Wilderness Survival–Increasing Your Chances If You Get Lost

Hiker in wilderness
Do you know what to do to increase your odds of survival if lost in the wilderness?

Wilderness survival is a mandatory thing in our family.  We don’t go overboard, but we all know–even the kids–what to do if we find ourselves lost in the woods. Most of the time, this is information that never needs to be used. We’re all pretty vigilant about staying together and within earshot.

But what about the few cases where it might become necessary? What if you discover you’re lost? Do you know how to increase your odds of survival? Remember these tips:

the very first thing is to sit down.

  1. Stop. Control your breathing. Sit down.
  2. Think. Are you really lost? Where did you come from? How much daylight is left? What can you do in the next ten or fifteen minutes that will help you survive?
  3. Have a drink of water and/or a snack bar. Calm, calm.
  4. Once you are calm and have had a drink of water and/or a snack, check to see what you have on you that will help you survive your situation. Make plans.

three. three. the rule of three.

  1. Three fires, either in a row or a triangle, is the international sign for help.
  2. Three minutes without air, three hours without shelter in an extreme environment (such as winter conditions in the wilderness), three days without water. You can also survive three weeks without food if you have the other three.
  3. Three minutes of severe bleeding before loss of consciousness and death. Stop that blood flow.

try these emergency shelters.

  1. Look for shelter from wind, rain and snow.  Underneath a large fallen log, rock outcropping, or cave (though they may not be empty). Underneath a huge pine or spruce tree is an option if there is nothing else; usually the ground is springy and thick with pine or spruce needles, which also insulates to some extent.
  2. Try building a debris hut; make a depression in the snow or clear to the ground, depending on what there is in the way of snow. Make a teepee out of longer branches. Shore up the sides with shorter ones. Pile branches, shrubbery and debris over it.  The hut should be just big enough for you to fit into. This will conserve body heat. Make a bed of debris to insulate you from the ground.  An excellent article that actually argues against a debris hut for a shorter term emergency shelter is written by Wolf Camp and the Conservation College. It makes for informative reading. You can access it here. 

Warmth.

  1. If nothing is available for a shelter and it’s cold at night, walk in small circles, do jumping jacks, do push-ups–anything to keep moving and stay as warm as possible. It will be a long, miserable night, but you won’t freeze to death.
  2. If you can build a fire, create a firewall behind it to reflect the heat back to you in front of your shelter.
  3. Many survivalists recommend the best way of starting a fire is a magnesium-and-steel firestarter.  It is the most reliable way of starting a fire in the cold, even more reliable than matches or a lighter, because you can get a ton of spark to start a fire even in windy or wet conditions. Carry some waxed cotton balls with you as tinder and you’re good to go in nearly every situation. If you have a knife with you, peel the inside of tree branches for dry shavings for tinder.  Cut kindling.  All these things will help you build a fire in adverse conditions.
  4. Get as much firewood as you think you’ll need to get through the night, then double the amount, at least.  Campers will tell you–it takes a lot of wood to keep a fire continuously burning for hours.

water.

  1. Boil your water if you can. This will kill any pathogens in it and aid in keeping you warm.  If you have nothing to boil the water with, and you have the supplies, you can make a water filter with a plastic drinking bottle or bag. Instructions can be found here.
  2. Of course, the best thing to do is to be prepared. You can get something called a Life Straw, and that’s kind of what it is–a straw with a filter in it to drink directly from water sources. Keep it in your backpack or even a back pocket when you go running or on hikes.

signal for help.

  1. As mentioned before, three fires is the international call for help.
  2. If starting and keeping a fire going is difficult, consider building a smudge fire instead–a hot blaze with green branches to give off smoke.
  3. If lots of tree branches, logs or rocks are available, create an SOS in a clearing nearby your location.  Make it as large as possible.
  4. Use reflective surfaces to signal for help.  Glasses, a mirror, even a dead cell phone face, can all be used. Take a whistle with you.
  5. Stay put! In wilderness survival, you can worsen the chances of being found if you wander off.  It’s all too easy to go deeper into the bush, thinking you’re going the right way, putting you further and further away from the area searchers think you might be.

Of course, the best thing to do is to be prepared for getting lost in the woods, even if you’re sure you won’t. Take a cell phone with you. Tell someone where you’re going, or better yet, go with someone. Don’t veer off the trail or the route you said you would take. Pack a fire-starter, tinder, water, a Life Straw or purification tablets, snack bars, an emergency medical kit, a tarp or emergency bivvy (check out this one.) Take that whistle!

Take the time to build an emergency survival kit and take it with you, even if you’re just going out for a walk. You can get ideas for building a good one here.

