inform them of your next big exploration!

Camping Drinks 8

 

100 Years of the Motorhome

100 Years 1

By Leah Messenger

Whether you are planning a once in a lifetime romantic adventure or an action packed family fun adventure, there is arguably no better way to explore the great outdoors than in a motorhome. Loved by many woman adventurers across the world for their practicality and versatility, in a motorhome you can rest easy knowing all your travel requirements are met and everyone in your travelling party is happy and content (for the most part!).

100 Years 2If you are just starting out with the motorhome lifestyle there are many ways you can help familiarise yourself with it all and to build your confident behind the wheel.  Regular practice, booking a course and even joining online forums or a motorhome club can help you meet like-minded female travelers, who are just keen to hit the open road as you!

Seasoned motorhome owners may want to regularly consider whether the motorhome they have is the right fit for their demanding, ever changing lifestyle. With so many options around today to sell and upgrade to a new and improved model, there’s no excuse to have an outdated motorhome that’s not up to scratch with the changing requirements of you and your family.

100 Years 3If you still haven’t taken the plunge and purchased your dream motorhome there are few things you should consider before you part with any cash.  Class B motorhomes drive more like the family car, but contain all the comforts of home including bathroom, bedroom, kitchen as well as ample storage and could well be considered as an entry level motorhome.

Class C motorhomes on the other hand are considered the next stage up and are easily recognisable by the over-the-cab area that is often an optional sleeping area. Significantly more powerful than a Class B motorhome, owners can even tow a small vehicle for short trips if they wish.

To give you an idea of how far the motorhome has come in the past 100 years below we have an infographic that documents the many twist and turns in the history of the motor home.

100 Years

Infographic provided courtesy of www.webuyanymotorcaravan.com 

Microspikes Are My New Best Friends

Microspikes 1

By Emily Pennington

“Why have I never used these before?!” I quietly exclaimed to myself as I skipped down the side of an ice-covered ridge in Yosemite National Park. Rather than boulder-hopping and mountain-goating from stone to stone as I had on my way up the mountain, I was suddenly free to move, parading over frozen streams and mini-waterfalls with the grace of a Bolshoi dancer. The reason? Microspikes.

Microspikes 2

I’m not entirely sure why it took me so long to buy a pair, or why my little forest-obsessed heart was so afraid and untrusting of winter gear in general. Perhaps Southern California had begun to make a permanent impression, declaring all things cold to be untrustworthy cohorts of the Norse gods, or perhaps I just hadn’t found the right winter monkey posse to push me past my comfort zone. In any case, I am now a convert to the religion of microspikes!

Microspikes 3

In case you’re new to the scene, like me, here’s the scoop: microspikes are a step down from crampons, tiny sets of metal spikes attached to rubber that quickly and easily snaps up and around your regular hiking boots. They’re mostly used for hiking and mountaineering when ice may be present on the trail and the slope is not greater than 25-30 degrees. The best part? They aren’t like other winter gear that costs $100 or more! One set of these on Amazon will only set you back about $30, and they work like a dream. I bought the Uelfbaby set with 19 spikes, and I couldn’t be happier. Getting out in the fresh powder atop a frost-bitten cliff in Yosemite has made my Scandinavian bones begin to crave the chilly thrill of winter sports. Snowshoeing, frozen ascents, and cross-country skiing are all in my near future, thanks to the wake up call these little foot bayonets provided. I think this may be the beginning of a tremendously fun and gear-centric snow season! Does anyone have an ice-axe I can borrow?? 😉

Microspikes 4


6 Reasons to Take Your Kids Camping

By Carmen Baguio

“I’ll be at the ball field all weekend with Jane’s soccer tournament.  Then somehow I have to get Jake to karate and Jill to her softball game.”

Does this sound familiar?  It’s become almost a badge of honor among moms to see whose kids can be involved in the most extra-curricular activities.  Then you have the whole “competitive” leagues that required the family’s life to revolve around financing and scheduling vacations around competitions.  Don’t get me wrong.  My youngest was involved in competitive dance for nine years, but that wasn’t our life.  She also had to choose dance or another activity.  We couldn’t afford more than that, and I certainly wasn’t going to have every weekend consumed with travel to one convention center after another.

Parenting is all about balance.

These days (wow that makes me sound old) it seems like more and more family activities involve everyone doing their own thing.  Even when the family is at home, often everyone is on their electronic devices, totally unaware of what the rest of the family is doing.  As a teacher, I’ve never had a student come in Monday morning excitedly telling me about their fantastic weekend on a ball field or in their room playing video games.  However, if there is a Boy Scout Jamboree or if their dad takes them on a fishing trip, even if it rained the entire time, I hear all about the food, hiking in the mud or the big fish that got away!

