Author Topic: Your greatest wild camping memories :)  (Read 1810 times)

Birdman

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 369
Your greatest wild camping memories :)
« on: 09:50:43, 24/09/20 »
Wild camping is for me an essential highlight of multi-day walks. It's the crown on a long, beautiful and sometimes tough and tiring walking day. Sometimes the camp is truly spectacular, but many times the beauty is in the small things, like the bird song around you, the sound of the water in the stream, the smell of the trees and flowers, deer grazing around your tent, the dark starry skies, the silence... You feel completely immersed in nature. Smiley


These countless wonderful wild camp experiences give me pleasure every time I think back about them. Let me start with one in Cajas National Park in Ecuador. When it got dark, fireflies emerged. Of course, this is always a spectacle. But when I was lying in my tent, some of them perched on the flysheet of my tent and the light was shining right through the fabric while I was dozing off. It was magic!



My camp at Laguna Llaviucu, 3168m elevation, where fireflies perched on my tent at night




My travel and walking reports: https://www.hikingbirdman.com/

gunwharfman

  • Veteran Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5342
Re: Your greatest wild camping memories :)
« Reply #1 on: 11:23:08, 24/09/20 »
For me, it must be 2015 when I hiked the GR10 route across the Pyrenees. As I walked up a track to the top of a large domed grassy and ferns mountain, on Day 16, it was within an hour of being dark and it also started to rain. As I neared the top, by now dusk, the rain was now pounding down vertically, there was no wind at all and it was now also very foggy as well. Eventually, I came to a narrow tarmac road going left to right from me. I turned left and walked along it, thankfully it was on the flat, I felt rather exhausted and cold by now.

It was soon dark and very quiet, the fog deadened all sound. I needed to find a flat area of ground which I did. it was adjacent to the road, down a short grassy slope and I could see a flat area and the outline of one tree. I quickly erected my tent and managed to keep the inside fairly dry as I did so. I got in my sleeping quilt and although the rain was making a loud din on my tent I quickly fell asleep.

I suddenly woke up!!! It was still raining and I could hear loud grunting around me! I instantly thought it was wild boar! In a bit of a panic, I pushed my down quilt into its waterproof bag, very disciplined of me, can't get that wet or I really would be done for!

My tent feet end started moving, then stopped, then at my face end a large 2" across, wet, sticky snout appeared from under the outer tent. Panic! I grabbed my hiking stick, always folded to its shortest length and kept beside me. I unzipped the inner tent and the snout appeared again. I unzipped the outer tent and there about 15" from my face was HER face, a big white domesticated sow and she tried to come closer! I hit her (not too hard but hard enough) on the nose and she squealed and stepped back and I bounded out of my tent and stood up still with hiking sticking in hand. It was a warm morning, I was just in my underwear and within a few seconds, I was wet through from the incessant rain.

There were three more just as big sows with her and they all wanted to get into my tent! I shouted, swore at them, waved my stick at them and smacked one who got too close. As one retreated another one came forward, they worked as a team. As I was thrashing about they just demolish my tent, they were too quick for me. This stand-off lasted for about 15 minutes and I wasn't winning. Suddenly and thankfully the pigs heard a dog bark and they just ran away!!! Phew, all over!

As I stood there, a man (the pigman I think) and his dog appeared at the top of the bank. He just laughed and waved at me and then he was gone as well. I suddenly got a sense of myself, standing there with just my little nighttime shorts on, soaked to the skin and still puffing and panting from the effort of it all. I felt a right fool and I'm sure I looked like one as well, and I now felt embarrassed.

I got my act together, found my clothes (all wet by now) and got dressed, well I TRIED to get dressed, every item of wet clothing stuck to my wet skin but after much pulling material around and over me, and swearing, (I rarely swear!) I eventually did it. I then packed everything into my rucksack (I knew that my only dry item was my sleeping quilt) and again nothing would slide easily into the rucksack. I had to punch and push the lot in as best I could. Once I got to the top of the bank I could see that in the foggy and wet night I had wandered into an open range pig rearing area, there were pigs everywhere! It all made sense now.