Don’t be one of the hundreds of people that disappear in the wilderness and are never found alive, each and every year. It can happen even if you just go jogging one day. Don’t think so?  Check out this gripping–and sobering–true story by John Billman.

And then go and build your survival kit.

 

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Urban Hiking–When You Can’t See The Forest Or The Trees

urban hiker

Urban hiking has always been around, more or less. People have been walking the city streets since there have been cities.  But it never really became a movement until author and columnist Dan Keoppel showed us it was possible to rethink our urban surroundings. He organized a two-day event in L.A. called The Big Parade in 2009, which encouraged neighborhood walks in and around the area. A few articles later and the concept of urban hiking became an actual thing to do. It’s hard to say if the event will occur this year, but they do have a Facebook page you can access to find out.

Urban hiking is hitting the concrete trails instead of the dirt paths, to explore the city or neighborhood you live in.  It is just as strenuous as hiking in the wilderness; one of the goals of an urban hiker is finding as many stairs as possible to climb. Ultimately, though, it’s just a way to get out and hike when regular hiking isn’t possible. And it has great side benefits.

you don’t need to pack your backpack full of stuff.

Urban hiking means that you are generally well within reach of a store or place where you can get food and drink.  An although you can’t pee outside like you can on a regular hike, you can make sure your route has public washrooms along the way. Which generally means you can wash your hands. Just saying.  Here’s a basic list of what you’ll need for a day hike in an urban setting:

  • An extra pair of shoes and socks–your feet will get tired and sweaty. Refresh them with a new pair of socks part way through and a change of walking shoes.
  • A bottle of water. Any more can be purchased during the hike, along with food.
  • A snack or two. Just to keep you going if you don’t want to stop.
  • A map with your route marked out.
  • Your camera!
  • A notepad and pen. You’re going to discover things! Stores, buildings and restaurants you want to check out, a library you didn’t know about, a little urban park you’ll want to revisit. Mark these things on your map and record the details in your notebook.
  • A rain jacket. (Rain always shows up at the least convenient time.)
  • A bank card or credit card. For that water and those snacks, and maybe even an impulse buy or two. Also, if something happens like a sprained ankle, you can call a cab and get home.
  • Your cell phone. For obvious reasons.
  • Small first-aid kit with aspirin and blister packs.

You don’t need to travel far to start your hike.

Out your front door. Literally. If you find it’s exciting and fun, you can make plans to travel to nearby cities and urban areas for new hiking adventures. But it’s not necessary, making urban hiking one of the most convenient adventures you can take up.

Exercise.

Ever wish you had the “oomph” to exercise regularly, maybe get in better shape that you are now? Urban hiking will do that for you. It’s absolutely free, and you can make it as long or as short as you want. Like any hiking adventure, it’s exercise you’re not really aware of doing, because you’re too busy enjoying the surroundings.

the joy of discovery.

Perhaps the coolest thing about urban hiking is the fact that you find areas and corners of your city or neighborhood that you had been completely unaware of.  You learn about the structure of it, become familiar with it in a way that intrigues and inspires you. My nephew and I urban hike while we geocache. We discovered that some of our neighborhoods have Little Free Libraries set up–and if you don’t know what they are, you really should find out about them here. Free books 24/7? Yes please! The point is, we never would have known had we not discovered them urban hiking. Parks we never knew about, too. Amazing ones. Some not so little!

you don’t have to depend on anyone to urban hike.

You can go with a group (just type in “urban hiking groups” and your area to find out where they are), or you can go with friends, or by yourself.  You’re not dependent on anyone else’s time schedule or fitness level unless you want to be.  Granted, this is also the case with standard hiking, but urban hiking gives a person the opportunity to hike safely when on their own; they just have to map their hike in busy, populated, well-lit areas, which is what most of urban hiking consists of.

a few things to remember.

  1. If your route takes you into areas where you may not feel safe, or if it takes you into even temporarily isolated areas, obey the rules of safety and common sense and take precautions. It may be going with others, taking your (big) dog, keeping pepper spray on your person, or talking on your cell phone with someone as you walk. And if it is a place that looks dangerous and isolated, don’t travel it alone. Ever. There are predators in the city and your neighborhoods, just like in the wilderness. They may walk on two feet instead of four, but they’re there. Don’t take chances.
  2. Tell someone your route, when you are going to leave and when you are going to be back, even if it’s just for a few hours.  You can never over-plan safety.
  3. Mark out rest stops and stores on your route, so if you get tired, you’ll know how far away you are from the nearest one.
  4. Check the weather before heading out.  Prepare for the weather that is, and that might be.
  5. Take lots of pictures!
  6. Plan a circular route, that is, a route that won’t have you back-tracking. That way the whole trip will be fresh.
  7. Start small and work your way up. If you rarely hike, or don’t hike at all, begin with a small route. Plan it as if it was a large one, but keep the overall distance easy to cover. That first trip will tell you if you can do a longer one, and you’ll gain confidence and experience as you go.

