Do you have rules that you follow when you are hiking and camping alone? Those little things that you do to make it a little safer for yourself even if its as simply as sleeping with your boots on.
For years I have wandered off for days or even weeks at a time and hiked and camped in some beautiful and out of the way places but its always been in the back of my mind that I may get some night time visitors of the 2 legged kind. Over time a number of routines have set in that have become second nature to me and its only by thinking about my actions that I can actually identify them.
Choice of Camp Spot
Don’t often use a tent and just prefer to take a good quality sleeping bag and some sort of water proof sheet or trap, its a lot less to carry when climbing mountains and makes setting up camp for the night quick and allows me to move easily at a moments notice if I need to.
Number one habit before nightfall is to pick out my camping spot for the night then walk away and return just as its getting dark. This gives me less chance of being spotted getting ready for a nights sleep and gives more reassurance about not getting unwelcome guests.
Will get the camp ready for the night then sit quiet for 30 minutes before sleep to see if anybody comes to have a nose around. When camping on one of the UK’s many mountains or national parks I always make sure that I am a good distance from any track or road so as not to be disturbed by any nocturnal walkers or runners (you would be surprised at how many people walk around the countryside and mountains in the dark).
There are many reasons for moving camp half way through the night the most common ones being drastic change in weather, unwelcome visitors, annoying animals (sheep are probably most noisy animals on the planet and sometimes just wont leave you alone) and depending where you are sleeping there is always a chance of getting moved off somebody’s land.
Always leaving my boots on I gather all my personal items and electronics (camera, GPS etc) then pack them in a water proof dry pack the gets put in side my sleeping bag. Rucksack is waterproof by usually putting it in a black bin bag and this gets tide to the top of my sleeping bag so I can use it as a pillow (no chance of anybody making of with that during the night without waking me up). My big hefty Maglite torch is the last thing that goes inside my sleeping bag always within easy reach so I can get hold of it quickly.
This way I know where everything is and never have to go scraping around for any of the essentials in case of a quick exit during the darkness.
The next day
I have some sort of sense of when the first hint of sun comes up over the horizon and always wake up at the time of day even if I am buried deep down in my mummy bag (saves missing out on some beautiful sun rises). First thing I do is have a quick check of all my possessions to make sure everything is were I left it.
The early mornings are where you are most likely to get attention from dogs as there owners take them for a good walk. For the most part it is never a problem and once the dog has had a quick sniff and a bark or two they are running off after the apologetic owners but have had the odd time when bouncy dogs have jumped on me when in the sleeping bag and it takes a few seconds to realize what is happening.
After packing everything away in the rucksack I will move everything away from where I was sleeping and walk around to check nothing is left. Always been a firm believer of the saying “leave nothing but the dent in the ground” when out camping and like to make sure all rubbish is collected and I don’t have to walk back a few miles when I noticed that something from my kit is missing.
Too many times hiking in stunning countryside I have come across whats left of someones lunch scattered around with the wind spreading rubbish all down the side of the mountain. At the end of my trips I usually have a rubbish bag filled with other peoples trash to take off the mountain.
Do you have any routines for camping?
We would like to hear from you.