It was to be a most miserable day, I was wet, my clothes were wet, in fact I was VERY WET! I had to walk for hours that day, and I soon noticed that steam was coming off me as my body heat warmed up my clothes. It didn't stop raining until very late in the afternoon, I eventually came to a road, turned left and within a kilometre there in front of me was my saviour the CAFE PEDRO, a motel with a restaurant, white and gleaming in the middle of nowhere. A beautiful place! If you ever hike the GR10 please go there and think of me!  I had two gigantic mugs of black coffee and two large portions of Basque Tart but because I was so wet I chose to stay outside sitting on one of those garden swing seats with a waterproof fabric cover above me. The two young female staff in the restaurant were highly amused, this old bloke, wet, steamy and bedraggled just sitting there devouring coffee and cake like a wild banshee!

I walked on to Larrau (a few hours away) and booked myself into the local hotel, by now I was really done in! I ended the day by putting all of my wet gear across the room to aid drying and once done I decided to have a really nice hot shower. I stripped off, strolled into the shower room, saw my naked self in a full length mirror, looked, looked again and exclaimed " B-gg-er! I've got a HERNIA!" So one problem solved, only to be confronted by another, but thats another story!

richardh1905

  • Veteran Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5690
Re: Your greatest wild camping memories :)
« Reply #2 on: 12:16:23, 24/09/20 »
A topic that is close to my heart  :)


Lovely photo, Birdman, would love to visit the Andes sometime.


I have great memories of two wild camps in the Pyrenees, one with my university mountaineering club, by a lovely Ibon De Escarpinosa tarn amongst trees near Benasque on the Spanish side. The following day we walked up the wild valley to the SE, and returned over a ridge. Stunning scenery, great company, happy memories. https://goo.gl/maps/4pXUrqdK83zY5V287
This is the route up to the tarn -
https://www.villmor.com/en/leisure/routes-of-interest/route-to-ibonet-de-batisielles-and-ibon-de-escarpinosa/


A few years later my wife and I drove to the French Pyrenees, and enjoyed a very memorable wild camp  in the Reserve Naturelle du Neouvielle, by a tiny tarn under the cliffs of Le Gourguet, at an altitude of 2250m. An utterly gorgeous spot completely off the beaten track. Memorable for the sheer lovelinesss and remoteness of the location, and also for the titanic Pyrenean thunderstorm that visited us not once, not twice, but three times in the night, and the chorus of frogs that started up afterwards. This is the location - you can hardly see the tarn!
https://goo.gl/maps/2urRxF5AEkdf3jiE9


In Scotland, two stand out: A 2 night camp many years ago in the wild heart of the Fisherfield Forest in the NW highlands with my wife to be, crowned by climbing two of the remotest mountains in Britain, and a solo wild camp last year - the perfect pitch by a remote lochan on the northern slopes of Braeriach in the Cairngorms - https://wildaboutwalking.wordpress.com/highlands/braeriach-wild-camp/



Best so far in the Lakes is probably my most recent, way up on the summit plateau of Esk Pike, a stunning location, and I was rewarded by a gorgeous sunrise. https://wildaboutwalking.wordpress.com/lake-district/langdale-round-great-end/
« Last Edit: 12:36:37, 24/09/20 by richardh1905 »
WildAboutWalking - Join me on my walks through the wilder parts of Britain

richardh1905

  • Veteran Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5690
Re: Your greatest wild camping memories :)
« Reply #3 on: 12:24:26, 24/09/20 »
Quite an escapade, GWM!


..but was it your greatest wild camping memory?
« Last Edit: 12:40:31, 24/09/20 by richardh1905 »
WildAboutWalking - Join me on my walks through the wilder parts of Britain

Birdman

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 369
Re: Your greatest wild camping memories :)
« Reply #4 on: 13:07:24, 24/09/20 »
@GWM: Actually having to fight-off pigs that try to enter your tent doesn't sound like the best experience Grin . I have never had to do that, fortunately. Though I have heard many animals around my tent at night. Usually deer, but also black bear a few times in America. I had a Skunk sniffing around my tent and many rodents (one ate the straps of my hiking poles!). In Australia last year I often heard kangaroos hopping around my tent around midnight and one time a nocturnal bird (owl?) bumped onto the roof of my tent twice, as if it was attacking it.


@richard1905: awesome campspot on that photo!


My travel and walking reports: https://www.hikingbirdman.com/

ninthace

  • Veteran Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7409
Re: Your greatest wild camping memories :)
« Reply #5 on: 13:23:06, 24/09/20 »
As a scout, spending a night in the New Forest in a bivouac made of ferns and branches.  It rained heavily during the night and the ferns were already wet so it leaked like a sieve and my sleeping bag was not water resistant.  A great memory in that it is indelibly engraved!
Solvitur Ambulando

Birdman

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 369
Re: Your greatest wild camping memories :)
« Reply #6 on: 13:41:47, 24/09/20 »
Another great memory that I really have to post now, because I just discovered that today it is EXACTLY to the day 2 years ago that I woke up here in my tent: On the shore of Hopkins Lake in Washington state, near the Canadian border. It was going to be the last day of my 152 days/ 2650 miles PCT thru-hike from Mexico to Canada!


