There is an ever-growing interest in the great outdoors. It is quite
heartening to see people get close to nature. However, many are still lacking in awareness of the proper care for the wilderness.
And so, as more and more people take interest in mountain climbing
and other similar sports, there must be a continued education on the proper way of treating nature. There are such ways to
enjoy the thrill of the great outdoors without substantially withdrawing from the environment.
One word for all campers to keep in mind: LOW-IMPACT. No matter how
much advances there may be in the realm of outdoor gadgetry and gears, the basic ethics of low-impact camping must not change:
Take nothing but pictures; leave nothing but footprints; kill nothing
Campers ensue the greatest impact on the environment at the campgrounds.
Therefore, one must take utmost care in choosing a campsite and make efficient use of it.
Take home garbage. Do not leave any refuse from cooking and camping
at the campsite (as well as along the trail).
As is, where is. Leave the camp ground exactly the way you found it.
Campfire's nice. But do not cut down trees for firewood. Use fallen
Detergent-free Washing. Wash dishes by cleaning first the remnants
off the plates and utensils and drying them with cloth (or tissue) or sand, when available. Then rinse with water away from
any body of water.
Go Organic. Use biodegradable soaps and shampoos
Silence please. Keep voice tone and volume at a minimum, some other
creatures need their rest, too.***
CHOOSING A CAMPSITE
Enjoying the great outdoors depends mostly in finding a good campsite.
For one thing, the itinerary should clearly point out that the campsite must be reached by mid-afternoon in order that the
camp is set and cooking dinner is well under way before nightfall. This would also provide ample time for checking the surroundings
for possible dangers.
Select an established campground as much as possible. If an established
campsite can not be located, choose a place conveniently away from the trail and try not to disturb much the present environment.
***Most campsites require that a permit be secured ahead of time.
Permits are usually issued by regional representatives of DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) or by officials
of the locality. Make sure that you and your group register your names so that mountain rangers and local officials know where
to go looking in case of any danger.***
Tent. Place your tent on relatively
flat terrain, sheltered, and dry. Do not pitch your tent near the inside bend of a river because this area is prone to flooding.
Erect your tent with its entrance facing the leeward. You have a choice in erecting your tent either you set it up under trees
or open space. The latter is preferable since after a rainfall the sun comes up and everything is dried quickly. Under trees
however will only save you if there is heavy downpour but will leave wet for hours since the trees is still dripping the rainwater.
Latrine. Building a latrine is not that
quite common to mountaineers and backpackers as well. Usually when the number of people exceeds 12 by all means, designate
a common place away from any water source to prevent surface-water contamination. Check for wind direction. Be sure that you
dig your latrine downwind.
Fire. For mountaineers, it is not advisable
to build a campfire. It will just stress the already damaged environs. Locate the fire close enough to the tent area in order
to smoke out insects without creating any risk of setting the tent on fire.
Water. Fetch drinking and cooking water
well upstream and away from any campsite.
An ideal campsite would be one with available source of water for
drinking and cooking. Actually, it is one of the criteria in choosing a campsite. In the absence of rivers and lakes, water
might still be available in the not so obvious places.
Where there is an extensive growth of mosses at the edge of a mountain
means that this area has cut across a groundwater source and could possibly be a source of water. River crevices or natural
ponds can be source of rainwater. Extra caution, however, must be taken in getting utility water from this origin because
these are stagnant water sources. Water can also be located under dried riverbeds.
One must learn the art of pitching a tent quickly and sturdily. This
will be certainly necessary in cases when there is a storm coming.
Steps in erecting your Tent
1. Clear the ground of any sharp objects like stones and tree branches.
Free the surface of any bumps by spreading ample amount of dried leaves or grasses. Then spread over this area a ground sheet
to provide extra covering against any moisture from the ground to enter the tent,
2. Lay down the tent over the ground sheet with the entrance facing
the leeward of the wind. Quickly peg down all the corners. Make sure that the pegs are secured enough into the ground.
3. Insert all the poles in their proper position and maneuver the
tent canvass making the tent stand.
4. Cover the tent with the flysheet. Secure the flysheet into the
ground ensuring that tension is equalized around it.
Inside your tent. Organize your tent in a manner that you can
reach almost anything without leaving the comforts of your sleeping bag. (With schematic drawing of inside the tent)
In places where there is stiff or hard surface, where the pegs could
not penetrate, use large rocks, onto which the tent will be tied.
