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.

    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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