Wilderness Camping

My most memorable Canada Day was in 2009. I was hiking the West Coast Trail and we were a couple days into our 7-day adventure. We woke on the morning of the first to clear blue skies and the sound of the ocean crashing into the shore. We shook the dew off our tents, packed them snugly into our packs, strapped on our boots, and hefted the bag containing our essentials for survival onto our shoulders. The beaches were sandy and the critters at bay.

The West Coast trail is a popular hike. Unlike many of our other trips, this one we consistently spent our nights and mornings among many people. Everyone was friendly and chatting with impromptu neighbours but eventually everyone goes with their group and takes on the next leg of the journey. As we separated from the crowd and felt the first few breaths of relative seclusion we broke out into song?we sang O?Canada as we hiked down the beach.

The song itself was sung out of pitch, with missed words and we were constantly interrupting ourselves with fits of laughter as we were overcome with the beauty of where we were, of where we were celebrating this day. Once our version of our anthem was complete we continued with the demands of the day. Leaping inlets, climbing ladder after ladder, and walking down the rocky shelf of the ocean. What better way to spend Canada day than experiencing the wild that makes it so unique?

That evening, as we walked into camp, our legs sore and our feet begging to be done for the day, we found a spot to pitch our homes and made ourselves some dinner, which consisted of boiling water and pouring it into the bags of dehydrated meals. For a treat we made pudding. After all, it was a special day (and we really wanted our packs to loose some weight). That night we were surprised by a show of fireworks, we were both baffled and amazed that someone had decided to pack them all this way. Though the show was only a zipper away we were too tired by that time, too cozy in our sleeping bags, and the show over too quickly, to observe the flashing lights in the midst of the darkness. We listened to the shots and slept soundly knowing that any bear or cougar that had been near was now dashing into the forest.

This is my most familiar version of camping. Myself and a few other ladies carrying our “campers” on our back and heading as far away from civilization as we can possibly get. There are many other ways to enjoy the outdoors. And, there are benefits to camping in a camper in a park but these are two entirely different experiences. There is something magical about walking yourself into the wilderness of the Canadian backcountry and walking back out in one piece. There is an intense satisfaction in observing a pass before you walk through it, and turning around to see the mountain range you overcame.

In this version of camping you are changed, empowered, and come back entirely recharged. For, if you managed to make it through with only a canister of pepper spray and your wits, then what else can stop you?

Deanna Roney is an AU student who loves adventure in life and literature

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