Girl Scout Camping Bonfire

 

In our quest to have a balanced family life and well-rounded happy children, you can’t go wrong with taking your kids camping.  Here are 6 reasons why:

 

1. Your children can see the country inexpensively.

 My childhood pop-up camper (pictured: me in the back, my mom, our exchange student from Brazil, and my brother)

Compared to hotels or condos, campgrounds are cheap.  You can buy a nice tent for around $100 or less. Tents today are a snap to set up compared to the tents of my childhood.  We didn’t have much money growing up and started out in a tent, then went “big time” with a small, used pop-up.  Camp food is way cheaper than going out to eat every meal.  Even if you are just cooking breakfast and doing sandwiches or hotdogs for lunch, and eat supper out, you will still save a ton compared to staying in a hotel.

Our first family tent (pictured: daughter Lauren, now 22 and her cousin Nathaniel)

 2. Camping is great exercise. Hiking, Chopping, and Canoeing

Getting a campsite set up is great exercise for children, and they won’t ever realize it.  We would always bring logs for the campfire, but it was the job of my girls to gather the kindling.  Back and forth from the woods they would trudge carrying as many twigs as their little arms would carry.  Growing up camping, I remember being the “raker”.  It was my job to rake the leaves from away from the fire pit, then I would spend hours raking out my house, arranging camp chairs and logs for benches so everyone would want to come visit my house.  Then I would change my mind and repeat the process all over again.  I remember one trip where my brother and I spent an entire day trying to roll an old, super-heavy stump over to our fire pit.  Unfortunately, we were never able to get the thing to burn!

Then of course there’s riding bikes everywhere, climbing on the log and jumping off (repeated frequently for precision), canoeing, and hiking.

 

 3. Kids learn to relax and shut out the world. 

Lauren loved to relax and draw in her sketchbook early in the morning.

Rachel relaxing while coloring

In this day and age, kids are under tight school and extra-curricular schedules.  Some of the stress is self-social media induced.  Fortunately, a lot of the places we camp have no cell signal.  There is nothing to do but relax and play.  My oldest daughter (She is now twenty-three) recently told me some of her best memories involve the two of us getting up at the morning light when the whole campground was still quiet.  We would start a little fire and she would sit in my lap with a blanket talking about anything and everything.  Little did I realize how special those mornings by the campfire made her feel.

My youngest, Rachel, has always said that she hated the outdoors.  I think her early exposure to camping and trips to the lake is starting to come back to her.  She has had a super hard freshman year in college.  For a girl who doesn’t like nature, I’m seeing a whole lot of pictures of her laying in her hammock, hiking, and picnicking at the lake.

Rachel, now a college freshman, hiking with friends

4. Camping teaches the appreciation of nature.

I grew in a rural area with woods galore.  When you have that kind of daily exposure, you become comfortable with nature, and it becomes part of your world.  Back then, there wasn’t the fear of child abduction so we were allowed to play all day long in the woods, climbing trees, and building forts.

My girls grew up in suburbia with only a few small trees in our yard unlike the unlimited access to nature that I had growing up.  Times may have changed, but going to a state campground hasn’t.  Boy Scouts and Girls Scouts pretty much teach the same outdoor skills that were taught when I was a Girl Scout.  I was a Girl Scout leader for nine years.  The girls that started as Brownies in second grade turned into seasoned outdoor lovers by high school.

 

5. Camping teaches kids new skills.

Learning to make a campfire & fishing. Yes, that’s me with a catfish!

I built my first campfire with some coaching from my dad.  I was able to use what I learned to teach my daughters and my Girl Scout troop.  It never ceases to amaze me when people assume Joe (my husband) has made the campfire.  Girls can be fire masters, too!

Growing up poor, we couldn’t afford to go to the community pool, so I learned to swim at the state campground.  My girls also learned swimming while camping at a state park.  My youngest still has distinct memories of being in charge of lunch when she was tall enough to put the hot dogs on the grill.  To say she was proud of “cooking” is an understatement.

I asked my daughter Lauren what she learned most from camping. She said it helped her appreciate the silence of the mornings.  She learned to use her creativity to create “kingdoms” in the tent and make toys out of sticks and rocks.  Considering she is in graduate school working on an art history masters (all paid for with scholarships), I would say any camping mishaps were well worth the imaginative skills she learned!

