Overnight Tarp-Camping in June

Headed out again last weekend to our spot by the river for an overnighter.  Even just for one night, camping has a way of taking my mind off things.  I love the busy work of camping – setting up camp, getting water, lighting a fire, gathering firewood, etc.  It feels good for the spirit.

Being right on the river is a great location – an amazing view of water, beach, forest and mountains.

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It’s June now and mosquito season is definitely in swing now!  So although I wanted to practice setting up a tarp shelter, I decided I would sleep in my tent for bug protection underneath an open tarp set-up.  That way, I’d still have a great view of my outdoor living room and still get the experience of sleeping in the woods.  When I have 4 tent walls around me, it definitely feels safe and cozy, but it does make me feel a little more removed from my surroundings, not being able to see them.

This is the tarp / tent set-up I ended up with:

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Not too bad, right?  Well, this was no easy feat for this newbie at tarp-camping.  This set-up took ALL afternoon!  But I learnt a lot.  I definitely did better than on my May wild-camping trip.  This time I managed to prepare a bit better by learning a few tarp set-up techniques.

The 2 knots I ended up using for the tarp:

  • Taut Line Hitch – this proved to be one of the best knots I learnt. It allows you to constantly re-adjust the length of your tie-offs without having to untie and re-tie your rope. A real time saver.

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  • Looping the cordage through the tarp tie-outs without even requiring a knot – This was quick, easy and secure.

Now what do you do when you need to tie off a corner but there’s no trees where you need them?  Another helpful technique – using a pole / long stick wedged into the earth where you needed the tree, tying off the tarp to the pole, then tying off the pole to a stake in the ground.  This keeps the pole upright and taut.  You can see this stick on the left of my tent in the earlier photo. And I used the handy clove hitch for tying off to the pole quickly.

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For lunch, I got to try out an MRE (Meal, Ready-to-Eat), a military food ration.  Here are the full contents:

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This MRE includes crackers, raisins, Skittles!!!, an entrée of sweet and sour chicken with rice, salt and pepper packets, and the ‘Flameless Ration Heater’ bag (left), which reacts with the salt water provided to heat up your entrée.

The entrée didn’t look very appetizing, but it tasted pretty okay, I’d say!

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Later on, I tried firelighting with the char cloth I made from my last trip.  And it took a spark very easily from my firesteel.

Char cloth is great, I’m realizing, because it burns very slowly so it holds an ember well.  I had time to place the char cloth in a bird’s nest of cattail fluff and dried moss, blew on it some and…poof! Fire!

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Then we ate. And the dog too, of course.

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Then we sat around the fire until our eyes became heavy, watching one of nature’s best TV shows, the Fire Show.  Though we’ve watched it hundreds of times before, it never seems to get old.  Watching the flames of a campfire makes something inside me become still.  It feels very different from even relaxing in my own living room…Maybe it speaks to that primitive thing inside all of us?

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And that was it for this mini adventure.  Until the next time we answer the call of the wild!

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