What you’ll learn about life by sleeping in a tent

In the buzz of our hectic lives, there’s an easy answer to leaving all the stress behind: camping. There is nothing simpler than setting off into the woods with a backpack and a tent.

Forget the cell phone, the laptop and the social-media feeds. A tent allows for other pleasures: reading a book, studying flowers, counting snowflakes, making conversation. In an age when so many of us use so much of it, it’s amazing how little space a person really needs. Just 8 feet by 4 feet will do. Maybe even less.

Home is where the tent's pitched | Photo - Liam Harrap
Home is where the tent’s pitched. Photo: Courtesy of Liam Harrap

I’ve lived a large part of my life in a tent. Almost a third, to be truthful. Heading off into the mountains, skiing onto glaciers — they both require tents. Tents may be the poor man’s hotel, but they can take you to sights worthy of kings.

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Carrying your life on your back teaches you the true meaning of value. If you need something badly, you’ll spend the energy to carry it. If you don’t, you’ll soon hurl that jetsam off a steep and tall cliff, laughing maniacally as it gets bashed to bits.

The more space we have, the more we tend to fill it with junk. So keep it simple.

| Photo - Liam Harrap
Adventure lives outside your tent. Photo: Courtesy of Liam Harrap

If you’ve never slept a night under waterproof fabric, please do it. You’ll hear the pitter-patter of rain, the creaking of branches in the wind, the howl of wolves and the love song of a cricket. Instead of looking at nature through a window, you become part of it.

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As simple as it is, of course, tent life isn’t easy. The trail may be muddy, the hills steep, the weather dreadful and the hiking boots always wet. However, as many of you know, anything worth having or experiencing doesn’t come easy.

A tent makes the most unlikely place habitable | Photo - Liam Harrap
A tent makes the most unlikely place habitable. Photo: Courtesy of Liam Harrap

Through unpleasantness and hardship come appreciation and happiness. Life isn’t easy, so get used to it.

If anything, tents make an outdoor person thankful: Without them, some trips wouldn’t be possible. And some adventurers would perish. Climbers on Everest wouldn’t last a night if they didn’t have some fabric propped up with aluminum poles waiting at camp to protect against 60 mph winds.

Camp 1 on Mount Logan - the highest peak in Canada. The walls around the tents are built for protection against wind and snow. | Photo - Liam Harrap
Camp 1 on Mount Logan — the highest peak in Canada. The walls around the tents are built for protection against wind and snow. Photo: Courtesy of Liam Harrap Photograph by Cody Pickens

Some of the best experiences of my life have happened with my tent. It’s important to leave the tent once or twice a night, because you may witness an event worthy of retelling to the grandchildren.

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Of course, tents go best in multiples. Bring your friends and head off into the woods. Make some memories and watch the clouds roll in.

| Photo - Liam Harrap
A group of tents in White Goat Wilderness, Alberta. Photo: Courtesy of Liam Harrap

Don’t worry — you have shelter and can finish that Nicholas Sparks novel while nestled in your sleeping bag as the storm outside rages.

Whatever 2017 brings, make at least one of your adventures tent-worthy.

—Liam Harrap

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