 

6. Your family forms close bonds when camping.

Pictured: I’m playing cards; my grandma cooking & my mom, brother & I.

My fondest memories of my brother involved playing marathon rounds of card games.  Long after our parents would go to sleep, we would still play cards.  After my brother and his roommate (our cousin Joey) went off to college, they would meet us at the campground next to the university.  So then our marathon card games increased to involve three.  When we all married, we still went camping with the six of us playing cards long into the night.  A few years later, the camping tradition continued with our children all becoming camping buddies.

My cousins’ boys, my nephew Nathaniel, and daughter Lauren

Pictured: Cousins at the campfire, Rachel & Lauren playing in the camper, Lauren & Nathaniel

My biggest regret is selling our little pop-up camper.  I had divorced my first husband and thought there was no way I could manage my two young girls and set up a camper by myself.  I should have had more confidence in all that camping had taught me.  I’m now back camping again.  Even though my kids are now longer living at home, they still enjoying meeting hubby Joe and me at the campground and sitting around the fire.  I’m looking forward to the day their future children can get the same benefits from camping that their mothers and grandmother have enjoyed.

 

This post is dedicated to my mom who gave me my first camp cooking lessons.   At the young age of 48, she passed away way too soon, but the memories of her cooking up camp breakfast and snuggling with me around the campfire will never leave me.

~ Carmen Baguio

I miss my camping mama!

 

Carmen and Joe Baguio are a middle-aged couple  who started their travel blog http://www.packyourbaguios.com a year ago.  Their goal is  to encourage other empty-nesters to learn to become adventurous travelers, campers, and cyclists.

 

Inspiration for the (Female) Adventurer’s Soul

Inspiration 1

By Andrea Willingham

I confess: I’m a sucker for a good story with a strong heroine, and we’re not talking Scarlett O’Hara here. We’re talking that rare breed of female lead that somehow seems to elude most mainstream media, disproportionate to the number of male protagonists that dominate our literary landscape and cultural narratives.

Although this topic has become of great interest to me in the last few years, I have tended to shy away from addressing it, frankly because I don’t want to be pegged as some feminazi whining about the patriarchy. That’s not why I’m writing this. I am writing it because I think there are a lot of other people out there — men and women alike — who enjoy hearing the stories of female characters just as much as I do, and just as much as we all like stories about male characters.

I will be the first to admit that some of my favorite stories of all time center around the dude protagonist. Anyone who knows me knows that Into the Wild was one of my biggest inspirations for going to Alaska myself, and before that, Kingbird Highway fueled my teenage obsession with birdwatching and hitchhiking.

In my early naïveté, I wanted so badly to have the adventures that Chris McCandless and Kenn Kaufman had in their solo treks across the US, following in the legacies of even earlier explorers like Lewis & Clark and John Muir. But I was always torn between the dichotomy of being told I can accomplish anything I want, and that I am more limited because I am a woman, vulnerable by default.

Inspiration 2

Oddly enough, I never actually experienced the gender bias myself until I moved to Alaska. Growing up in a family of strong women and graduating near the top of my class in college, nothing ever held me back, though I was aware that my privilege was unique. Yet suddenly when I embarked on my own life of adventure, everyone seemed concerned for my safety and success, probably more so than they would have if I was a big, burly dude. And for good reason.

In rural Alaska, I found myself in a man’s world. For the first time in my life, I was being called at in the streets, followed occasionally when I went out for a walk, offered drinks, sex, and even marriage, and told I was “beautiful” or “cute” by complete strangers. Most of these things are easy to avoid or ignore, but it brought to light the unique challenges faced by female travelers — challenges that possibly make their stories all the more compelling, because they are being dealt with in addition to the usual adversities of any other adventurer.

“A man on the road is solitary. A woman on the road is alone,” writes Vanessa Veselka in her essay Green Screen: The Lack of Female Road Narratives and Why it Matters, in The American Reader. She continues, “This is not cute wordplay, but a radically different social experience. Often, I was asked why was I travelling. But over time, I came to understand that the question was not ‘why,’ but ‘how.’”

My experience has been similar. When I’m in uniform as a park ranger, I’m occasionally met with surprise when people find out I’m from so far away, or that I travel just for the experience of it. “Why would you want to come all the way up to Alaska?” or “Why did you leave?” or “You’re so brave to do this by yourself.” One older lady even said to me (I kid you not), “It’s so interesting they’re letting women do this now. I met another young female park ranger this year, and I just couldn’t believe it!” A lot of people still have an antiquated view of the mustached man with pith helmet, so the idea that travelers today can be any one of us is quite a different pill to swallow.

