Finding Comfort in the Wild

If you are out camping, you will understand that you are “roughing” it. Your not going to be on a comfortable bed, but that doesn’t mean that you have to wake up with a sore back the next day. I’ve done my fair bit of camping, so I thought I would give you some advice on how I get up in the morning ready to get straight into it. You don’t want to struggle to walk around if you are somewhere as beautiful as Yellowstone National Park or Fuji Hakone Izu National Park

Photo: Flickr

Photo: Flickr

Tent Location

Now some of this may seem straight forward, but I’m going to repeat it for everyone just in case. Firstly you want to find an area to set up camp that’s in a flat and level. If that isn’t easy due to your surroundings you can camp on a slight incline (just make sure you set up the tent so that your head is elevated above your feet). You don’t want it to be too steep or you won’t be able to sleep.

You need to find an area that is also free from rocks for obvious reasons. Sand works best, but that is not always available.

You also want to position yourself somewhere that is not going to be open to the weather. You don’t want to be trying to sleep while your tent is in a gale force wind.

Photo: Flickr

Photo: Flickr

What to Sleep On

Now this really depends on a few things, mainly how much can you carry. If you are setting up camp only a few feet from your car, well, you are laughing. You can bring a comfortable blow up mattress to spend the night on. Now if you are on a long hike through difficult terrain, then you want to limit the amount of weight you are carrying. Here are some options for that:

  1. Take nothing! You can actually use nature to help you out. If you are camping in a sandy area, then you may be able to get away without any cushioning. However, if you are on a bit more rocky terrain you can use leaves to create a bit of a nature mattress for yourself.
  2. Blow up mattresses – With technology improving these are becoming even more and more light-weight. Some products can be less than a pound (450 grams),  which is light years ahead of what they were when I was younger.
  3. Camping mat – These take up a bit more room and weigh a little more, but you don’t have to spend time blowing them up.

Personally I wouldn’t go out without my blow up mattress. A good nights sleep is worth the extra pound! Now none of these comfortable bedding are going to be like sleeping on a luxury hotel bed, but they will get you by.

Tent 1

Source: Flickr

Tent Type

This one is quite simple. Find a tent that is going to protect you from the weather. Simple as that. Don’t skimp on it. You don’t want water coming into the tent. You don’t want to freeze your ass off because your tent lets a breeze in. Here’s a quick guide to picking a good tent.

Living Wild

I’m sure you have heard about people that have turned their backs on society and just walked off into the wild to live a life of solitude. Whether it was because life just became too hard for them or maybe they were on the run from the law, they all had their own story of why they did it. It’s weird because as a human race we have evolved over the millennia from living in caves and under trees into what today we called civilized. Some people want to go back! My opinion is “Each to their own”. You can do what you want.

As a nature lover I find it interesting and have had a look across the internet for some of the more interesting stories of people who have chosen this lifestyle. Here are my favorite three.



Photo credit: Wikipedia

Christopher McCandless

This is one of the more famous stories about people turning their backs on society. You may have read Christopher McCandless story from the very excellent book or maybe you have seen the movie (both titled “Into the Wild”). His story involves him leaving his family as a well educated man to chase his dreams of living life on his own terms. It leads him all over the United States of America and ultimately end with him trying to live in the wild in Alaska. Unfortunately his story does not have a happy ending with him starving to death. At least he did it his own way.



Photo: Maine Department of Public Safety via AP

Christopher Knight

Christopher lived in the wild for 27 years. His home was a campsite in the state of Maine. He became known by the locals as the North Pond Hermit. Over the years he was responsible for over 1,000 robberies. These robberies were small in nature, and in most instances was just him finding himself food or clothing. A lot of locals ended up just leaving him some food and clothes at the back door so they didn’t have to keep fixing their locks from the break in. He was finally caught in 2013 and is currently behind bars. Here’s an article giving more details.


