Words & Images: Luke Dimech
“Why do you do camping in this weather, isn’t it cold?”
This is a question I get asked far too often, my answer is always a simple one, I love it, I don’t give them much more than that. The truth is being in the cold wild is something I have found that stills my mind. It stills it like running, which is another great escape to me. I run for hours, it’s like meditation and therapy all at the same time. I am also aware that not everyone wants to run for miles so these words are going to give you an insight or just my opinion of why it’s so important to wild camp in the winter and be in nature for a day or so at a time.
I think there is something primal about it, camping that is, not glamping which seems to be quite the trend during the summer, with a massive group of friends, in the sunshine, a ton of beer and blow up beds. That is not what I’m going to be talking about. I choose to talk about harsh, cold weather, darkness by four thirty, wind blowing a hoolie, minimal gear and having to chop wood to stay warm, wild camping. Stripping away all your usual creature comforts and stopping in a place that few have stopped. This may sound like madness to some but if you have prepared for it then it is one of the most beautiful things you can do.
Our eyes and minds are constantly being put through it with all the terrible news we see, gossip on social media and a barrage of marketing attempts trying to penetrate your subconscious into believing that your life will be far more complete with this object in your possession or that if you are in a relationship like your friends on Facebook, who only show the best of it and never the worst, then you will feel complete and happy like the ending of a Disney movie, till death do you part. We need a break from this from time to time but our modern day lives have been built around a consumerist world so I understand how difficult it is to move away from it but that is why I like to leave it all behind and stay where there is nothing but trees, wildlife, unfamiliar noises and my camera.
Out in the cold wild I think about shelter and fire first and foremost, rain can shatter the soul quickly and can help the frost and cold creep into your core. Its days like that when I stop thinking about those “things” I “need” in my life and my instincts take over. When my hot breath is visible in the cold air and a blanket of frost covers the ground, you forget what warm really is and the simpler pleasures in life become the most important. I promise you have never had a better cup of coffee than one on the morning after sleeping in the darkness of a forest, simple hot black liquid, no flat whites, not lattes, no specialty coffee prepared by a barista adorning the greatest of beards and a bowtie, just plain black and hot. As you pour it down your throat, you instantly feel the warmth of it thawing out your frozen limbs and let me tell you…. It is wonderful!
It’s a short journey to take you back to the simple things, but this journey, be it 1 night, 1 week or however long you can cope with, will remind you of how lucky you are to live in the time we do. The luxury of a hot bath, the taste of a burger and fries and the paradise of a heated home. A few nights in the cold wild just a short trip off the beaten path will teach you how to live. Go sit by a fire you made in the cold long night with a friend sharing stories and whisky, you will not regret it.