Although urban hiking isn’t as huge as other outdoor adventures, it is easy to find groups and you can find trails already mapped out in most urban areas. You can also find information about urban hiking gear and all sorts of advice to help you along.

So don’t feel down about being unable to get to the wilderness to go hiking.  It’s as near as the street you live on.

Camping Essentials–Fixed Blade Camping Knife

boot knife
Your camping knife should look like it’s for camping, not for a member of the Black Watch.

One of the most important camping essentials you can purchase is afixed-blade knife.  From whittling wood to field-dressing a deer, that knife on your belt can be a constant source of joy or a huge disappointment.

but how do you choose a camping knife, with the sheer volume of knives that are available? Here are some quick tips:

take a moment to decide what your knife will actually be doing.

Are you just going to do a little carving of sticks or grilled steaks? Or will your knife be a real worker, in use for hunting, fishing and camping?  Invest in a good knife no matter what, and invest more money if you want your knife to do more. Once you decide how hard-working your knife is going to be, follow these guidelines to narrow down the field.

Begin By taking a look at fixed blade knives that are, you know, carriable.

“Carriable” sounds odd but trust me, it’s a real word. Begin by looking at4″ blades.  Go to camping and hunting stores and actually feel the knife in your hand, how it balances, whether or not it’s something you’d be comfortable not only using but carrying on your belt. A huge knife like Crocodile Dundee (I know I’m dating myself) carries may be impressive, but it’s not going to be something the average camper can use or even want. Start with 4″ blades, the size most campers and hunters use. Go from there, if you want.  But a 4″ fixed blade will do everything you want it to. Promise. Here a few you can look at if you need a starting point.

Use online research as a starting point, but go further.

There is nothing like online research!  You can quickly get an idea of what you want, what you have to pay, and what others think about certain brands.  But if you possibly can, ask someone you know about their knife. What they like about it. What they don’t. What they would choose as a knife next.  Trust me, campers are eager to talk about their essential gear. They love their knives!  Once you get one for camping, you will too–if you do your homework.

Do you have a camping knife? What kind is it? Where did you get it? Share your expertise with our readers by commenting below!

An Organized Tent

It can be difficult to stay organized even in a small tent like this one.
This is what my first tent looked like, only mine was bright orange. Barely fit a single sleeping bag. I loved it.

Do you need help to organize your tent? The first time I went camping, I had no problem with keeping an organized tent. I slept in one of those tiny, orange pup-tents that barely fit a twin-sized mattress and sleeping bag. All my clothing and toiletries fit into a backpack. The only shoes I had were the ones on my feet. It was high summer, so I didn’t take a jacket. There was a space at one end of the air mattress that the backpack fit into, with no room for anything else. Perfect.

Now, decades later, I sleep in an instant-up tent they say is made for ten but is merely comfortable for me. I have a queen-sized mattress and sleeping bag, a folding table and chair, and a Luggable Loo in one corner for the middle of the night. My tent has enough room for my iPad, my camera bag, my gym bag and my backpack, both full; it also has a place for me to put my shoes, hiking boots and laundry bag. With all this space, you would think staying organized wouldn’t be a problem. But it is, unless I follow these rules:

1.  Contain, contain, contain.

Especially your clothes!  When you’re out camping, it’s easy to just throw your stuff anywhere because you’re not sure where to put it or can’t be bothered to stuff it back in your duffle bag, but that is disastrous.  I carry, now, a cheapo tote that has plastic grocery bags in it–the ones they pack your groceries in at the store. Don’t get a new tote or gym bag, even–go to the second-hand store and buy one with a working zipper that doesn’t look too beat up. Wet clothes goes in one plastic grocery bag, dirty clothes another, maybe  muddy shoes in another. It all goes into the cheapo tote bag. This keeps your tent clear of clothing, and makes it easier to pack up when you’re ready to go home.

2. A side table.

Depending on the tent you’re in, this could be a folding storage box you brought camping supplies in, your folding chair if you don’t have room for a table and chair both, or an actual table. It doesn’t matter what you choose, as long as it’s a stable, flat surface to lay your glasses, reading material, camera, etc. on and that it’s about the same height as your sleeping area. If your tent has gear pockets use them too, but a side table will enable you to put small items within easy reach, and they won’t get lost, kicked aside or stepped on. You would be amazed how hard it can be to find your keys when they are mixed up in a sleeping bag/liner/deflating mattress (this is experience speaking here).