Northwoods, Wisconsin

Photo credit – Flickr

Brent Ladd

Brent got tired of his life and became deeply depressed in the way his life was headed.  He wasn’t enjoying his career and was going through a divorce. So he went on and set up camp in the natural reserves of Northwoods, Wisconsin. Brett turned his back on society slowly. He still did the odd job for locals in exchange for food in the early days, but camped out in the open, often hearing nature just outside his camp. He trapped his own food and wore their skin as clothing. Here’s the story from his mouth.


Yes, it’s an interesting life choice, not one I would want to do personally. But there is something about living as one with nature that is very enticing. Just you, all alone, with no one to bother you. On life’s hard days that does sound like paradise. I could imagine doing that – living and eating like we use to thousands of years ago. I think I’d be picking a warm place to do it though. Those cold winters some of these guys choose don’t sound like much fun at all!

Going Trecking – Here’s what to take

There is nothing like going for a long walk through a national park, whether it be for an hour or for days at a time. It really brings you back to nature. The great thing is that it can be enjoyed all around the world, whether you are in Yellowstone National Park, Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park or anywhere (yeah, yeah, I know I’m promoting my last two posts!). I thought I would pass on a few of my tips on what to take with you on your adventure. What you exactly take will depend greatly on how long you go and where you are, but this advice should still help.

mobile phone

A Phone with a GPS

This is the most important item in your bag. Most National Parks get some sort of phone reception and this is your best form of communication with the outside world in case there is an emergency. Even if you have in and out reception, knowing your location via the GPS is invaluable.


A Map

And make sure it is a good one! Even if you have walked the path several times, you should always take a map. With phones and their wonderful apps this is made a lot easier as it lets you know exactly where you are. However, even if you have a map on your phone I suggest you still take a hard copy for back-up. Phones can get wet, damaged, run out of batteries or just plain lost. You will feel safer with a hard copy as backup. Too many people die every year due to getting lost in while hiking (example).


Food and Water

You need to take enough to last your walk and then some in case you get lost or it takes longer than expected. Remember when walking your intake of both food and water will be higher, so make allowances (here’s a good post on it). If you are relying on getting water from a stream/creek, make sure you have very recent knowledge that the water is flowing. However even if you know there is a stream, still take extra water. I know it’s heavy, but it’s not worth the risk. For food, berries and nuts are great snacks.



Remember you are carrying it on your back, so you want something lightweight. Having said that you need something sturdy enough to stand up to a little wind. I’m not going to make any recommendations here, but I suggest making it under 5 pounds if you are by yourself.

first aid kit

First Aid Kit

Even for short walks this is very important. I always take with me some basic bandages/band-aids etc for the half day walks. Don’t worry about splints. Nature is there for that. For long term hiking I’ll add headache tablets, a multipurpose knife, plastic bags, and swabs at a minimum. Here’s a good website with other suggestions.

I’ll add this in here even if it is not directly first aid – Sunscreen – Even if it isn’t hot out, put it on. The last thing you want when you return home is a bad sunburn.



Always take proper walking shoes/sneakers. If you are going off-track, or on a less walked track, make sure you wear proper hiking boots. Always take a sweater of some type. You may not feel like wearing it while walking, but at night it gets cold and you will thank me. Last but not least always wear a hat.

My final piece of advice is to always let someone know where you are going, even if you are only going for a short hike.

Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park

Two years ago I was lucky enough to visit the wonderful country of Japan. Now Japan is not known for its National Parks. In fact if you are strictly after nature there are better countries to visit throughout Asia. Having said that, there is plenty of great National Parks to see in this wonderful country. My favorite is Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park.

Mt Fuji

Firstly Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park is the closest park to Tokyo. In fact, from some locations within Tokyo you can actually see the parks main attraction Mt Fuji on a clear day. This makes it the countries most accessible.  There are plenty of tours available either from the surrounding towns, or on day trips from Tokyo. My suggestion is to spend at least two or three days there. There are plenty of accommodation options to choose from ranging from roughing it to 5 stars. I also suggest trying to go during the week, as a lot of locals use this place as a weekend getaway.

At the heart of the park is the beautiful heritage listed Mt Fuji. Mt Fuji is actually an active volcano that last erupted in 1708. It is one of Japan’s Three Holy Mountains alongside Mount Tate and Mount Haku. The mountain is snow capped for the majority of the year, but if you want that great photo, it will definitely be better in the colder months.

