Hey Folks! Today's Tactical Tuesday covers some of the basics to setting up a base camp. There are a lot of things you should be concerned about when selecting a location. While finding the perfect location is often impossible there are things that you can do to mitigate less than ideal sites.
When picking a camp you want to make sure that you are at least 200 feet away from a water source. While this does make it a little more difficult for water gathering, it keeps the water supply from accidentally being contaminated during the course of your stay. Stuff that you take for granted at home, doesn't translate in the woods. For instance, gray water, trash, a fire pit, and using the "facilities."
Speaking of "facilities" when selecting an area for that, many people are first concerned with privacy. However, I would recommend first determining which direction the wind is blowing, and then sending people down wind. Nothing like enjoying your camp, and then getting a whiff of someone else's "nature." Also make sure that going downwind doesn't take you closer to a water source.
Another key to a good base camp is of course selection a place for a fire pit. This is often the general meeting place and also where cooking is done. When looking for a fire pit you want to watch out for dry materials, both on the ground in the area, and also overhead. Dead leaves and branches overhead can easily catch on fire after several hours. Once you've found a good area, collect nearby rocks and form a fire ring. This will help keep your fire contained to the area you know is safe. If you're lucky there will be a dry source of wood nearby to collect from, but not close enough to catch fire.
When you're cooking over or near the fire, you want to make sure it's away from where you are sleeping. Woodland animals could be in the area, smell the food, and come looking for a snack. The last thing you need is to have a bear tearing up your camp site in the middle of the night as you sleep 10 ft away. Make sure to bring trash bags to keep the area clean, and bear bag both the food and trash overnight.
When you're done eating, it's important to wash your cookware. After you're done avoid dumping "gray" water on plants. It is harmful to many different wild vegetation. This also goes for if you wash yourself up or brush your teeth.
Lastly you're need a place to setup your shelters. As said before, you don't want it too close to your cooking / common area in case of wild animals. Ideally, you'll be able to find some flat ground that doesn't have any roots or rocks. However, if you are stuck on a slight incline, it's best to situation yourself so that when you sleep your head is more elevated than your feet. You also want to consider which way the sunrises, in case you want to sleep in or get up early. Likewise, it's good to check the surrounding area for trees. Both for potential shade, but also for danger. "Widow Maker" Trees are dead trees that are near your camp site. If one of these should crack and fall while you're sleeping, you'll soon understand what they're named for.
Hopefully this helps everyone put some thought into base camp selection the next time they are out enjoying the wilderness. Remember to have fun out there and stay safe!
Does your BOB at least have: water, basic tools, fire, food, first-aid kit, and shelter?
"When planning, prepare for the most likely, and then the most catastrophic." - Guru
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