3. Organize by use.

Keep items organized by their use. Toiletries get packed in with towels, face cloth, mirror and makeup. Underwear, socks and long underwear are put together in the same spot in your tote. Depending on how long you are staying at the camp site, keep your jeans, tee shirts, over shirts, etc. packed and stacked together in your tote. Larger gym totes generally have outside pockets. Use these for extraneous gear–flashlight, small personal medicine kit (in case you need anti-heartburn liquid or analgesics at midnight), an unbreakable eyeglasses case, etc. If you like to write or text, you can keep your writing or electronic supplies there too. When you know all your stuff for a particular activity is in one place, you won’t tear your gear apart looking for it.

4. bags in bags in bags.

Ziploc bags, all sizes, is the best tip I can give you. Place your makeup in a ziploc bag and pack it. Place your toothbrush, toothpaste and mouthwash in a ziploc bag and pack it. Put your solar charger, phone and iPad in one. Your socks in one. Your hairbrush, comb, and hair accessories in one. Put your soap, shampoo, cloth and towel in one. Ad infinitum. If you have them packed like that, you can just reach in and grab a bag before you head for the river, lake or camp showers. Not only that, but if a wet disaster happens, like rain or flooding, your important stuff stays dry. And as was mentioned before, you’re not rummaging around in your bigger bags looking for certain items, and messing everything up in the process.

5. A couple of little tools make it easier.

Pack with your stuff the following things to stay organized:

  • A small dustpan and whisk
  • A damp, bleachy cleaning cloth in a (yes) ziploc bag, or wipes
  • Extra grocery bags for garbage or miscellaneous things
  • Some extra, smaller bungee cords (sometimes that tent or sleeping bag or air mattress just won’t fold up as tight as it should)
  • A small emergency repair kit for your air mattress. Include duct tape for other emergencies.

one last list of tips to stay organized:

  1. A large mat outside your tent entrance helps to keep the dirt, leaves, pine needles etc. outside where they belong. Shake it out every day.
  2. If you have a luggable loo in your tent, carry all the supplies for it in the bucket part for transport. Pack toilet paper, hand sanitizer, biodegradable deod0rizer that also helps break down sewage, and a small bottle of earth-friendly disinfectant for cleaning it out at the end of the trip. Place it all in the bucket. Take it out of the bucket when you set it up for use in your tent. If you put it all in a (yes again) large ziploc bag before stuffing it in the bucket, it will make it easier to take out and put in, and contain in the tent.
  3. Some people have found a hanging organizer to be handy for inside their tent; I never could see the sense in it.  For me it was just one extra thing to pack. It never held what I wanted it to hold without it looking messy in and of itself. Depending on your gear and tent, though, it may be just the thing for you. You can get them at second-hand stores or dollar stores if you want to give them a try.
  4. Make your bed in the morning. Shocking how tidy this makes a tent, and how good you feel about going inside your tent when you do. Not kidding. Plus it is then a handy surface to lay things out on when you’re packing for a hike or whatever.

Any organization tips you have that you want to share for keeping your tent clear of clutter or mess?  Share them in the comments below!

 

Camping Comfort Food–5 Chocolate Cheesecake Pie

Chocolate cheesecake pie
5-Chocolate Cheesecake Pie! You can have a decadent chocolate pie, made at the camp site, with very little fuss.

Of all the comfort foods out there, chocolate consistently figures in the top ten. This is hardly surprising, considering the variety of things you can make with it. So Chocolate Cheesecake Pie was something we wanted to share with you for your next camping trip.

Why “5 Chocolate Cheesecake Pie”? Because you start with a chocolate crumb crust, pour in a layer of chocolate cheese cake, top it with another layer of dark chocolate pie filling, top it with chocolate whipped topping, and finish it all off with shavings of very good 60% dark chocolate. This pie is delicious, rich, satisfying, and easy to make! You can make it at home and take it with you, or make it at the camp site.  It’s up to you. This is the third recipe in our Camping Comfort Food series; Camping Mac n’ Cheese was our first one (you make it all in one pot), and last month’s was Low-Carb Zucchini Enchiladas (you would be shocked at how easy they are to make!)

5-Chocolate Cheesecake Pie
chocolate pie ingredients
It doesn’t take many ingredients to make a chocolate pie at the camp site.

Cook first package of pie filling according to directions. Set aside for 15 minutes, or until no longer hot (can be warm). Mix in softened cream cheese. (If cream cheese seems a bit hard, place in a ziploc bag, seal it, and put in water that is hot not boiling, for about ten minutes.) Blend with a spoon or wire whisk.  When it’s well blended, pour into graham cracker crust. Set aside.

In a clean pot, make the dark chocolate pie filling. (You can use chocolate pudding and melt a dark chocolate chocolate bar in it when cooking, if you like). When filling is done, pour over chocolate cream cheese layer. Cover, cool and then chill by placing in a cooler for a few hours or overnight. When ready to serve, take 2 cups of whipped topping and mix in 2 tablespoons sifted cocoa. Once well mixed, top pie with it. Take your good dark chocolate and shave chocolate over pie with a vegetable peeler. Serve.

