Imagine my surprise when I learned that a local “demonstration forest” has scores of wonderful paths with plenty of placards explaining flora and fauna, as well as a very rough-hewn trail, miles long, that winds up and down through primeval and almost untouched landscape down along the side of a very large lake. The trail is covered by overgrown vegetation, large fallen trees, bog, moss, wildflowers, roots and rocks, and even animal tracks and scat. A couple of days ago, I took my faithful hound Locksley and meandered down to the rocky lakeshore, had a lunch, and then took some photographs of the flowers and landscape. It was very peaceful: not a man-made sound or sight anywhere. Mind you, the mosquitos along the way were hellish, but I like to think of the hundreds I inhaled as a little extra protein to help with the workout.
Just to change the pace a little, here is a list of my daypack gear I’m taking into the woods nowadays. Note, no Day-Runner or Palm to be found. 😉 Links are to Amazon, because most people reading this don’t have the benefit of nearby Canadian Tire (well, outside of Canada).
- Northern Escape daypack with four large pockets, many with “subpockets”, and a mesh side pocket for a water bottle — inexpensive ($30 CDN at Canadian Tire) but water resistant, rugged and fully adjustable
- Cheap Tilley hat knock-off ($10 CDN from Canadian Tire)
- Suunto Navigator compass with mirror
- Victoronix Huntsman Swiss Army Knife — just the right combo of usefulness and size; includes knife, scissors, small saw and a little pair of tweezers (very important, with all the rose and raspberry bushes here)
- Emergency whistle
- Insulated water bottle
- Bic lighter and a couple blocks of firestarter (not likely to be used)
- Small first aid kit with antibiotics, painkillers, bandages, moleskins (no, not a moleskine), water purification tablets, and so forth
- Paper and pencil
- AA battery Mag flashlight
- Small, lightweight, folding Bushnell binoculars (in case with belt loop)
- Small yellow camp towel, in ziplock
- Toilet paper
- Emergency blanket (the well-packed silver plastic variety)
- Small or lightweight book (currently the inexpensive Dover edition of Woodcraft and Camping by Nessmuk or Camping and Woodcraft by Horace Kephart, turn-of-the-century manuals by the master woodsmen, even if they weren’t creative in their titles)
- Lunch, usually a sandwich in a ziplock, plus maybe a granola, dried fruit or peanut butter snack
- My Leatherman Wave in a leather sheath (because I never go anywhere without it)
- Emergency rain poncho (the lightweight plastic variety folded not much larger than two matchboxes) — a garbage bag is a great substitute
- Insect repellent (with 23-25% DEET) — quite necessary in this season
- Sometimes my Canon Digital Rebel 300D with wide-angle and/or telephoto lens (plus lens cloth, extra memory card, a towel to wrap it, and so on)
- A few plastic bags, ziplocks and drawstring sacks, just in case I need waterproofing for anything, like the camera
The whole kit, excluding the camera, is just a few pounds… perfect for a lightweight daytime hiking sortie. It’s easy to get carried away and want to bring all the latest high-tech (and often heavy) hiking and camping equipment, but the above does me just fine, and –combined with a little bushcraft knowledge– it handles most situations without a problem, at least here in Newfoundland.