It’s that time of year again! Usually coinciding with my spring bike tune-up is the process of getting my camping gear out and planning some weekend camping and hiking trips for the summer and fall. This year, I’m planning a camping trip a little farther abroad – to BC and Alberta – and I always love the process of getting the proper gear together, planning routes and meals, and then adapting to the inevitable changes in plans that make each journey unique. If you haven’t planned a camping trip before, there are lots of resources and checklists available online, like this one from Parks Canada (available in Chinese, Tagalog, Punjabi and Spanish as well). If you’re completely new to camping, it’s worth heading down to a local outdoor supply store to talk about your needs with staff. Outdoor enthusiasts are typically keen to share their passion, and get you outfitted for excursions big or small. Websites like MEC’s also feature in-depth product reviews from other customers, which will help you identify important features and issues before making a purchase. Err on the side of simplicity! And try searching Kijiji or Facebook groups like the Manitoba Hiking/Camping Gear Swap for used gear once you have a better idea what you’re looking for.
Dreams of moss and old growth forests have me thinking of the impact we have on natural systems through our interactions with them. Stewardship necessitates a complex system of care, and our individual habits form the basis of this care. We’ve already compiled a few suggestions to help you Leave no Trace during your adventures, and our friends at CPAWS Manitoba remind us that robust ecosystems can no longer be taken for granted. A little knowledge goes a long way in walking lightly upon the earth. Plan ahead! The time you spend preparing builds the awareness you’ll need to be a considerate camper.
Of course, we need not leave the province for beautiful camping and hiking. Manitoba Parks has compiled a handy Camper’s Guide to get you started, including contact information for Travel Manitoba and Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship (now Sustainable Development). Facebook groups like Hiking Manitoba and Manitoba Fishing/Camping/Outdoors are a couple great online communities to get ideas from as well. Even a car is optional, as Beth and Jessie remind us through their Bird’s Hill bike adventures. Great resources for those of you looking for an accessible bike tour camping trip!
So dust off that ‘ol Coleman, patch the hole in your sleeping bag, and commit to your next outdoor adventure. The sooner you start, the better prepared you’ll be, and the feeling of anticipation is a wonderful motivation! …and the closer you’ll be to enjoying ‘Smoreos‘ over the campfire.
Have a favourite trip, or camping suggestions that served you well? Please share in the comments, so that others may benefit.