Camping Comfort Food–Low-Carb Zucchini Chicken Enchiladas

zucchini enchiladas
You want to eat these incredible zucchini enchiladas, I’m promising you.

Hi! Welcome to the second entry in Camping Comfort Food. You can find the first one, One Pot Camping Mac n’ Cheese, by clicking here. This week’s recipe is amazing! It’s extremely low-carb, because it uses zucchini strips instead of tortillas. Generally to my way of thinking, you can’t put “low-carb” and “comfort food” in the same sentence unless you’re talking about total opposites, but this one’s different. It’s simple enough to prepare (though messy but we’ll get to that) and loaded with yummy flavor! The chicken enchilada filling is rolled up in overlapping zucchini strips, and topped with cheese, then baked. We also give an alternate recipe, using the same ingredients as a casserole.  Make it at home and take it to the camp site, or make it and bake it in a Dutch oven. Either way, the moment you taste it, you’ll see why it’s listed under comfort food. Not even kidding a little bit.

Zucchini Enchiladas
  • 2 large zucchinis
  • 3 cups cooked, shredded chicken
  • 3 cups (375 ml or 24 oz.) red enchilada sauce (reserve 1 cup)
  • 1 cup finely chopped onions
  • 2 cups (8 oz. or 200 gr.) shredded Montery Jack cheese
  • 2 cups sour cream or Balkan-style plain yogurt (topping)
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro (topping)
  • 2 avocados, peeled and sliced (optional, for topping)

Before Starting:

  1. If you are making this at the campsite, splurge on a bag of pre-shredded cheese. It makes things so much easier, and you can use the rest of it to top baked potatoes or chili, mix into dips, or blend in with eggs. Try not to think of the price.
  2. If you are having trouble rolling up the three strips of overlapping
    Zucchini strips
    Overlap all three strips or lay two side-by-side and the third in the center. Makes rolling easier.

    zucchini, instead of overlapping one after the other, lay two strips side by side and the third strip over the center. This keeps the strips from separating quite as much, and you’re covering it with cheese anyway.

  3. Rolling the strips gives you the distinct impression you’re eating enchiladas. But if you use the casserole method mentioned below, you don’t suffer at all in the taste department!
A Brief Note About Enchiladas And Dutch Ovens:
  1. Enchiladas only use enchilada sauce, onions, Mexican cheese and corn tortillas.  But feel free to experiment, since you’re already changing the tortillas out for zucchini. A shredded cheese mix is wonderful, and I promise you, no matter how many people turn over in their graves, aged cheddar and/or mozzarella is spectacular on it.
  2. If you are making this at the camp site (enchiladas or casserole style), make sure your baking pan fits inside your Dutch oven. If you intend to cook it directly in the oven without a pan, make certain your oven
    zucchini enchilada mix in pan
    Lay zucchini in pan, then spread chicken enchilada mix over top.

    doesn’t have too much heat underneath. Have 24 briquettes–16 on top and 8 on the bottom, baking pan or no. This will give you an inside heat of about 375°F for about 15-45 minutes, depending on the outdoor temperature, wind, etc. Fifteen minutes is probably fine, since the enchiladas are cooked except for the zucchini, and that vegetable is lovely and mild even when it’s raw, so just heated through is nearly perfect. It cooks great, too, so cooking it longer won’t ruin it by any means.

  3. These are wonderful with avocado slices! Peel and slice the avocado, placing it on one side of the dish or directly on top of the enchiladas or casserole, just before serving.
Make it:

Fry finely chopped onion in some butter or coconut oil or other fat. Once the onion is translucent, add the cooked, shredded chicken. Stir until blended and then add all but the reserved cup of the enchilada sauce. Stir, simmering, for about 5 minutes. Turn off heat and set aside.

Wash zucchini thoroughly, then cut off ends. Slice lengthwise in half if zucchini is 6″ or more in diameter. Using a Y-vegetable peeler, a mandolin slicer, or vegetable peeler capable of peeling wide vegetables, peel long strips of zucchini until the zucchini is used up.

On a clean surface, overlap three strips of zucchini. Place a tablespoonful or so of chicken mixture on the end of the three overlapping strips, and carefully roll up. The mix has a tendency to fall out either side; just keep shoving it in and roll, then place the rolled zucchini enchilada in a pan or directly in your dutch oven. Place coals on top and on bottom, and wait at least 15 minutes before checking. When enchiladas or casserole is hot and steaming, remove, drizzle with sour cream or Balkan-style plain yogurt and cilantro, and serve.

