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Summer Camping Secrets: On The Trail

Once you've left camp, these tips and techniques will make your on-trail miles more enjoyable.

>> Moose In summer, scope for these behemoths (they can tower six feet tall and weigh more than 1,200 pounds) at dawn and dusk in marshes, willow ponds, and rivers. Approach them from downwind, but stay at least 50 yards away—moose will charge humans who seem to pose a threat. Hot spot Grand Teton National Park, on the String Lake Trail
>> Bald eagles You can see them throughout North America in any season, but in May and June, parents hang out near the aerie, caring for eaglets. Spot the five-foot-wide stick nests atop trees and cliffs near rivers and lakes. Hot spot Canoe or kayak any of the lakes in Voyageurs National Park (p. 98).
>> Bighorn sheep Find them on steep, rocky slopes in the mountains and high deserts of the Rockies and Southwest. Scan for white rumps standing out from the rocks. You’ll find ewes with lambs April through June. In fall, listen for rams butting heads during the rut. Hot spot Glacier National Park, on the Highline Trail

Grab a shoulder strap with one hand and the pack’s grab loop (the webbing loop located just below the top lid) with the other, then heave the pack up onto one bent knee. Next, slide an arm through one shoulder strap. Swing the pack across your back as you straighten up—lifting with your legs—and thread your other arm through. Option #2 Prop up the pack on a log or boulder and slither in. 


Reach for the raingear (duh), but wear it right: Open the pit zips and pockets to prevent overheating, which will make you sweat and feel clammy. Keep your jacket’s hood out of your eyes by pulling it over a billed cap, and wear gaiters under your rain paints to prevent drips into your boot cuff.

First line of defense: Put your pack on a diet. “Every pound on your back puts seven pounds of pressure on your knee joints when ascending,” says Ryan Hutchins, a Wyoming-based NOLS instructor. Also, use poles, which reduce impact on your knees (especially on the downhill). Too late? Pop an ibuprofen, take smaller steps, and when you hit camp, fill a bladder with cold water and “ice” them.

To cut exposure to your mouth and eyes, spritz a cotton bandanna (deet melts synthetics), and tie it around your neck.

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