Camping is often lauded as a way for harried urbanites to re-connect with nature. Well maybe. Decades ago, I used to go on canoe trips to Quetico Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada, sometimes with friends and sometimes with family. To do these trips, we had to pack all the food we would need for the length of the trip. Not packing enough food would mean going hungry since there are no stores in the park. Then at some point, I took along a fishing rod and caught fish to supplement our meals and surprisingly, my experience of the camping trips changed.
The best way I could describe the new relationship was that it no longer felt like space travel where you had to bring absolutely everything with you that you needed to survive. Once I was able to catch fish, my environment took care of some of my needs. I was not entirely reliant on my environment to provide me with food, but I was not entirely reliant on what I had brought with me either. I felt a new bond with my surroundings. My surroundings now provided for me. My presence in the wood and lake country was in a sense approved of by my environment. I could say that I now filled an ecological niche, that of a fish eater. I was no longer simply a tourist on a life line that led back to the civilized eco-niche that I had come from.
Yes, I was by no means living off the land simply because I caught a few fish, but the fact that the land I traveled through provided me with at least a part of my sustenance changed my relationship with it.
|Camping in Kings Canyon, NP. The yurt dwarfed by tall pines and the canyon wall.|
|The yurt after our relocation to Sequoia National Forest.|
So far I haven't even mentioned backpacking. Backpacking gets even closer to space travel than car camping. For backpacking, at least the way it's done these days, you need all sorts of specialized gear that you can only get in a high end camping store. Everything needs to be light weight, including your food which resembles the food of astronauts.
But you can still have some sort of camping experience that doesn't resemble space travel if you are willing to be creative and accept the fact that you can't have humans invading an environment without having some impact on it.