Or You Can Make It This Way:
Enchilada casserole
Top enchilada chicken mix with another layer of zucchini, then pour enchilada sauce over all. Finish by adding a layer of shredded cheese and bake.

Casserole Style:  Take a 13″ x 9″ (or two 8×8″ pans if fitting into a Dutch oven) casserole dish, grease, and lay 1/4″ zucchini strips in the bottom. Spread chicken mixture evenly over strips. Top with more zucchini slices. Pour enchilada sauce over and finish by spreading a layer of shredded cheese on top. Bake in a 375°F oven or Dutch oven using instructions for enchilada style, for at least fifteen minutes. Top with sour cream or yogurt and fresh cilantro, and serve. Serves 4-8.

I really hope you like this recipe; I love it, and it has become a regular meal at my house. For me, it’s low on gluten and super healthy, for my family, it just plain tastes delicious. Let me know if you tried it, what changes you made if any, and if you liked it as much as we do!

 

 

 

10 Top Camping Blogs

campers
You can’t ever have too much information about camping

I write a camping blog because I love camping. I love it! It stands to reason, then, that I would love anything related to camping—including other camping blogs. There are tons of them out there, but it’s hard to distinguish between blogs that just want you to come to their site to buy products, blogs that are defunct, and blogs that actually have something concrete to say or teach.
Below are ten really good blogs about camping that I frequent. You might notice a conspicuous absence of hiking blogs. That will be an upcoming post. For now—blogs that focus on the camping experience:

#1—50 Campfires

50 Campfires is an online camping magazine. There is a good reason it has, as its tagline, “The Camping Authority”. This extremely interesting website has everything—camping tips, recipes, gear reviews and more. It focuses on camping throughout the U.S. and really should be checked out. Great resources.

#2—Roaming Miles For Smiles

This great little blog has wonderful information especially for RVers. Their tagline is “It’s the journey, not the destination”, and boy do they deliver. You learn about money management, different travel spots throughout the U.S., insights into the RV life. Extremely readable, this blog will inspire you and help you live a mobile life. Follow them on Twitter: @RoamingSmiles .

#3—Sue’s Outdoor Crew

Sue’s website has been around for a while, but this year she’s kicked it into high gear with her posts. Focusing on water adventure (canoeing/fishing) and the camping experiences that result, her subjects range from how to pack a food barrel to quinzee building (a pretty entertaining hands-on experience; once I finished reading it I wanted winter to be here so I could try it!). On Twitter, you can follow this blog at @sue_squared . 

#4—Camping For Women

What a great idea for a blog! Camping For Women is a global resource guide for women who love to camp. It addresses issues unique to a woman’s camping experience, from tips and trends to tricky things like camping alone, kids and hygiene when camping. Bookmark this page, I’m telling you.

#5—Man Camping

In a spirit of fairness (and also because it’s a great blog), we bring you the opposite side of the gender experience with Man Camping. I love its tagline—“Paddle far, push your limits, bring booze”. They deal with “The lost art of trekking through the wilderness like a man!”—Trust me, women will love this site as well.

#6—Camping For Foodies

This blog is on a mission to encourage people to live in the moment and enjoy nature. Their site is loaded, I mean loaded, with recipes and cooking techniques you can use when camping. They also have reviews and tips for tent and RV camping, and kid-oriented activities for families.

#7—Snowy’s Blog

Not many people in North America know of Snowy’s Blog, and they should. It’s a popular camping store in Australia, and the blog is loaded with over 300 articles of first-hand advice, ideas and reviews from the staff for hiking, camping and travel adventures. I tried to stay away from businesses that have blogs. I realize that you can find them without help. But this one bears looking into—it’s advice from personal experience.

#8—The Outdoor Adventure

The Outdoor Adventure is here because, in addition to being experience- and information-heavy, the blog is also located in British Columbia, a personal favorite camping land of mine (okay, okay—because I live here. But it’s really camping-oriented!) This family believes in getting out and adventuring, whether on a tight budget, have kids, or limited time. They focus on travelling light and on the experience.

#9—Beyond The Tent

What a great blog this is! It has a lot of info, well organized, for the camping family. How-to posts, recipes, gear and more, this blog is great for camping in the U.S. in state parks, national parks, and camp grounds. They even give you a free ebook for subscribing! (Yes, yes, I know; my freebie is coming, and I’ll send it to all my current subscribers as well so no one misses out.)

#10—Camping With Style

No proper camping blog list would be complete without this very professional and info-rich website. Its emphasis is on getting outdoors and having (or increasing) an active outdoor lifestyle. It’s loaded with news, reviews, festival and family camping, competitions and places you can stay in the U.K. So worth checking out!

Do You Have An Informative Camping Blog?

