We're back from our favorite adventure of the year. Our nature-drenched, annual trip to Glacier National Park and (this year) the Canadian Rockies. As usual, we did a lot of hiking – about 100 miles worth – and managed to see mostly new things while checking out a few of our old favorites.
First off, be sure to check out our Instagram page for the full story of the adventure. We've taken to pretty successfully using Instagram to document our day-to-day. We'll be writing about a lot of the different segments of our adventure. Today, we want to dive into some tips that'll help you plan a backcountry camping adventure. Backcountry camping (wait, make that successful backcountry camping) takes a lot of thoughtful planning. Why? Because once you're out there, you don't have a lot of resources at the ready should you need something. Also, you don't want to get miles and miles away from civilization only to find that something is springing your experience.
With that, here are some of our best tips for rocking your backcountry experience.
Know what you can handle
Our trek had us ascending about 2500 feet and then descending about 2500 feet on consecutive days. Although we no longer have the bodies of 28 year olds, we're in excellent cardiovascular shape and in very good physical condition, in general. Our consecutive 12-mile days (with heavy packs) was rough on us. However, we were ready for it. We already knew that we could pretty comfortably hike over 20-miles in a day. We cut that back significantly when factoring in what it would be like to go up, go down, and mule all our gear. Do your research; know your limits. Spoiler alert: Going uphill is pretty easy for athletic types (we train on the stair mill); it's going downhill that challenges people like us.
Don't half-ass it.
As is the case with any hobby, passion, etc., backcountry camping can be expensive. Don't skimp on gear and conveniences. Trust us, it can be rough enough that you're living off the land for several days. Don't make decisions or cut corners that may spoil your experience. For example, hydration is critical. You'll be exerting yourself (see #1, above), and you could run into an emergency. We carry not only a kick ass filter but also a SteriPEN. We were able to get an unlimited supply of glacial water right out of the lakes that we hiked by (and camped near).
Follow backcountry rules.
Glacier National Park has the highest concentration of bears of anyplace in the lower 48 states. When you are backcountry camping (think carrying/cooking food), you need to be especially mindful of realities like this. Oftentimes, you'll be required to hang your food (and anything odor producing - toiletries, etc.) in a bag far away from where you and other campers are sleeping. Be mindful of general backcountry best practices and rules specific to your destination.
Don't be that person.
It pains me to say this, but we had those people at our backcountry campsite. At a pretty remote backcountry site with only four camping spots, we somehow managed to have two obnoxious guys occupying one of the coveted spots. They sat at camp going on and on about all of the problems with the National Parks Service and they boasted about how they avoided the entire permit process and were not even occupying their site legally. Similarly, you'd be surprised at how many people we bumped into who were not prepared with enough food and water. Don't be that person.
Make it special.
Backcountry camping is not something you'll likely do often. Think of some ways to make it extra memorable. Speaking of our camp, the people occupying the other sites were incredible. One guy from Austin, brought camper's cheesecake (see above) that he shared with us. We – anticipating a star-filled experience – prepared to camp with the fly off of our tent so that we could stargaze.