I was foggy and cold and just before I descended towards the lake I had been walking through wind and sleet. Autumn had really started now. When I was in my tent after cooking and eating my meal, I checked my map... and only then did it really sink in: Canada was only 6 more miles now! I was EUPHORIC! After walking for 5 months, having lost 10kg of body weight, my body feeling like a wreck with many little pains, I was actually going to make it! I thought back on all the beauty I encountered in these months...and the suffering, which makes all impressions more lasting. It was a very cold night but I slept like a baby, and the next morning I walked my last 6 miles of trail to the border (and then another 8 into Canada).




Looking down on Lake Hopkins, my last camp on the PCT
My travel and walking reports: https://www.hikingbirdman.com/

richardh1905

  • Veteran Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5690
Re: Your greatest wild camping memories :)
« Reply #7 on: 14:31:17, 24/09/20 »
Beautiful atmospheric photo, Birdman. And what an achievement - no wonder you were on a high!
WildAboutWalking - Join me on my walks through the wilder parts of Britain

Birdman

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 369
Re: Your greatest wild camping memories :)
« Reply #8 on: 14:31:34, 24/09/20 »
As many here know, I like to combine walking, birding and wild camping if possible. This is really the way to go to see some special birds. When I was in Ecuador, one of the birds that I really wanted to see was the Ecuadorian Hillstar. This hummingbird species is the highest occurring hummingbird species in Ecuador, with an elevation range of 3500-5200m!


So, to see this bird (and other high elevation species) and also to enjoy the awesome scenery, I visited Cotopaxi National Park. A local bus dropped me off along the main road and from there I walked up into the park. I brought 4 days food for my walk.


I camped high on the paramo, really hoping to see this special hummingbird. The reason that this bird lives at such high elevation is because it feeds on Chuquiragua flowers which only grow there. Am I going to find it? Time will tell... I pitched my tent on the slopes of the (extinct) Ruminahui volcano in an area with many Chuquiragua flowers, with a stunning backdrop of the (extinct) Cotopaxi vulcano.



My camp on the paramo at 4100m elevation, Cotopaxi in the background


Did I find the bird? YES! They were buzzing around my tent! And apart from abundant birdlife, it was totally quiet and secluded with no other people around. Fantastic to have all this for yourself...



Ecuadorian Hillstar feeding on Chuquiragua flowers at 4100m elevation


What a camp this was! On the fourth day I climbed over a ridge and descended back to the main road on the other side. Mission accomplished! (19 new high elevation species added to my list)
« Last Edit: 14:34:55, 24/09/20 by Birdman »
My travel and walking reports: https://www.hikingbirdman.com/

richardh1905

  • Veteran Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5690
Re: Your greatest wild camping memories :)
« Reply #9 on: 14:34:15, 24/09/20 »
That is a camping spot to die for.
WildAboutWalking - Join me on my walks through the wilder parts of Britain

Dodgylegs

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 356
Re: Your greatest wild camping memories :)
« Reply #10 on: 14:45:07, 24/09/20 »
Loving all of these!
Keep them coming.

Birdman

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 369
Re: Your greatest wild camping memories :)
« Reply #11 on: 15:21:57, 24/09/20 »
OK, one more today. Smiley Who remembers their 50th birthday? I do! The night before my birthday, I pitched my tent on this lovely secluded spot in the Sierra Nevada (California). The weather was lovely, the surroundings stunning and I felt so incredibly happy! Smiley I have no other specific memories about this evening, other than how happy I was (and what can possibly be better than that?)



Celebrating my 50th birthday alone, at 3350m in the Sierra Nevada, 756 miles into my PCT thru-hike!

My travel and walking reports: https://www.hikingbirdman.com/

gunwharfman

  • Veteran Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5342
Re: Your greatest wild camping memories :)
« Reply #12 on: 17:25:07, 24/09/20 »
I remember in 2019 (or was it 2018?) wild camping next to a young German couple just off a mountain road on Day 3 of the GR11 in Spain. They were cooking their meal (I don't cook) and I noticed on my map there was a hostel/restaurant 7km down the hill. I walked to the road thinking about going there, (but how?) the young couple said they would look after my tent. I then saw an America couple standing by the side of the road (for a few seconds I thought they were waiting for a bus) but they told me they were waiting for a taxi to take them to a hotel a few km on from where I was thinking of going to. Anyway, they let me get in the taxi with them and the driver dropped me outside the hostel and they drove on.