If so, just drop me a line and let me know—I give you a visit and leave a comment, and add you to this list! If you have a favorite camping blog I’ve missed, drop a line as well. When it comes to camping, you can’t have too many resources for getting outside and enjoying yourself in a tent!

 

Your Camp Kitchen–Buttermilk Salad Dressing

three types of buttermilk salad dressiing.
Left to right: Suggestions for buttermilk salad dressing: Avocado, Lemon-Dijon with Cilantro, and in front, Parmesan Feta.

On the last Wednesday of every month, we’ll be introducing recipes, ideas and techniques for the camp kitchen that will elevate your food from ordinary camping fare to food that is out of this world! This month, Your Camp Kitchen would like to introduce Buttermilk Salad Dressing.

The great thing about this recipe is that it’s not only cheaper to make, but it’s tastier, too. You can make it at home and bring it to the site, or make it at camp. And the recipe is spectacularly versatile. Once you have the dressing made, you can add anything you like to it. Blend an avocado into it. Crumble some feta cheese. Add some Dijon mustard and grated Parmesan. Your creamy taste sensation is limited only by the imagination. Try mincing some dill pickle in and add a 1/4 teaspoon of dried dill. Really, anything goes. Your salad–and your camping companions–will thank you.

Buttermilk Salad Dressing
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt (we find Balkan yogurt great because of its creaminess and slight tartness)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon crushed garlic (1 clove)
  • salt and pepper to taste (about 1/4 teaspoon each)

Place ingredients in a bowl and whisk until well blended. Pour into a bottle or simply spoon from bowl on to salad. If dressing is too thick for your taste, just dilute with a little more buttermilk.

In addition to the suggestions in the paragraph before the recipe, here are a couple more ideas:

Ranch:  Add 1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill, 1 tablespoon minced chives, and 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard.

Creamy Russian:   Add 1/4 cup ketchup, 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard, 1 teaspoon onion salt.

Roasted Red Pepper:  1/2 cup roasted red pepper, minced; 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar.

Spicy Mexican:  1/4 cup hot chili-garlic sauce (a good substitute is Frank’s Red Hot Sauce), the juice from one lime, 1/4 teaspoon extra salt.

This dressing can be used on other things as well. Keep it thicker for burger toppings or to jazz up your baked potato. Add some to scrambled eggs, or drizzle over a casserole. This dressing is a great basic to add some wow to your camp cooking!

Next Wednesday we’ll be doing another camp comfort food. Stay tuned!

 

Protect Yourself During Hunting Season

Gun set up for hunting season
Are you safe during hunting season?

Something you need to think about right now is how to protect yourself during hunting season. As a hunter, camper, hiker, or adventurer, hunting season is well upon us. With that adventurous time comes great stories around a camp fire, and tales that get taller with the passing years. Each year, though, there are other stories–news stories of accidental shootings, animal attacks, and the consequences of insect bites from problem bugs like ticks, mosquitoes and chiggers. How do we protect ourselves if we are hikers? Campers? Other hunters? Here’s a quick, common-sense run-down on what to do.

protect yourself from hunters.

If you are a hiker or camper that doesn’t hunt, you may be concerned about heading out into the wilderness for a little bush camping or hiking during hunting season. Most hunters are extremely aware of the dangers that accidental encounters can pose. For the most part, they are out to get food for their families, enjoy the great outdoors, and connect with nature in a way that is very unique and personal to each one.

So how do you co-exist in a way that keeps you both safe and happy?

  • Be aware of what hunting season means in the area you will camp or hike in.  This means knowing whether or not hunting is even allowed in that area, what the animals are that are being hunted, and when the hunting season is open and finished for that area. Remember that just because you are in a provincial or national park, it doesn’t automatically make you safe. Some parks allow hunting, some don’t. Check and be sure.
  • Wear a blaze-orange-colored vest or hat (or some other item) to make you very visible to hunters.  Even bright-colored clothes work. Stay away from white and earth tones, and any color that might be confused with the animal in question (such as blue and red during turkey season).
  • Make noise! Like warning off bears, shouting, loud talking and whistling will help alert hunters that you are, in fact, a walking, talking human being, and not this season’s back strap on the  barbie.
  • It’s not just you. If you go hiking or camping with your dog, invest in one of those bright-orange blazers for pup, as well. You can find a selection here.

Protect yourself from moose and deer.

There are usually four things that prompt a moose or deer to attack: 1) Mothers protecting fawns, 2)mating season, 3)territorial control, and 4) high population.

