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#94006 - 04/09/08 04:20 AM camp site selection
ringtail Offline

Registered: 08/22/02
Posts: 2296
Loc: Colorado Rockies
The thread about waterproof tents makes the topic of camp site selection relevant.

I often look for a place that I think a deer would bed down to select my camp site.

Established campgrounds are NOT good sites because current conditions should always be considered. No one site is good for all conditions.

During bug season I avoid camping near water and hunt for a breezy ridge.

In cooler weather I try to avoid cold air drainage corridors.

Those compacted and dished sites are OK if I have my hammock, but not for tents.

With a tent I look for sandy soil and duff.

Dense vegetation wind shelters create less swirling than hard objects like boulders.

How do you use what mother nature provides?

#94007 - 04/09/08 06:10 AM Re: camp site selection [Re: ringtail]
DTape Online   content

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 659
Loc: Upstate NY
Whether in a hammock or on the ground I always make sure to "look up".

#94008 - 04/09/08 11:04 AM Re: camp site selection [Re: DTape]
chaz Offline

Registered: 10/22/07
Posts: 1149
Loc: Tennessee
Yes, look up and hang out. I think on my next trip. I'm planning to tie a strong rope over my hammock and use as a ridge line under my fly. I normally just tie the fly off at each end with grommets. But to avoid a decent sized limb slapping me while I sleep I'm gonna try the ridgeline. Any thoughts welcome.

#94009 - 04/09/08 04:55 PM Re: camp site selection [Re: ringtail]
oldranger Offline

Registered: 02/23/07
Posts: 1735
Loc: California (southern)
Hiking a lot in the west, I am always looking for a handy rockshelter. Accommodations have ranged from good to superb. Absolutely waterproof, good ventilation, incredibly lightweight, and often a fine view. I would just caution that if you choose such a site, look out for the frequently present archaeology and be sure not to disturb anything. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

#94010 - 04/09/08 05:36 PM Re: camp site selection [Re: ringtail]
hootyhoo Offline

Registered: 12/14/06
Posts: 686
Loc: Cyberspace
Not sure why, but the fallings limbs have been a problem this past year. It may be somehow related to the drought we have had, not sure.
I have been staying under hemlocks lately if possble - I try to find one that is not appears to have safe trees around it. There just never seems to be a lot of fallen branches under hemlocks - the limbs of the hemlock must help to divert falling limbs from other trees.
I found this sweet site about 3 weeks ago - there was a wishbone shaped, large limb hanging in the hemlock, so I found a long dead limb and began whacking at it - and I'll be danged if that wishbone didn't jump right off its perch and try to impale me. But once cleared out the hemlock gave me peice of mind and I slept well that night.

#94011 - 04/09/08 08:24 PM Re: camp site selection [Re: ringtail]
wandering_daisy Offline

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2771
Loc: California
Mother Nature and long ago melted glaciers provide rock beds as smooth as a baby's butt. This is my favorite campsite. Very easy with a bivy sack. You look around for just the right amount of concavity. One of my best sites was in Bench Canyon between the Blue Lakes with a fantastic view of the west side of the Minerets at sunset. I lay there and watched the alpenglow until a full moonrise. Moments like those make me want to stay in the mountains forever!

#94012 - 04/09/08 09:19 PM Re: camp site selection [Re: wandering_daisy]
Jimshaw Offline

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
you paint a lovely picture there. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
I have enjoyed some of those glacier smoothed spots. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" /> After brushing off any sand, you can lay right on them they're so smooth. Hard though... <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />
Jim <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/cool.gif" alt="" />

P.S. So anyway to add something. Decide if you want your tent to be in the morning sun and place appropriately. Directly under trees isn't always cool, and under the edges can get half a ton of snow dropped on you.

I like to tent on climbers perches - smooth level granite spots high in the rocks, where you have to tie out your tent cause only pitons are gonna go into rock.

And its not a real good idea to camp in the home territory of large carnivores, bear, lion, gators...
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

#94013 - 04/09/08 10:18 PM Re: camp site selection [Re: Jimshaw]
OregonMouse Offline

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6430
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
My own rules (most of which have been posted in one form or other above):

I look up to avoid "widowmakers," whether large dead branches or nearby dead trees.

