Going deep into nature, away from civilization, for an extended period of time, has become a very important act for me and many others. There are a few reasons why we would decide to leave the comfort, and stability of society for a short period of time.
I plan to get into some of the main reasons, and much more in this article dedicated to backcountry camping. If you are not familiar with backcountry camping, or primitive camping, it is similar to camping.
The only difference is you have no reserved site, and you are far away from other campers. You have no water hookups, toilets, showers, or anything else that might resemble a regular campsite. You are alone out in the wilderness with nothing, except for what you can provide for yourself from natural resources.
The act of going alone or in a group into the wilderness for an extended period of time is nothing new or exciting in the world of outdoor activities. It wasn’t even seen as an activity a short time ago, but as a way of life. In some cases, it still is a way of life for a small group of people who choose to reject the progress of society and live completely off the grid. They rely only on nature to provide for them what they need to live.
You can find these people in the harshest climates all over the world. The further we move away from nature and more towards technology. The more popular this act of finding a simpler way to live becomes. These people are seen as crazy by most, but I encourage you to think about your own life for a second. Have you ever thought of getting out of the “rat race”, and living off the land in a completely self sustaining manner? I have had more than my fair share of these thoughts as well. I’m not suggesting that you do that, but what I would suggest is taking some time to unplug once in a while. Taking a backcountry camping trip is a great way to do that.
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Backcountry Camping: What is it?
I can’t think of a more simple, but difficult and rewarding activity as backcountry camping. Its simplicity is found in the fact that you don’t need anything other than some unoccupied land, a few tools, and a shelter. If you are a survivalist you won’t even have your own tools or a pre-built shelter. That’s for people who have spent a lot of time honing their skills in the backcountry.
The difficulty factor begins pretty much at the very beginning of your journey. It makes you realize that in regular everyday life we rely on someone else for one hundred percent of our needs. We never have to worry about where we will get water, food, or shelter. These three things are the most important basic human needs, and they are always provided to us through little effort. That frees up the mind to create all sorts of new problems, and can create anxiety.
This is part of the reason more people than ever nowadays are experiencing depression and anxiety. It is important that we talk about different ways to improve our mental health, and getting out into nature is a great way to do that.
I could go on and on about the benefits of nature for your mental and physical health. Let’s get into some practical tips you can use if you’re planning a backcountry adventure.
Where Should You Go?
The first thing on your list might be to find a destination to backcountry camp. You will want to spend your time somewhere with spectacular views. The destination where you choose to go to backcountry camping is up to you. Some people enjoy the mountains, the desert, open fields, or someplace around rivers and streams. You should backcountry camp on land with some resources available for your use.
A water source, a source of food, and terrain for shelter are all things to keep in mind when choosing your destination. The most popular destinations for backcountry camping are within our nation’s national parks. National Parks are a great choice to go backcountry camping. This is due to the scenery, and park resources available to you find yourself in an emergency. Every park has rules and regulations when it comes to backcountry camping. Permits, rules, and regulations can be found at visitor centers when you first enter the park.
Anyone Can Do It
One of the best things about backcountry camping is anyone can do it. You are not limited by age, location, economic status, or physical ability. This does not mean it will be for everyone, backcountry camping has its unique challenges. Being pulled out of the fast pace of society and put into nature with no contact with civilization is hard on your mind and body.
My advice for your first trip would be to make it short, sweet, and somewhere not too far away from civilization. I say this because although backcountry camping is rewarding. Backcountry camping can also be very difficult and dangerous. If you have an emergency of any kind you will likely be far from any medical services and not have any cell service. This is why you should always have a plan if you or someone in your party gets hurt, lost, or you run out of supplies.
How Should You Prepare?
Make sure to check the weather in the area you will be going, and be prepared if conditions change. You should also be aware of any dangerous wildlife in your area. If you are staying in a national park they will have certain rules and regulations in place to keep its wildlife and visitors safe. If you don’t you will have to do your own research. It’s a good idea to carry a first aid kit, basic survival gear, a map and compass, and search and rescue supplies.
Don’t rely on your phone to be able to contact help, many remote areas will not have cell service. Nature can be unforgiving and we should always treat it with the respect it deserves. To ensure the safety of you and your party before any backcountry adventure you should plan your trip out, and bring plenty of supplies. Make sure you carry emergency equipment, and let someone know where you’re going and when you plan on returning.
I’ve been on several backcountry trips, ranging from a single day all the way up to a week long. They were all difficult and I never had a trip where at a certain point I was ready for it to be over before it was scheduled to be.
Why Should We Backcountry Camp?
Although, I have never come out of a trip where I did not experience significant benefits to my mental and physical health. To me these trips act as a time to get out of the rush of everyday life, then reflect on how I’m living my life at the time. Time alone with no distractions has a positive impact on our minds. We are so used to being stimulated all day long by technology. If we have no distractions for a long period of time it gives our mind time to think deeper. To get down to the root of our problems or our successes.
Also in addition to self reflection, every trip increased my overall confidence. You have to be confident in yourself if you’re going to complete a backcountry journey. There is no one else to look to for help when you encounter unexpected problems. Problems that seem to happen a lot and without warning on every backcountry trip. I cannot think of a better activity to grow yourself as a person than going backcountry camping.
Backcountry camping is one of the best ways to find adventure. It allows us a chance to get a taste of what life was like before our time, and the struggles of those who lived before us. It takes away all material possessions we cling to in our lives, and teaches us independence.
So that when we return to our lives we have a deeper appreciation for everything around us. You definitely will not be comfortable for most, or even all your backcountry trips but that’s ok. Often the best things for our lives are things that are not comfortable. Things that are hard and difficult in the moment, but when you finish them you can look back on them with pride and joy.
Backcountry camping can be one of those things, and I hope it is as beneficial to your life as it has been to mine.