Do not allow the tent and the flysheet to touch in order to maintain
an insulating layer of air in between the two.***
Fire building is a basic technique all campers must learn. Its importance
is not only limited to cooking (especially now that portable stoves are available), but to a large extent on survival. From
a source of heat in cold weather, to smoking away insects and to restraining some wild animals to enter the campsite and to
signaling positions in order to aid search and rescue teams.
However, campers must check for any restrictions on making a fire
in a particular campsite. For as much as it is useful, it can be rendered dangerous in places, which are
prone to forest fires.
Starting a fire is different from lighting a fire. Although our basic
concern here is the former, it is important to note that there are technologies available now which far more efficient than
rubbing two stones together. There is the basic wooden match and butane lighters, never ever leave for the mountains without
them. Magnifying glass but this can only be used during daytime. And in very damp conditions, the use of a magnesium fire
starter is one safety accessory that must be made available in any camping trips.
Whatever method of lighting a fire you should choose, the next
steps in building a fire is as basic as ABC.
First, one must gather more than enough materials to sustain the fire.
Fire ingredients include the following:
Tinder. Dried tree bark, twigs and other smaller pieces of wood which
are highly combustible. Kindling. Dried leaves and small sticks not thicker than an inch, which is, place at a pyramidal position
over the tinder. Wood. Branches and logs which are placed loosely over the tinder and kindling; starting with a slightly larger
piece of wood than the kindling and adding much bigger wood in intervals.
Then dig a circular trench not deeper than 30 cm., which would provide
protection from the wind for the tinder fire. Place on the center of the trench a generous amount of tinder material. Build
a teepee shape with the use of kindling materials. Balancing four sticks in a pyramidal position and adding more and even
larger sticks in the same manner does the teepee shape. Strike a match or use a lighter to light up the tinder materials.
Add more tinder and kindling material until the fire stabilizes and is able to burn the bigger sticks.
When the teepee catches fire, it will then collapse into a bed of
ember, which can be fed, with larger pieces of wood.
Eating Outdoor and Food Preparation (Wilderness Kitchen)
Eating in the wilderness is much affected by time. Main meals are
usually breakfast and dinner. A heavy breakfast helps to get you going throughout the activities of the day. Short snacks
shall be taken intermittently along the trail. A quick lunch will sustain your strength until the end of the day. Do not continue
without taking enough sustenance along the trail because fatigue will suddenly fall on you. A substantial and hot meal at
night is the best way to replace the calories lost during the trek.
It is always a great sensation to start the day with something hot;
hot chocolate, coffee, tea, milk. Hot drinks keeps you company while you are cooking up a large breakfast. Rice, dried fish,
eggs or Champorado with processed meat.
It is advisable to take little but often small ’meals’
along the trail. Jelly-ace is a sweet source of sugars necessary for giving energy to your body. Fruits like oranges, apples
or singkamas give sugars as well as fluids to your body. Salty food like nuts and chips are also necessary to prevent muscle
cramps. Taking in salts also re-hydrates your body.
Most of the time, lunch will be taken along the trail, the most typical
is having soups and sandwiches. This would require minimal preparation and your body would not be required be as full as it
did during breakfast time.
The biggest meal of the day. Usually, you have the luxury of time
preparing for this meal. Hence, dinner must have a wide variety of food, a complete course; from soup to main meal to desert.
Make sure that you have had drank plenty of liquids before retiring
to bed to prevent dehydration. In cold conditions it is best to have a hot, highly sugared drink to keep you warm throughout
the night. It is also advisable to keep warm water ready in a flask for the hot drink of the next morning,
OUTDOOR CULINARY SKILLS
Golden rule is to bring enough food, but not too much. PLANNING the
menu is the biggest factor in making outdoor cooking a success. Make a plan as what to eat, how much of each ingredient to
bring, and who will be bringing the ingredients as well as the cutlery and plastic containers, plates, pots and pans and stove,
and do not forget the matches.
Some food items and spices must be kept handy in every trip. These
Stock Cubes Pepper Chili Rice
Onion Salt Garlic Egg
Safe Camping (Safety First, as Always)
In the premise that every precaution was taken in choosing a safe
campsite, one must then run a safe campsite.
Some safety precautions are:
- Keep fire at a conveniently far distance away from the tent.
- Do not cook inside the tent.
