Chapter 1 THE ESCAPE
A great camping trip can be as simple as seeking nearby grounds where you can pitch a shelter, however grand or modest. You don’t have to venture too far, nor do you have to brave uncomfortable, cold, or damp conditions. If you’re missing a sleeping bag, you can still experience the thrill of nature while tucked into the warmth of a wool blanket. The simple act of sleeping outside is already an experience in its own right—a “microadventure,” to use the English adventurer Alastair Humphreys’ phrase, where the idea of getting away from it all is easily achieved. And if you’re new to camping, your first night outside might be in your backyard; your second, perhaps on the outskirts of town. You’ll be hardpressed to find a city or town in the world without some forest, field, or garden ready to welcome you. The Comfort of Camping
When we camp, we seek out little luxuries and reminders of home in nature. We pack tokens—items from our homes to help put us at ease while we’re away—into a backpack, or a car trunk, and head off to live outside for a short while. Taking the dog for a walk, reading by the fireplace, cooking dinner—you can transpose these everyday activities to the great outdoors for greater enjoyment in the wilderness. Your dog may not be running in the park but in the woods, your stove will be a campfire, and you’ll get to dine under the stars . . .
This chapter is about easy access to the wild life and the not-so-secret doors that lead to memorable camping trips. Allow these stories, tips, and testimonies inspire and encourage you to take a little break from your ever more hectic days. It may prove challenging to get started, but you’ll return refreshed and appeased after living the slow life. Q&A THE CAMPING MINDSET WITH MASON STREHL
Mason Strehl is a Washington State-based outdoor photographer. For him, the true appeal of camping is being with friends. Mason tells us more about how he approaches outdoor life; by keeping one leg in his home life and the other in his camp life, he can jump from one to the other very easily. So he constantly seeks out inspiration for new spots to explore and he’s always refreshing the weather forecast website. How often do you camp? And what has been your favorite experience?
I go camping about twice a month. Life can get very busy but it’s important to step back and take time to reset in nature. I prefer to go during the week or over the holidays, as it’s always less crowded. Summertime is especially great for hanging outside, but lately I’ve been getting very interested in winter camping. What do you expect from camping?
Nature is where I’m happiest--nothing beats waking up with fresh air in your lungs on a cold morning. So in the process of trying to spend every minute I can outdoors, it makes sense I would sleep out there when possible. I am a strong believer that people get too comfortable in their everyday life; camping provides an escape from comfort and makes you feel alive. Do you camp with friends?
I often camp alone, but being outdoors with friends and likeminded people is an amazing and irreplaceable feeling. I also love teaching people about the outdoors: how to best find sites, build fires, pitch tents, and everything that comes with camping. All of it is an art, and not many people know how to do it. How far do you go?
I usually camp fairly close to home--within a three hour’s drive. I do this because often my camp trips are impulsive. I keep all my camp gear in my truck, and may decide to go camping only an hour or two before I leave. What do you need to make a camp trip great?
There are three things that make camp trips great: campfires, friends, and beer. If you have at least two of those things you’ll have an amazing time, but all three is heaven. Mason’s essentials for a weekend trip:
• Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight Tent
• Zenbivy sleeping bag
• Thermarest Prolite Sleeping Pad
• Canon 5D mk III camera SWEDEN: THE CAPITAL OF CAMPING
Many countries could vie for the title of Camping Capital of the World--for their legendary trails, their breathtaking scenery, or the diversity of their wilderness. The United States, Canada, Argentina, or Germany—to name just a few—would be good contenders. But there’s one country on the Arctic’s doorstep where, beyond all those wonders, another defining feature rules: the freedom to roam.
Much of Swedish culture is based on the right of common access to nature—one that’s legally enshrined in Sweden’s constitution. Anyone can decide to pitch a tent in the country’s vast open spaces. Maybe you’re still thinking your country can hold its own. But Swedish law goes even further, allowing you to venture onto private property and spend a night there without the owner’s permission.
But with all rights come responsibilities. In this case, it’s your responsibility to preserve and protect nature, to leave the land you traverse as untouched as it was when you arrived. For the Swedes, the wilderness is their home, so they naturally want to take care of its flora and fauna, water, rocks, and minerals.
The freedom to roam, or allemansrätten
, applies to all visitors, not just to Swedish citizens. If you’re traveling in Sweden, don’t miss out on the opportunity to spend a night in the great outdoors. Nature can be found everywhere in this beautiful country—from its wildest, most remote corners to its biggest metropolises. If you have more time, try hiking the Kungsleden (King of Trails) or near Trollsjön (Troll Lake).
Q&A HOW TO FIND A CAMPSITE WITH ALYSSA RAVASIO
In the United States, where approximately sixty percent of the land is privately owned, Alyssa Ravasio, founder of the California-based startup HipCamp, is unleashing the power of private land so that anyone, wherever they live, can find a spot to pitch a tent and reconnect with nature.
This is the mission of HipCamp, which grew out of the frustration Alyssa felt one day as she watched “gorgeous, glassy, barreling waves” crashing against the Big Sur coast at Andrew Molera State Park. “When I actually arrived at the campground,” she said, “I found out that even though I’d read so much about this place, I had not learned that it was home to a great surf break.” So Alyssa watched forlorn as amazing waves broke along the shore without her—for this surf bum had left her board at home.
Finding a good place to camp shouldn’t have been so complicated. After all, we have access to excellent local reviews of restaurants and hotels before we book a trip—why shouldn’t we have access to the same level of information about camp sites? So she poured all her energy into connecting potential campers to landowners and locals who know the land. What exactly are the kinds of grounds we can camp on using Hipcamp?
From nature preserves to ranches to farms—a huge range, really. If it’s a place people are going to explore nature, it can be on Hipcamp. Anyone who takes good care of their land and who is interested in sharing it with other nature lovers (and earning some income too!). What are some of the day-to-day results of increased camping?
I think when people spend time in nature, they become better versions of themselves. They remember what matters. New science shows us people become less stressed, more creative, and more grateful with time in nature. It’s also the key to developing a reciprocal relationship with the rest of the natural world: When nature is giving so much to you, you can’t help but want to help take care of it. Camping is sometimes hard on nature.
You have to be smart about minimizing your impact on nature. Especially in popular areas, it’s important to follow marked trails and the like. But it’s so important to get people outside and caring about nature. People protect what they love. How will Hipcamp affect crowded national park campsites?
We are definitely interested in spreading out and redistributing use. It’s better for people and the environment. Although sometimes people stay at a Hipcamp so they can also visit a national park like Yosemite or Yellowstone. Do you have a message for campers?
Nature is our home! By spending time outside, you can improve your mental, physical, and spiritual well-being. And by staying on Hipcamps, you can learn all about how people are taking care of their land, and in turn, you’ll see a future for humanity where people are part of nature—living with it in harmony.
Copyright © 2019 by Luc Gesell. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.