Camping in the deep northern wilderness is the ultimate adventure. To maximize this adventure is to be prepared. Below are a few tips and tricks to keep your camping trip safe and enjoyable.
Bears are always on people's minds but in actual fact, animals you should be worried about are Mice, Red Squirrels and Raccoons.
Black Bears are extremely timid and really the only times they are dangerous is when you corner them or do something threatening. Bears keep their distance and are not a problem. To keep all animals out of your food and your tent, do the following.
· Keep ALL EDIBLE FOOD in a cooler with a locking lid. Then wrap the cooler a couple of times with rope just for added protection. Then hang the cooler at least 7 feet off the ground.
· Never bring any food into your tent at any time, which includes candy, gum or toothpaste. Bears go nuts over the smell of mint or peppermint, which is why park wardens always tell people to keep their toothpaste with their food.
· Any food left over from dinner should be either burned or put back in your cooler.
· Always wash your pots, pans and dishes before and after you use them. At night, mice come into your camp to look for food. Their feces can carry many forms of bacteria, which can make you sick.
· All animals hate the smell of fabric softener so bring lots of fabric softener sheets and put them everywhere. Put them in your knapsack, your tent, in your sleeping bag and even in your cooler. This is extra protection and will help mask the smell of food and keep curious animals away.
· When getting water out of a lake, it's safer to get it out in the open water at least 200 feet from shore. Never drink water near a beaver hut or beaver dam. There is a sickness called Beaver Fever (Giardia). It's caused by a virus that lives in the urine of the beaver and can give you flu-like symptoms. You can buy iodine water sterilization pills but they are expensive and make the water taste funny. It's better to boil water to be safe.
· Set up your tent in the shade but still in a place where the wind off the lake can blow the bugs away.
· An hour before you go to bed, light a mosquito coil in your tent to kill all the bugs and keep other bugs away. Make sure the mosquito coil is suspended by the metal holder provided and is placed in a metal pot or pan to avoid damaging the floor of your tent.
· If you are going to burn mosquito coils outside around your campsite DO NOT HANG THEM ON BRANCES OR NAILS STUCK IN TREES. Often people forget about burning coils and go to bed. This is a common cause of forest fires in provincial parks. Bring empty pie plates with you, fill them with gravel or sand and place the burning coil on the sand.
Pack for all types of weather. The summer is usually warm but cold fronts can come down from the arctic. You should bring an extra waterproof plastic tarp and some budgie cords to put over your tent. In the north, the rain can be very heavy and can blast right through your tent so it's always good to have a little extra protection.
If you are going to bring a cooler to keep meat or other perishable foods cool, you need ice. The best thing to do is get 2 liter plastic pop bottles and clean them out. Then fill them with drinking water and freeze them. Because the ice is in plastic, it lasts much longer. As the ice melts over a few days, you can pour some of the water out and have an ice cold drink. The empty plastic bottles are light and can be pressed down to be packed out easily.