  • Cervidae (moose, elk, caribou and deer, among others) can get bat-poop crazy. They have been known to do things that defy logic, such as attacking already dead “rivals” (and if you don’t believe me watch this YouTube video), lawnmowers, gardeners, hikers and the like. Agitation is the key. If they are agitated, for whatever reason, you can rightfully assume they will attack. So–
  • Do not spray your body or anything else near you with elk/deer scent. 
  • If you encounter a deer, moose, elk, caribou or any other cervidae in the wilderness, watch its body language. Stomping and huffing is a clear signal to back away slowly and put something between you and it, such as a tree or large rock or outcropping. Wave your arms and make loud noises (but not for moose; see below) as you back away. Do not turn your back.
  • If it attacks, climb a tree if there’s time. Curl up in a fetal position if there isn’t. If it won’t stop attacking you, an extreme solution is to grab the antlers and wrestling it to the ground, but this is rare and dangerous.
  • For Moose, you need to talk to them softly, not loudly, while slowly backing away. Like you are trying to calm them down. Don’t panic if they make a few bluff charges. Just keep backing away, hands in the air, speaking to them as if they were are suicide bomber who’s not sure they want to kill themselves.

protect yourself from bugs.

The main problem bugs during hunting season are ticks, mosquitoes and chiggers. Some areas don’t have this problem at all; others have a brief storm of them before colder winter sets in and solves the problem, particularly in North America.

  • Treat hunting season like it’s tick season. Avoid tall, grassy areas where you can, wear long-sleeved, long-legged clothing with boots, and treat your gear and clothing with permethrin, which kills ticks.
  • Walk in the center of trails, to avoid ticks on grassy stalks.
  • Be aware that ticks may drop off recently killed animals. If you’re a hunter, when you dress or transport animals, know that ticks are looking for a new host.
  • Chigger bites are most common in the spring and fall months. They are very tiny members of the arachnid family that live in tall weeds and grass. Wear long sleeves, and long pants. Add insect repellent to the tops of your boots, shirt neck, cuffs, and your waistband.

Turkeys hunters?

Yes, turkey hunters. They are a whole ‘nother situation to protect yourself against. These basic rules also work for hunters of other flying creatures and tree-born animals:

  • Make human sounds. Most turkey hunters are focussed on the blue and red colors, and the gobbling and wing sounds turkeys make. But don’t assume they will recognize you, even with bright clothing. Sing a song, yell, shout; make any sound absolutely different from that of a turkey. Play your iPod!
  • A Note About Etiquette: If you find yourself hiking or camping in an area that hunters are allowed to hunt in, and you have identified yourself as a hiker or camper to them, don’t make noise that unnecessarily disturbs wildlife. In that area, they have the right to hunt.

hunters vs. hunters.

These safety tips can keep hunters safe from what they are hunting, and from each other, and from themselves:

  • Take a hunter education course and get certified, no matter where you are. Since these courses have been introduced in the last 50 years or so, hunter-related injuries have decreased dramatically. Even if it’s not mandatory, do the responsible thing and take this course.  It teaches you ways to be responsible in the wild.
  • You need to treat every gun and bow as if it was loaded.
  • Don’t point at anything you don’t intend to shoot, even if you know your weapon isn’t loaded.
  • Wait until the game is in your sights and you are ready to shoot before you put your finger on the trigger.
  • Don’t just focus on the game you are going to shoot–check beyond the game and make sure nothing is there that you don’t want dead.

There are many more rules that make your hunting, hiking or camping trip safe during hunting season, but if you follow the rules outlined above, your time in the wilderness will be a lot safer. Most important of all–you’ll come home safe and sound, with a lot of great, great memories!

 

We Have A Brand-New Facebook Page!

camp site
This is the photo we chose to feature on our new page. It’s from our camp site in Hope, BC

If you visit here regularly, you may have noticed a Facebook widget added to the right of the page recently.  That’s our new Facebook page link, and it’s a great way to keep up with Camping and Hiking Ideas posts, pages, announcements and everyone who loves camping that visits this website! You don’t even have to go to the Facebook page to keep up with any new posts there, either–just scroll down on the FB display on the right of this page.

I was pretty intimidated at first about getting a page up and running. But–

I’m delighted to have figured out how to create that page; it turns out that it was easier than I thought it would be.  Drop in and tell us about your outdoor life. Going camping? Fill us in on the details! Found a great new hiking trail? Let us know! Post your camping, hiking, fishing, wilderness photos! The sky is the limit. Literally; if you have photos or videos about the sky, include it on our Facebook page.

Got a question or request? That’s wonderful–post it anywhere here on this website or on the Facebook page, or both! Our page is on it’s way; it’s a brand-new baby, and as we grow, so will the page. I can hardly wait to see what all of you have to say about your outdoor lives.  It will be a pleasure to interact with you on a more personal level.

It’s going to be great. How could it not be? It will be filled with you people, who like to spend time outside. You’re the best! And do you know why? You’re the best because your door is always open.