Pitching fairly close to a tree canopy helps avoid tent condensation, particularly on frosty nights. However, if it has rained hard, the trees will drip on the tent all night even if the weather has cleared.

I look for a site that will not become a lake in a cloudburst. Ignoring that rule is how I discovered that a soggy synthetic bag is no warmer than a soggy down bag!

All things being equal, I'd rather be on duff than bare dirt. Pine needles are easier to clean out of the tent the next morning than is mud. Grass is great, but in order to avoid environmental damage I avoid it unless there's no other place to go. If I have to camp on grass, I pitch the tent at bedtime and take it down as soon as I get up to minimize trampling time. And I never pitch a tent on or where I'll be walking or sitting on mountain heather, which is very easily damaged by being walked or sat upon.

A ridgetop campsite can be lovely in nice weather but highly dangerous in a lightning storm. In a storm, you also don't want to be close to a single or a few tall trees, or out in the middle of a meadow where you're a high point.

A place where the surrounding bushes have leaves of three (I'm thinking of a campsite on Big Sur) is not a great place to be, especially for those who have to make middle-of-the-night excursions.

If you're tarping instead of tenting, you don't want to be within a half mile of the giant anthills I found in the American River valley on the east side of Chinook Pass in Washington. The anthills were taller than my then 5-year-old grandson, and ants were everywhere!

In the Cascades, with their luxuriant undergrowth, very often the only tent site you can use is whatever you can find with room enough for your tent floor, especially on a holiday weekend.
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

#94014 - 04/09/08 10:32 PM Re: camp site selection [Re: ringtail]
bryanonfilm Offline

Registered: 09/08/07
Posts: 118
I like to camp somewhere near a water source, as there's nothing like the sound of a river to wake you in the morning. Any business (cooking, peeing, etc..) is taken care of away from the water, besides sleeping and admiring the beauty: <-- A very peaceful spot.

As for using what nature provides, I like to camp where there's deadwood that lends itself to a nice warm fire. <-- My buddy with a drying rack I fastened out of some dead branches.

#94015 - 04/10/08 09:35 AM Re: camp site selection [Re: ringtail]
Berserker Offline

Registered: 05/10/04
Posts: 493
Loc: Lynchburg, VA
1. I look up for dead limbs.
2. I look around for dead trees.
3. I find a suitable relatively flat spot that appears to be out of the way of dead stuff (based on the results of performing 1 & 2), and that does not appear to be a place water would pool in or run off through.

#94016 - 04/10/08 07:31 PM Re: camp site selection [Re: ringtail]
sarbar Offline

Registered: 07/15/05
Posts: 1453
Loc: WA
For me I try to think of a few things:

1) Where will I cause the least damage. If it is say near a lake or on the PCT or at Mt. Rainier NP you often have no choice: you take the established campsite. After that I start thinking....

2) Look up, around and all over. Which way will the wind come at night? The trees above and rocks nearby.

3) In that area where will my tent fit best - when with others sharing an area we have to think this out.

Last but not least....I try to avoid alpine bowls - while pretty and great in early evening/late morning....they get cold and dew filled at night - especially with a cold wind pouring down a snow field all night across an alpine lake. Brrrrr.....

I also think about what would happen if a freak storm came in and make sure I am not too close to any water source.
Freezer Bag Cooking, Trail Cooking, Recipes, Gear and Beyond:

#94017 - 04/10/08 09:35 PM Re: camp site selection [Re: bryanonfilm]
OregonMouse Offline

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6430
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Bryan, just so you know, most National Park and Forest Service jurisdictions out here in the west require you to camp at least 100 or even 200 feet (depending on jurisdiction) away from any water source and also from the trail. You therefore will want to avoid stream bank and lake shore camping during your western trip this summer. A lot of mountain streams are plenty loud enough to drown out most other sound even at 200 feet away, if that's any comfort. Since in bear country it's advisable to do your cooking and eating away from the camp site, the creek bank or lake shore is a great place to enjoy your dinner.

Edited by OregonMouse (04/10/08 09:39 PM)
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

#94018 - 04/24/08 07:22 AM Re: camp site selection [Re: OregonMouse]
bryanonfilm Offline

Registered: 09/08/07
Posts: 118
Thank you for the info Oregon Mouse, you've been a great help in planning my trip.


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