Are female adventurers less common than their male counterparts, or simply less noticed? Sometimes I think the latter may be true, which is perhaps why I’m so intrigued by their stories when I do hear them. If you are too, check out some the following and feel free to share some of your own favorite heroine books and movies in the comments.

 

Book and Film | Wild

Inspiration 3“Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves…” ― Cheryl Strayed

I first heard about this book in the summer of 2013, being criticized for similar reasons that Chris McCandless was criticized for in Into the Wild. In many ways, the story is the same, only this time it’s a woman who goes into the wilderness to escape demons of her past, ill-prepared and misguided in her efforts and judgment. It’s great! It’s raw and honest and lays everything out in the open. Unlike McCandless though (spoiler ahead!), author Cheryl Strayed does not succumb to the deadly forces of nature, and instead lives on to write this memoir. It’s exciting, yet a realistic look at the challenges and torture of hiking over 1,000 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail with no prior experience. The movie adaptation starring Reese Witherspoon came out in 2014, and did a surprisingly good job of capturing the spirit of the book. My one qualm with it was that it focused more on Strayed’s emotional grappling with her past and less with her experiences on the trail than did the book.  I would have liked to see more of her trail stories depicted, but perhaps that’s a good argument for both reading the book and seeing the movie – you can get a good taste of both that way.

 

Book | The Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Lost

Inspiration 4This book far exceeded my expectations, capturing the very essence of the coming of age journey that so many young woman travelers experience. I wish I had read it about 7 years ago, when I first traveled abroad. It is the story of Rachel Friedman, a college student who finds her love of travel after spontaneously spending a summer waitressing in Ireland. There, she meets a free-spirited Australian woman who inspires Rachel to spend the next year traveling for the sake of the experience, and together they encounter wild adventurers across three continents, as the title suggests.

It’s a fun read, relatable for anyone who has ever fantasized about traveling the world with their best friend but has absolutely no idea where to start or how to do it. Instead of worrying about that though, Rachel learns to just go for it, inspiring the reader that anyone can do the same.

 

Inspiration 5Book | Life List 

Life List is particularly interesting because it is the true story of a woman who finds her adventurous side after raising a family and spending some 30 years as a humble housewife. At the age of 50, after being misdiagnosed with only a year left to live, Phoebe Snetsinger sets out to turn her hobby of birdwatching into the most exciting quest of her life. She ends up spending the next 18 years traveling the world in search of rarer and rarer bird species. Although she often takes guided birding tours in each place she goes, her journey is far from sheltered, as she encounters accidents, a kidnapping, and malaria among other misfortunes. But despite all this, Phoebe is never deterred and it is truly her enthusiasm, commitment, and perseverance that makes this such a compelling read.

 

Inspiration 6Film | Open Road

This fascinating little film tells the story of a young Brazilian artist who lives a solitary and nomadic lifestyle, on a journey of self-discovery. It has a definite independent film-vibe, excellent character development, and a dash of mystery as the story unfolds and the heroine struggles with the desire for human connections while also holding herself at a distance from others. I think it’s a common struggle for many young people who take off on their own, and this film does a good job of taking you along on the journey without revealing it all too fast. It’s a bit slow-paced and the scenes are acted out so naturally you could almost forget you’re watching a film.

 

Film and Book | Tracks:

Inspiration 7“The two important things that I did learn were that you are as powerful and strong as you allow yourself to be, and that the most difficult part of any endeavour is taking the first step, making the first decision.” ― Robyn Davidson

Literally, it’s a true story about a girl in the 1970s who decides to walk 1,700 miles across the Australian desert with 4 camels and her dog. What’s not to love about that? The book has been out for a long time, but I’ve only seen the movie so far and it immediately became one of my favorite movies I’ve ever seen. Like so many other stories of this caliber, it has a number of flashback scenes alluding to Robyn Davidson’s troubled past, but unlike some of the other stories, these don’t seem to completely dominate her motivation for her journey. Ultimately, she is simply on a quest to prove to herself that she can do it. As a character, Robyn is fascinating and you can’t help but empathize with her: she does what she needs to get what she wants, but rejects offers from others to accompany her on her trip because she wants to have the experience alone. Without giving too much away (because you really HAVE to watch this film), she finds that in some sense, shared experiences are what make life worthwhile — and survivable.

 

While I am continuously building up my personal library of strong heroine stories, I will leave you with these for now. I invite others to share their favorite heroine stories as well — and most of all, I hope you will be inspired to go out and live your own. Adventure on!

Inspiration 8

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