From backcountry camping in Newfoundland to exploring glaciers and mountains in British Columbia, Canada offers amazing opportunities for those who want to experience nature at its best. Wilderness trips can be exhilarating but can also turn into a dangerous adventure if you are not prepared. If you are unfamiliar with the area you plan to explore, make sure you travel with someone who is experienced and knows the terrain you will be in. Planning ahead will ensure that you get the most out of your trip and that you will be prepared to deal with anything unexpected that you might encounter.
Before you decide on a specific destination, do some research to make sure that your level of experience matches the area you plan to explore. There are a few key questions that should be considered before you head out:
· Will you be camping, staying in a shelter or perhaps a backcountry lodge?
· Do you plan on making daily wilderness excursions?
· If you have planned daily trips; how far are you prepared to travel and will there be changes in elevation?
· Are you more comfortable with remote areas or well traveled ones?
Before you start packing, it’s important to get a high quality, topographic map since in more remote areas trails are often not well defined. This is one of the many reasons you need to make sure you have an experienced wilderness expert with you and that you are not traveling in areas that are too far beyond your own experience level.
Knowing what to bring with you is also critical since you will be carrying all your own gear. Remember that even in the summer months, mountainous areas can still see snow and the nights can be cold. Some of the clothing that you need to pack should include:
· Long underwear
· Fleece jacket, down vest, wool sweater
· Hats, gloves/mitts
· Extra socks
· Boots with proper ankle supports
· Shorts/pants/shirt – for warmer weather trips
When considering food and shelter, it is important to keep in mind that you will be carrying everything which makes it essential that whatever you bring is lightweight and takes up as little space as possible. Pre-packaged, freeze-dried food that has the right balance of calories to sustain your energy and matches your daily exertion level is essential. A lightweight, waterproof shelter and sleeping bag are also critical in keeping you warm and dry.
Some of the other essentials you will need include:
· Waterproof matches
· First aid kit
· Signaling device
· Water purification systems or a LifeStraw for drinking water
· Portable Pack Axe
· Pocket knife and saw
· Water bottle
· Cooking pots and utensils
There are of course more items that must be considered depending on where you plan to travel and how long you plan to be away. Perhaps one of the most important things every backcountry or wilderness explorer can do to ensure a safe trip is to tell family or friends where you are going and when you plan to return. Many wilderness/backcountry parks also allow you to register your plans with them so in the event that you do not return by a predetermined date, staff knows where to look for you.
Experience the raw and varied beauty that the geography of Canada has to offer by getting close to nature. Make sure you next wilderness trip is one you’ll always remember – So plan ahead, stay safe and enjoy communing with all that nature has to offer.