It’s Only Natural

Locksley at Gander Lake

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. πŸ˜‰ 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
  • Map
  • 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.

4 Replies to “It’s Only Natural”

  1. After 11 years in Florida, my family and I will be moving back home to Ontario, and boy am I looking forward to Canadian Tire, Tim Horton’s, and hearing people say, eh! Thanks for your post today!

  2. I would absolutely recommed swapping the AA flashlight for something much more powerful in the same form factor – the SureFire U2 ultra LED light. http://www.surefire.com/maxexp/main/co_disp/displ/prrfnbr/24187/sesent/00

    Choice of light levels (and corresponding battery life) and virtually indestructible. Never have to worry about bulbs going out on you. I’ve had the L4 (with 1 hr of super bright output) for over a year and have only changed the batteries once.

  3. Pingback: Sporting Outdoors

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