Do You Know the Proper Place to Pitch a Tent?
Author: Lorena B. Angell
With the summer approaching us, many families will take to the hills to go camping. If you yourself have never truly camped in a tent before, you are missing out on the purest form of camping. Taking a tent with all the trimmings to the forest is an experience like none other.
However, it is not something that you just up and do one day without learning a few basics. Where to place your tent is surprisingly important on your camping expedition. There are so many 'Hollywood' shots of the perfect campsite that are misleading. A crackling fire with the opening of the tent facing the fire which is only a few footsteps away. Sorry, but that is not advisable in the real forest with real animals and real natural elements such as smoke.
To give you a good idea of where to pitch your tent when camping, I'll tell you about a pack trip that we went on into Bechler Meadows. The trailhead is located in the south end of Yellowstone National Park and will actually take you to Old Faithful if you want to follow it that far.
We were in the 'real' forest, not a forested commercial campground. The trail had designated campsites to help with the overall impact of the area. Ours was located in a bend along the small river and came complete with a campfire area with log benches. There was also a 'high hide' for us to string up the food at night. No picnic table, no bar-b-que grill, no faucet with clean water and no outhouse. It was pure camping and we were planning on staying three days and two nights.
This type of campsite allows you to choose where you place your tent. We did have some guidelines from the Park Ranger, that we met with prior to departure, on how to choose our tent site.
We chose our tent site based on the factors outlined by the Ranger. First we didn't want to be too close to the water. Low lying areas near streams and creeks are susceptible to flooding if Mother Nature dishes out a heavy rain storm. Up in the mountains, what looks like a moderate rain storm can compound quickly if the run-off gathers to your particular stream.
Next we checked the area for dead trees. We certainly didn't want a big gust of wind knocking a tree down on us. You know the saying, 'if a tree falls in the woods…and no one's around…" the point is, trees fall. We made sure that our tent was not in range of any dead trees.
Our fire and food prep area needed to be far enough away from our tent to keep us safe from hungry animals. If a bear smells your campsite, you certainly don't want him rummaging through your tent, too. We kept all aromatic food items, even toothpaste, dangling 15 feet above the ground. However, we made sure that our tent was a good 30 yards away from that.
The last factor in the decision of where to place our tent was the latrine. In the backwoods, there aren't any outhouses. You are truly roughing it when you have to find a suitable place to 'take care of business'. But you want privacy at the same time. We didn't want our 'bathroom area' to be too close to our tent and certainly not upwind.
So with all those factors in mind, we came up with a space that was situated out in a meadow, away from the standing dead trees, water, fire, food, and privy. Our next task was finding the smoothest, most level ground to situate our tent on. Once we found a good spot, we positioned our tent door away from the main wind direction. We were already far enough away from the fire that smoke would not be an issue for us. The ground would provide adequate drainage in the event of a rain deluge so we didn't need to dig a trench around our tent.
We had one other factor to consider when looking for our perfect tent site, our horses. We were on a pack trip and as such, the horses have to be taken care of also. The meadow was the perfect place to 'stake' our horses, however it was also the best place for our tent. We made sure that there was ample space for both of us to cohabitate without getting in each others way.
Our camping trip was awesome and we had a great time. My advice to all of you that want to venture out into the woods this summer is plan ahead, follow the advice of the Forest Rangers when given, and use plain common sense.
About the Author:
Lorena B. Angell is an Outdoor Specialist. Her love of the outdoors inspires many others to venture out and go camping. She believes in being environmentally friendly. Her strong points are in camping, horse pack trips, backpacking, hiking, winter survival techniques and outdoor camp cooking.
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Do You Know the Proper Place to Pitch a Tent?