Lying on the floor of the forest I look up at the stars through the canopy. The air feels warm as it brushes against my bare skin. I take a sip of wine and nestle into my sleeping bag. It’s 9pm, I'm on my own camping in a forest, on top of a mountain, overlooking a beach in California. It feels great!
4 Reasons why I recommend a night in the wilderness:
- Doing something so basic creates a child like sense of wonder and awe for the natural world
- Makes us stop and appreciate everything exactly as it is - great for practising mindfulness!
- It doesn't take much effort or cost a lot of money and is a brilliant way to connect with people
- Feels pretty brave to do something completely different like this!
Here's a story that might inspire you to create your own wild camping experience:
My California road trip started a week ago with the global GoPro Hero5 launch in Squaw Valley, Tahoe. From there I explored Lake Tahoe, Yosemite and now I’m on the Pacific Coast with two more nights before flying home to London.
I find myself at Stinson Beach, a beach town within 20 minutes from Golden Gate Bridge. I buy guacamole and crisps and ask the shop keeper what there is to do here, “go to the beach” is her reply so that’s exactly what I do.
A few hours pass and it’s getting late in the day. I’m feeling adventurous and decide to see if I can find somewhere to camp. What happens next feels like something out of a movie.
I take the Panoramic Highway (love the road names in California!) and drive up a road that twists and turns gaining height over the ocean.
I come to Mount Tamplais State Park and spot signs for camping. Before I set up camp I continue up the road as there’s a sunset demanding my attention.
The sight of the sunset exploding across the horizon takes my breath for a second. The colours, the vastness of the view stretching over the Ocean, the depth of the beauty unfolding is just sublime. It’s a Californian sunset overlooking the Pacific Ocean, can’t really go wrong!
The sun drops below the horizon and I know it’s time to find my camp spot. I head to the woods and settle in for the night. I lay there, listening to the sounds of the forest. I replay everything that’s happened today, savouring each moment that has led me here, to be in this moment.
Life is completely still with no distractions or pressure. I don’t want this night to end.
Then I get freaked out and think what on earth am I doing! I’ve always had an over reactive imagination in the dark and now I feel very exposed. I try to calm my mind, but it’s too late, I’ve opened a can of worms.
Be rational and come up with a plan, I tell myself.
I move my bivvy closer to other campers and feel more settled in the security of knowing other people are close by. I fall into a deep sleep almost like I’m being rocked by the forest and the trees swaying in the wind.
I wake with first light and enjoy the fifty shades of blue and explosion of colour and light that welcomes a new day.
This reminds me of all the simple things I love; a night in the wilderness, sunsets and sunrises, time on my own and telling stories that hopefully inspire you to create your own adventures big, or small, and see what nature has to offer.
To sleep in the forest, you need a sleeping bag, roll mat and divvy bag or hammock. Try it!
NB: It is legal to wild camp in Scotland where they have the Right to Roam Act. In the rest of the UK you need the landowners permission.