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Thursday, October 10, 2013

SIDETRACKED GUIDES: WILD CAMPING (PART ONE) | Sidetracked


Camping wild is not just about camping high on a hill – it’s about finding a place to lay your head for the night which is as much part of the experience you will cherish in two decades when you open up your moleskine as actually getting some sleep. It should bestow on you, if you are willing to sacrifice a little comfort, and to plan a little in advance, an experience almost unparalleled in the world of outdoor pursuits and adventure travel. There are few feelings as liberating, thrilling and rewarding as being immersed in your surroundings in the way camping wild allows you to do, whether those surroundings are a Scottish mountainside, the gardens of an ancient French Chateau or the simple arable land belonging to an Uzbek farmer. In this 3 part guide, Andrew Mazibrada looks at all the essential elements of camping wild, whether on two feet, two wheels or in a packraft. 

 My first night camping wild was a disaster. I was delayed out of London and paid a taxi driver more money than I care to admit to take me to the start of the trail because of the late hour. The night sky had the unearthly sable colour you might associate with Hades’ underworld and the rain descended in violent, relentless slashes. I walked by the light of a headtorch for an hour before finding a suitable place to camp. And by suitable I mean the only place within a mile that was not boggy or covered by a sheen of thick, muddy rainwater. My dual skin tent pitched inner first and, no matter how quickly I erected the inner, it was soaked before I could get the fly on. I crawled in, the rain dripping off every part of my body. Fortunately, by luck rather design, I had a synthetic fill sleeping bag so, damp as it was, it was still warm enough. I dumped my wet clothes in the porch of my tent and pulled on some warm, dry clothes before slipping into my bag. I was so exhausted that even the thunderous percussion of the rain on the fly was not enough to keep me awake.

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