Ungo, bongo bong bang blah… sorry, I had some bread in my mouth. How that affected my typing, I do not know… Sometime in August this year, a friend of mine had the wonderful idea that we both go into the wilderness for a few days. We were, essentially, to go camping, only without a tent.
Now, if anybody reading this comes from law enforcement, this next paragraph is for you. Here at Indie Road, we make up a lot of stories, and the photos that we put up are carefully arranged during predetermined photoshoots to make it look like we are doing stupid and illegal things. What actually happened was that we went into the forest, set up the cameras, took the photos, and then immediately came back home to a lovely warm cup of tea, some bedtime reading while listening to Duke Ellington jazz records, and an early night to ensure we could wake up early enough to work hard, pay taxes and consume advertised goods to the max. Nobody is actually stupid enough to illegally sleep in a cave, I mean who wants to sleep in a cave anyway, right? You can stop reading now.
Anyway, where was I?
Tom’s Top Tips for Truly Terrific Time-Traveling Tramping Trips
Try and say that after a few tequilas. So today, let’s point out all of my shortcomings (of which there were plenty) and so you can all learn from my stupid mistakes. Remember; none of this ever happened, and nobody should ever try to do it… 😉
1 – When you’re going camping without a tent, take a tent with you. Before you accuse me of cheating, there is method to my madness. This is actually something I succeeded in doing (unlike most of my other points). If you can’t guarantee that you’ll have shelter or a dry place to sleep, it’s always good to have a tent, you know, just in case. I had my 1.5 person tent which weighs just over 1kg, so it wasn’t so bad, but I did end up just lugging it around for no reason aside from security in the end. Like a condom, it’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. And yes, if you take this metaphor too literally, I’m a dick.
2 – Figure out how long you will be gone for and take sufficient food (and toilet paper) with you, before leaving home. My trip was shamefully unorganised and un-German, as we thought before leaving we should have enough time for a quick supermarket trip. Then we left without going to the supermarket, thinking that we could find a food shop somewhere in the forest. It turned out to be a public holiday, but only in a very small part of Germany, so we set out for our first night and morning with very little to consume. Those who know me will also know that I eat more than a starved grizzly bear at an unattended buffet. We spent most of the second day trying to locate a supermarket, which we did succeed in, but wasn’t ideal, and we cheated at lunchtime and snuck into a fancy restaurant. Fruits were also stolen from trees. You can be really legit and try hunting and gathering, for which I recommend finding a local foliage book so that you don’t end up dramatically dying in a bus in Alaska, although, on the plus side, movies will be made about you, and maybe Eddie Vedder will write the soundtrack.
3 – Take maps, and know roughly where you want to go from the start. Again, another point we failed at. If you’re looking for caves to sleep in, know where there are likely to be caves that you can potentially sleep in. If you’re going to have to make some connections to get there, know this from the start so that you don’t end up stranded in a village with your thumb out (not that this was a bad thing, but it didn’t feel very caveman like). It doesn’t have to be a detailed or accurate plan, but to have a vague idea will definitely help you out.
4 – Man make fire. Fire keep man warm. Fire keep buzzy buzzy away. Fire make man see. Fire feel good. The signs may strictly forbid it, but when you’re sleeping in caves, usually people have made fires before and have left you with a wonderful fire pit waiting to be graced with beautiful destructive flames. It also adds to the tribal prehistoric atmosphere, and no camping trip is complete unless you return home reeking of smoke, forest, and sweat. Do remember to take some paper and a lighter as it will make this task a lot easier and trust me, you do not want to burn up all your toilet paper. And please, for the love of God, don’t burn down the forest, and be responsible and sensible about this.
5 – Take plenty of waterproof and warm clothes. Caves are cold, and they stay a constant temperature all of the time once you venture deep enough. Just because it’s burning in the sun, it doesn’t mean you will be warm when you go to sleep. It took me a good few hours to warm up again…
6 – Clean freshwater is harder to find than you think, so do take some big containers with you and be prepared to subject yourself to a hernia as you lug it all around the wilderness. Not only will you need it for drinking, but also cooking, cleaning, coffee, and drowning your hiking buddy in their sleep. I had to skip the last one due to a serious shortage in H2O. This time, they were lucky. Take a Lifestraw Go with you, if you have one.
7 – When sleeping in caves, be aware that you are not alone. Hang up all of your food so that mice, rats and that thing from The Descent can’t get to it. As I found out, that includes your dirty dishes, unless you want to be woken to the sound of mice munching on the remains of your homemade pesto and to spend the rest of the trip worrying about the sanitary condition of your eating utensils with your diminished cleaning equipment.
8 – If you’re going to dive into nature for a few days, actually appreciate the nature. This is best done when you don’t have to worry about a) finding caves to sleep in, b) finding food to fill your pie hole and c) avoiding the authorities due to some slightly illegal activity, however, the world is full of beauty, and you should stop to look at it. On our first night, in my peripheral vision, I spied some thunderbolts on the horizon and we rushed to the top of the rocks to watch the most amazing display of storms in every direction over the lake. It was fucking incredible. When we retreated and started to cook the few pieces of food we had with us, the outside became a torrential downpour of rain and waterfalls which made an excellent nocturne to fall asleep to in the light of the dying embers of the fire, accompanied by the sound of the mice trying to steal our food. Do I have photos of it? Hell no. Can I prove it actually happened? Absolutely not. Do I give a fuck? Do I ever…?
9 – Lakes are awesome. Don’t be afraid of cold water, a quick dip might mean that when you return to your flatmates back in civilisation, you smell marginally less like a wet dog. Look out for crocodiles, location dependent.
10 – Vegetarian food is better, and I’m so sorry for suggesting it. Think about it; if you can’t keep your meat cold, how are you going to keep it fresh? Do yourself a favour and just simplify things when you’re going wild. You can buy yourself a handcrafted gourmet grass-fed organic fairtrade beefburger from your favourite joint to reward yourself for your survival when you return.
Remember guys; this never happened. If anybody asks you, pretend you can only communicate in Faroese and babble incoherently in an Icelandic accent.
– Tom @ indieroad