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Chapter 4: Camping in the Backcountry


[wind blowing] – Camping. You disappear into
the landscape. [soft piano music] And…
it just feels really good. At the end of a long day, we look for a place to camp
for the night. I mean, something like this. There’s no designated campsites. You go where you want. Let’s go this way a little bit,
then. We look for a site with good
visibility in all directions. We want to see wildlife
approaching well in advance. This kind of area isn’t looking
too bad, eh? We come across
an open gravel bar with all the features
of a good campsite. – Do we have the map
we can check? – Okay. – Oh, yeah, you can, like, see it parallels the river. – This looks like a pretty great
campsite because it’s flat;
it’s nice hard gravel, so we won’t have to destroy
any vegetation to camp here. There’s good water
right nearby, and there’s great visibility. – Yeah, there’s a lot
of good spots. – We consider the layout
of our camp before we set up. Camping in this area,
the water is back there so we can cook back there too, and then we can store bear cans
back upstream. Our site is well over
a half mile away from the road and out of view of the road. Visible from the road.
– Yeah. – We don’t see any signs
of prior human use, and the surface of the ground
is hard and durable so we shouldn’t cause
any lasting damage. Most of whatever incidental
impacts you’re going to have on the landscape are gonna
happen in the location where you camp. It’s like, wow, it really is
up to me to make sure that I’m doing
the least impactful thing, because nobody’s telling me
where to camp, where to wash my dishes,
where to put my food, or anything. We plan separate areas
for the tents, the cook site,
and the bear cans, all within site and at least
100 yards away from each other. The 100-yard golden triangle: you have your tent and then
at least 100 yards away, and if you count it out,
that’s really, really far. You’d be surprised. You cook and eat your food and brush your teeth. And then at least 100 yards
away from both of those places is where you store your
bear can. About 100 yards. And then are we gonna cook
further back that way? – Yeah, or–
– Kind of do it in a line? The whole goal is to avoid
bears associating people, tents,
backpacks, bear cans with food. – Bears are really
curious animals. They’re constantly in search
of food. – As soon as a bear gets
some food from one tent, it’s gonna check out
every tent it sees for the rest of its life
because it knows; they’re smart. They’re like, “Well,
that happened once. “It might happen again. “So every tent I see,
I’m gonna check it out because it was delicious
last time.” – Your actions can change
the behavior of these animals drastically, so it’s so
important to respect the fact that you are just merely
passing through. – We’re gonna cook dinner. – It’s dinnertime?
– Whoo! [indistinct chatter] – We all head over
to the cook site to prepare dinner. [laughter] – Oh, yeah.
– Further back. – Yeah, to go into
the waterfall. – Our cook site has
a clear line of sight in all directions. We have to be especially alert
while cooking. Bears have great noses
and will be curious about interesting smells. – Sounded like a female voice. – Yeah.
Yeah, we should watch it. – You know, it’s like,
“I’m safe; I’m at home. I’m cooking.
What could be better?” But you’re still out there; you’re still in the home of all
these other wild animals. We take out only the food
that we’ll need, keeping Ziploc bags
and the bear cans close by so that if an animal
approaches, we can quickly seal the food
in a plastic bag and get it back into
the container. We eat our dinner
at the cook site well away from our tents. [indistinct chatter] [indistinct chatter] After dinner we clean up
the cook site. As everyone knows,
some really good cheese sauce. If we do have extra scraps
of food, we put them into a waste bag
that we lock in the bear can and take with us when we leave. – The one that’s not filled
with beans and rice. – We move away from the stream
to do our scrubbing. We want to avoid attracting
wildlife and contaminating the streams. We don’t use soap since
we really don’t need it and we disperse the gray water
widely. Quick flick. I think some people do, like,
a wide sprinkle, but I like a quick flick. – Like this. – I just get some rocks
in there. – Knowing we have
an early morning ahead of us, we’re ready to call it a night. You definitely want to brush
your teeth at your cook site, ’cause when you spit
that stuff out, that’s extra smells. And you want it to be
at your cook site, not around your tent. The best method for spitting out
your toothpaste is to really aerate it. Try to make it as much of a mist
as possible. The best toothbrush
performance of my life. [laughter] We make sure all of our food
and any scented items are stored in the bear cans. We place the bear cans
at their designated location at least 100 yards
from the tents, along with pots, pans, fuel,
and the cook stove. “Is my sunscreen in there? My hand sanitizer,
is that still in my pack?” It’s not with my food, but all
that stuff has to be collected up and put in
the bear can. Before I go to bed, there’s one
last thing to take care of. In the backcountry, proper
disposal of human waste is very important. – I look for good organic soil. – Make sure you are at least
100 feet away from a water source. – And so I always take
the top off and preserve it. – Dig a hole 6 go 8 inches
deep. – And you want to dig it into
organic soil so it biodegrades. – When finished, replace
the cover soil and vegetation to leave no trace for future
hikers or inquisitive animals. – Like it never even happened. – Pack out all toilet paper and feminine hygiene products. – There was one trip where
I actually spent 48 hours wishing in my head,
“Please stop raining. “Please just stop raining. Please just stop raining.” And it didn’t. – We have a lot of ground
to cover today, and we want to get
an early start. – Started raining at, like,
4:30, 5:00 yesterday. – Shaking of the last bits
of sleep, we start packing up. In the morning it’s like, “Okay. We’re doing this.” You will be dry again someday. You will be warm again. When cleaning up camp,
we challenge ourselves to leave as little trace
of our campsite as possible. We pack out all our garbage and make sure not a single
sign of our stay is left behind. Ghosting away; it’s like you
were never there. It’s like you just kind of
kissed the land that night and then you’re on your way. We set off for a new adventure
and a new day. [indistinct chatter] Seven years ago when I first
started camping was like, “Oh, man,” like,
“I’m so tiny. This is so big,” and now you still feel small,
of course, but now it’s more like,
“Oh, I’m being swallowed up,” and then it’s like
I’m disappearing into this, and that is so good. [birds chirping]

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