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Washington Solo Survival Camping: Where to, How to, When to?

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Washington Solo Survival Camping: Where to, How to, When to?

Howdy Folks!

A friend told me he went solo survival camping this weekend and now I want to do it.

I need to know where in Washington I can go to camp off grid. Somewhere I can build my own shelter (one night). Preferably somewhere not bear prone. Somewhere I can park my vehicle, or get dropped off. Would like somewhere that I could make a camp fire and not draw too much attention. I want to make my own shelter from a tarp and sticks and rope and such. I'm on Whidbey Island but can travel up to 3-4 hours away. Any suggestions or tips?

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Bellingham...
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1. Re: Washington Solo Survival Camping: Where to, How to, When to?

I don’t think you can camp in unauthorized spots. Even backcountry has camping spots set aside, and rules about where you can build campfires. I’m wondering if you intend to camp illegally given that you’re concerned about drawing attention to yourself. If so, stupid idea. DON’T.

It’s not my scene, but I think what you’re planning is at best frowned upon. 1) it goes against the idea of “leave no trace”. 2) it’s not a bright idea to go into the wilderness unprepared without shelter. Really, it’s not. The state isn’t amused when they have to save idiots from themselves. I’m trying to not sound harsh, but...your post just sends up a lot of red flags.

For more information:

https:/…wilderness-camping.htm

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2. Re: Washington Solo Survival Camping: Where to, How to, When to?

You can 'wild camp' in some locations. I recommend asking on the Backpacker magazine forum or the NWHikers.net forum.

Bears live in the woods. You need to travel smart.

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3. Re: Washington Solo Survival Camping: Where to, How to, When to?

@ Marie M Thank you for your input. I am not trying to do anything illegal. That's why I asked the questions, I want to camp somewhere where making a camp fire is legal.. and by saying "without drawing too much attention" I mean I want to be alone, away from other people.. legally. And what about my post gives the idea that I cant "leave no trace"? I won't be building any permanent structures or damaging anything in the environment. The only trace I might leave is a small camp fire remains that I will ensure gets put out completely and spread out so it will be unnoticeable. I don't even need a camp fire really.. Thanks for the input but it didn't really help me.

Edited: 12:45 pm, June 12, 2018
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4. Re: Washington Solo Survival Camping: Where to, How to, When to?

@PacificNWFamily Thank you for your input. I will check out those forums.

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5. Re: Washington Solo Survival Camping: Where to, How to, When to?

Good advice above. In addition to the laws/rules issue, there are just too many millions of us living close to wilderness here to ignore Leave No Trace ethics (https://lnt.org/learn/7-principles). If everyone is ignoring rules about camping in established camp spots, cutting or even just gathering limbs for fire or shelter, having fires where illegal, not using bearproof containers/systems for food, etc, etc, the impact on the landscape becomes very obvious very quickly, and in alpine environments like we have, it doesn't recover. Bears are common everywhere by the way. They are generally afraid of people and don't bother our camps, but one reason for that is people are so good about proper food storage.

You certainly can go backpacking, and you can certainly do challenging routes, and you can do this in a manner that is ethical and doesn't harm the landscape. We have some amazing places here and I hope you can get out and see them--check your local library for books on routes, trails, etc. If I were you I'd reconsider the tarp idea, and bring a tent OR one of those backpacking hammocks. Either way you are bringing a man made item, but there is less impact with a tent or hammock. A tent also keeps rodents from investigating your sleeping bag while you're sleeping.

ETA: I think Marie and I got the idea you weren't into LTN principles because it didn't sound like you were planning on camping on an established spot. I'm glad to hear you are planning on an ethical trip. Campfire rules vary by location--you always need to check--but in general you can't have one above 5000'.

Edited: 12:55 pm, June 12, 2018
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6. Re: Washington Solo Survival Camping: Where to, How to, When to?

@Christy1 Thank you for your input, it was very helpful!

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7. Re: Washington Solo Survival Camping: Where to, How to, When to?

Another tip--it's actually gotten pretty tough to get away from people here. If you can go on weekdays, it will be a lot better. Generally the rule is, the further from the Puget Sound area you get, and the worse of a road you have to travel down to get to the trailhead, the fewer people there will be. So, the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, where many access roads are paved, and are an hour from Seattle? Mobbed. Colville National Forest, which is 5-6+ hours from Puget Sound ? Not mobbed.

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8. Re: Washington Solo Survival Camping: Where to, How to, When to?

Hi again

Are you a backpacker? If not, that's where I'd recommend that you start. Follow accepted practices and get some experience. Then lighten your load and try some "survival camping".

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9. Re: Washington Solo Survival Camping: Where to, How to, When to?

All the posters gave good advice, but I think PacificNWFamily put the most important point first. Unless you are an experienced backpacker, you should not consider solo survival camping in an area where there are no other people. I live just outside Olympic National Park and know many people in rescue. We have lost at least 4 people already this year, and the high season for camping is just beginning. The rescue people loathe unprepared hikers with a fury that reflects their heartbreak and frustration over those they couldn't save.

If you are an experienced backpacker, research the national parks in the region to choose a site. You will need to obtain a permit for just about anywhere in the backcountry. There will be bears wherever there is wilderness, and you will need to be prepared for proper food storage and camp hygiene. It is cruel to the bears to keep a sloppy camp as it can cause them to associate people with food, which can lead to their deaths at the hands of the rangers.

The fire season is going to start soon. This will mean severe restrictions on campfires. I am of the belief that wilderness campers should never build fires in the summer at all; they should carry camp stoves.

There are too many of us for what little wilderness remains. We must all behave super responsibly, or even that will be gone. Last year a giggling brat destroyed some of the rarest, loveliest, most precious landscape in the world. We have to do better by our wilderness.

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10. Re: Washington Solo Survival Camping: Where to, How to, When to?

Sorry, Zack, Christy’s right- I had assumed you were not camping somewhere approved; if you’re planning to camp according to the rules, fantastic.

I like the idea of a hammock. It would give the experience of living outdoors and lighten your load.

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