While Mt Fuji is the main highlight, there is plenty of other things to see. Lake Ashi is one of of those. The lake is a crater that last erupted less than 1,000 years ago. On a fine day it will also give you one of your best photos – Mount Fuji against a blue sky with a water reflection (see photo above).

While visiting the park we had a tour guide who was speaking in Japanese. I love the Japanese Language and while I’m not fluent in it, I’m also not completely lost when people are speaking it. Hearing about the park in their native language was a wonderful experience.

Around the park you will also find what seem like endless hot springs. Hot springs are caused by the warming of spring water by the volcanic activity under the ground surface. Enjoy the hot bath!

I also suggest taking the cable car up the mountain for magical views with Hakone Ropeway. You won’t be disappointed.

Here’s a video on this wonderful National Park. Please enjoy…

If Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, a couple of the other National Parks I liked were Ise-Shima National Park and Daisetsuzan National Park.

Yellowstone National Park

In my opening post I told you that one of my favorite National Parks in the world is Yellowstone National Park, so I thought I would start there.

There is a reason that Yellowstone National Park is one of America’s favorite National Park. First a little history…



Yellowstone is known for being named the first National Park in the United States of America back in 1872. Yellowstone NP can be found in the North West corner of the state of Wyoming and spans an area of 3,468 square miles. It has many different features (including lakes, canyons, rivers and mountain ranges) which makes it a popular destination to visit. Yellowstone Lake is one of the largest high-altitude lakes in North America and is centered over the Yellowstone Caldera, the largest super-volcano in North America.

Now that the history lesson is over, let’s get into why you want to visit. To put it simply, it has everything you could possibly want in a park. Let’s run through the list…



Where do I start… Hundreds of species of mammals, birds, fish and reptiles can be found in Yellowstone National Park.  Grizzly bears, wolves, and bison and elk live in the park and are often spotted.

Natural Wonder

Natural Wonders

The most famous of all the wonders in the park is the Old Faithful Geyser. Old Faithful is a geyser that shoots hot water into the air. Amazingly they are able to predict exactly when it is going to go off, down to the second. While Old Faithful is the most popular, there are plenty of other places within the National Park to see. I loved the color of some of the other hydrothermal system scattered around the park.

Yellowstone Map

Perfect Setup

Above is a map I’ve ‘borrowed’ off the website. As you can see the park is in a wonderful figure 8 shape. This means you can spend the day exploring without any back tracking. You can either complete the full figure 8 in a day, or if you want to take your time, just complete the top or bottom loop. There are so many wonderful things to see, all just a short walk from car parks located close to the road.


Camping Grounds

It’s definitely on the easier side when it comes to camping (you won’t be roughing it here).  The campsites are set up really well, with all the amenities you could ask for. There are plenty of other campers around, so you will make friends in no time. There are no motels/hotels within the park itself, so if you want to stay in the confines of a building, you will need to leave the park.  But don’t worry there are plenty just outside of the park. There are also areas within the park if you have a camper-van.

Let me introduce myself and this website

Check out my “About” page to get some background.

My name is Ranger Davie and I like to educate people. Generally I like educating people about conservation, but that is not the limit of my expertise. I have had formal teaching training and taught for several years, so I love standing in front of an eager crowd waiting to here what I have to say. Because I’m a bit older now I don’t teach as much, so I thought I would try and spread my knowledge with this website.

In the posts that will follow I will talk about my favorite conservation methods I have seen and been involved in. I will also take you on a journey to some of my favorite places in the world. Some parts of the world you may not know much about, but have amazing wildlife to see and experience.

I will also look into some of my favorite teaching methods (both effective for conservation and teaching in general).

I try to make my lessons (and hence this website) fun and I find that to be a great way to get a message across to the class (or in this case the world!).

I’m not sure how often I will be able to update this, but am hoping for once a week.

Today I thought I would leave you with an old educational clip of one my favorite parks in the United States of America (and the world) Yellowstone National Park.  Enjoy…