I went in, I was the first customer of the evening and ordered a full three-course meal with wine (I drank the whole bottle) and had brandy to finish. I deserved it, I'd been hiking up and down all day! The dessert is what I remember most, a large bowl of 'white chocolate soup' with shavings of dark mint chocolate laying on the surface and a smaller bowl of strawberries, raspberries and red grapes on the side. Absolutely gooehy! I loved it!

I bought a second bottle of wine and took it with me when I left. I strolled up the road for about a kilometre, I needed to, I was full up and rather drunk but managed to hitch a lift back to my tent and I gave the botle of wine to the young couple. One of the most comfortable wild camps I've ever experienced. A warm balmy evening clear sky evening and good company. They offered me wine but I declined, I'd really had enough! When I awoke it was a perfect morning, blue sky, we could see for miles. We walked on together until midafternoon, they carried on via the GR11 but I turned left to France.

archaeoroutes

  • Veteran Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1482
Re: Your greatest wild camping memories :)
« Reply #13 on: 22:35:41, 24/09/20 »
Waking up in my bag high on the GR5 and watching the rising sun paint a crag pink then turning my head and coming face to face with a marmot.


Sitting in a tent listening to the rain hammering down and knowing that not only was it a rest day but also that this was why I'd lugged a paperback with me.


Cutting a snowhole on the side of Beinn Mac Duibh and intercepting one someone had made earlier, thus saving a good hour's work.


As a child on a skiing trip, eating cream of tomato soup and wondering what the noise is outside, to then have the tent ripped open by a reindeer.


Lying in my bag in my tent after a March day spent in a ghyll supervising scrambling groups, feeling the first bit of warmth since breakfast start to deep in as I scoff a pack of jelly babies and relish that no-one is going to pester me.
(Turned out to be short lived as a storm blew up and flattened several tents so I had to get out and help sort it.)


Lying on Penhale training area after everything's gone quiet, surrounded by glow worms and stars. And knowing that as I was ECO, there wouldn't be any unexpected action to disturb me.


Sitting on a little island that I'd canoed out to with tent etc and knowing that I had it to myself all night.


Racing a group of fit, young folk the last few miles to the site and being sat there with tent up and food cooking when they arrived. I don't think they realised I'd only beaten them by a couple of minutes and was just very efficient at setting camp.
Walking routes visiting ancient sites in Britain's uplands: http://www.archaeoroutes.co.uk

Dodgylegs

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 356
Re: Your greatest wild camping memories :)
« Reply #14 on: 23:01:03, 24/09/20 »
My unforgettable wild camps, this has just come to mind! Can I sneak in with this?

On the way to Le Mans 24 hour race, set off late due to too much excitement the night before!
Had to bomb down to south coast, arriving just in time for ferry to Cherbourg.
On leaving harbour and driving up hill noticed the exhaust was rattling, all that fast driving had wrecked it, was about to fall off so tied on with tent pegs. Eventually found a Midas centre who fitted a full system, sounded beautiful so quiet. Too late to reach campsite so decided to camp out in wilds on side of road, it was so scary! All I could hear all night was animals outside, so not much sleep. Actually stayed in a campsite next night, but locked keys in car, asked brother where spare set were, in the car… used barbecue skewers to break in, took ages to the great amusement of Dutch neighbour! In Amsterdam I watch guys do this in seconds! Coming back towards Cherbourg after race, not much sleep there either! it was a gorgeous day, so stopped on beach near to Coutances for a swim and relax before heading for ferry. Of course the car wouldn’t start! No way to get to ferry so camped on the beach, didn’t get much sleep here either! Walked to nearest house with French phrasebook in attempt to find Ford garage, beautiful funny French lady eventually understood and called for help. Pickup arrived and took us into Coutances. Cambelt had gone and wrecked the valves! Stayed in B & B to get some sleep! Garage was brilliant, did job straight away and beautiful hand written list of parts presented with the bill…. Checked with local garage at home and very reasonably priced work. This was a very expensive trip for me! Managed to rearrange ferry crossing... ferry was named 'Coutances' ...journey home was unmemorable!