Canoe Adventures

"For me, and for thousands with similar inclinations, the most important passion of life is the overpowering desire to escape periodically from the clutches of a mechanistic civilization. To us the enjoyment of solitude, complete independence, and the beauty of undefiled panoramas is absolutely essential to happiness." - Bob Marshall



There are times when a solo paddle, with no others around is what you need to refresh the mind and body. And yet, other times we need to meet up with like minded paddlers to share the moments.


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A Basic Guideline for Camp Set Up

Setting up a Camp

As we have already seen, setting up a proper camp means having designated areas for sleeping, eating, toilet facilities, and washing up. You might want to separate your food washing from your clothes washing too although that’s not a must.

Your Sleeping Set up

This usually means setting up a tent. As beautiful as the stars can be, waking up all wet from dew or a light rain is no good. Flat ground is preferable to sloping grades. Is there a better direction for the opening? Some recommend facing the south or southeast but we like to say “it depends”. When setting up your tent the quality of the ground is also important. Once you find the level place, give it the once and twice over to look for sticks, surface rocks as well as those under the ground level. We you have a smooth surface without digging and prying the landscape, you are ready to lay down your tent tarp. This will help prevent punctures in the tent floor and leakage of moisture up through the floor.

Is one tent enough for the gear closet? Tents come in various sizes, construction design and some of those designs are more suited to hot or sever weather. So remember when adding a tent to your gear list that you consider, typical weather conditions, number of people that you plan to shelter, and ease of set up. You may find that several tents will ultimately be a part of your plan.

Smaller tents generally weight less but they also require a more flexible body to move around in. Smaller tents can hold heat a bit better in cold weather if you are relying on body heat only.

The addition of a pad to the sleeping arena will help provide a restful night for many. Since you are canoeing you should be able to add a reasonable air mattress if you want. Some even go the extra distance and get the double thick mattresses. For those with more limited space, weight concerns or simply like a harder surface to sleep on, self inflating rolls may be an answer.

Now we have a tent and a sleeping pad, but nothing on top of it. Once again we’re back to the choice of temperature range and comfort. If you get a bag that is too warm or too cold your tent may be of little comfort. 

Toilet Facilities

Once you have that set up, move on to the toilet facilities. It should be secure from weather events as best as it can be set up. Several very good portal units are available for a overnight trip. Be prepared for damaged bags etc by carrying extra and spread them around the group.

Kitchen - Cooking area

The kitchen area should have a cleaning area for prep and final wash of the cooking utensils, and cookware.  Plan meals that allow for easy and quick clean up when possible and certainly if the weather turning bad can prevent a successful meal.  Folding tables add a real sense to a complete and safe work area. And that a key thing to remember is that it is a work area. Keep an eye on your knives, hot areas, flammable canisters, and all things that can cut, burn, or make a trip to the first aid kit a requirement. 

Your kitchen and trash should be close but something that can be separated quickly, since after your done eating, you need to wrap up the days trash and secure it from animals and possible loss into the river if your canoe takes an unscheduled dump.

As part of your kitchen wash area you can include a line to dry hand towels, and river cloths that might need to be hung up to dry.

Camp Fire - Group area

One really nice thing about canoe trips on a river is a group camp fire. Use the same fire pit area as previous campers if you can find one. There is no reason to build one just to build one and keeping the number of fire rings down to a minimum is better for the environment. You might even consider building your fire in a fire pan to take the ashes with you. It is even required in some places. Don't leave hot coals unattended and the last one to bed, should make sure the fire is OUT, no heat from the coals. Windy nights and dry grasses and the next thing you have a dangerous situation. Be smart.

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