- Have a sand bucket readily available to put out the fire.
- Provide guide ropes in going to the latrine area and provide ample
- Rope off any unsafe areas.
SAFEGUARDING YOUR FOOD.
The smell of food might attract insects, birds, and mammals’
alike ensuing danger to the inhabitants of the campsite. Make sure that food is sealed in plastic bags and left hanging from
a tree branch.
Keep a close guard on some pests, which may cause harm or may be a
risk to health.
Flies and Mosquitoes are known to be disease carriers. As much
as possible prevent them from getting in contact with your skin and food.
Ants usually come in groups. Always look out for ant nests before
you pitch camp.
Scorpion is known to be highly poisonous. Make sure that you always
shake your sleeping, boots and clothes as a measure to eject any presence of scorpions.
Snakes are quite a scary danger in the wilderness. When in doubt always
check your tent and sleeping bags for any presence of snakes.
Rats always go for your food. Take extra care not to leave food just
lying around the campsite.
As a last goodwill gesture to nature and to those who will follow
in the trail, ensure that all garbage had been picked up and packed out and taken home away from the wilderness. This etiquette
is known to almost everybody but is still often ignored. Unless we take on this responsibility by heart, the following damages
of overuse will overtake that which was once beautiful:
Barren, stripped land
Exposed tree roots
Downed plants, or absence of vegetation
Numerous firepits on a single campsite
Absence of ground wood for campfires
Scarred tree where branches have been torn away
Bottles, cans, and plastics, in or near sources of water.
*Clearing the campsite, some practical ways of maintaining the beauty
of the wilderness:
- Put out fire completely. Scatter the ashes and collect and take unburned
- Pack all rubbish in plastic bags and take it home
- Latrine must be filled in, returfed, and labeled to inform future
- Dismantle tent and leave site after your equipment is fully
WILDERNESS ETHICS (A REVIEW)
All climbers most especially those belonging to organized climbs should
strictly follow the wilderness ethics. Behavior of the group would reflect the kind of organization or the kind of leadership
the group has. Here is some internationally accepted wilderness ethics.
Prepare well. Know about your route
and the area. Take adequate food. Bring clothing that will keep you dry & comfortable. Know the basics of first aid, navigation
and minimum impact camping. Know what to do in case of overheating, hypothermia or landslide danger.
Local practices. Know the local practices
in the area. Respect local customs and traditions. Respect other people’s desire for privacy and solitude. Unnecessary
disturbances (noise and horseplay) should be avoided.
Trekking. While trekking into the wilderness
avoid widening the trail. Stay off the shoulder and walk in the middle of the trail. Suppress the desire to shortcut switchbacks.
Cutting switchbacks tramples vegetation and leads to erosion. Use established trail when possible. On rest breaks, select
a hardened area to absorb your impact. Select footwear appropriate for comfort, safety and the terrain. Heavy lug-soled boots
have an adverse impact on fragile terrain. Use light footwear in camp.
Camping. Select a level campsite with
adequate water runoff, and use a plastic sheet under your tent to stay dry without ditching. Locate your site at least 100
feet away from natural water sources. Generally, select a shelter site that has already been used, to eliminate further expansion
of the camp. Whenever possible, position your tent so it blends with the environment. Careful selection of campsite helps
preserve the atmosphere of solitude even in popular areas. Choose your site and use it lightly, leaving it in as natural state
Garbage. Carry out all of your non-biodegradable
garbage. Bury only biodegradable trash. Pick up litter as you encounter it. Burning of non-paper trash should be minimized
since complete cremation is difficult. Remember litter attracts more litter.
Sanitation. Use established latrines
if these are provided. Use a cat hole if there are no established latrines. Proceed with a trowel inn hand to an area at least
100 feet away from water sources trail and camp. After carefully removing the surface duff, dig a hole several inches into
the dirt. Replace the dirt and duff.
Washing yourself. Even biodegradable
soap is a stress on the environment, so do as much of your cleanup without soap. Try a soapless bath or clothes-wash, for
all but the most persistent dirt. When using soap, even biodegradable soap, wash yourself, your hair and your clothing at
least 100 meters away from water. Pour soapy water into highly absorbent ground. Brush your teeth well away from water sources.
Washing dishes. Try a soapless cleanup.
For health reasons, wash dishes with hot water when possible. Wash at least 100 meters away from natural water sources.