Saturday, December 27, 2014

Go Light, but Don’t Go Crazy – Mama’s Lightweight Philosophy Updated

Go light, but don’t go crazy. My lightweight hiking philosophy in a nutshell. My younger self thought of the wilderness as an escape. Yet I dragged along enough stuff from home, that the escape became a 50 lb. (23 kg) burden on my back. My back ached while hiking. The weight threw me off balance on river crossings. It put unnecessary wear and tear on my knees.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Getting into Shape for Back Country Hiking and Paddling Adventures

Getting ready for a wilderness adventure but wondering whether you're up for the challenge? No one wants to cut a trip short or slow his fellow adventurers down. Ensuring adequate fitness for our sport will increase our enjoyment, minimize feelings of uncertainty, and reduce aches and pains.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Finding Nature's Beauty Even on Cold, Grey Winter Days

It's the first day of winter. That time of year for cozy fires and indoor projects. It's also a great time of year to enjoy nature with greater solitude. There is nothing like the peaceful stillness of a winter day after a new fallen snow.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Devil's Doorway

A few weeks ago I set out to hike around Devil's Lake and ended up adjusting my plans due to a thick layer of hard packed ice and snow covering steep, rocky portions of the trail. Today I headed back to hike around the lake and check out the Devil's Doorway.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Dayhike at Horicon Marsh - December 2014

Sometimes the sign is so awesome you just can't walk away without a selfie. So named for the redhead ducks that nest at Horicon Marsh, the 2.5 mile (4.2 km) Redhead Hiking Trail joined with the 0.5 mile (0.8 km) Red Fox Trail and the 0.4 mile (0.7 km) Egret Trail make for about 3.4 miles (5.5 km) of easy hiking. While these trails reside at the north end of the marsh, the Bachhuber Flowage and Quick's Point Trails at the south end of the marsh, also adjoining loops, make for a similar hike.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

How to Help Kids Become Better Camping Neighbors - Teachable Moments

Left by backpackers, Governor Dodge State Park
Sometimes teachable moments pop up at inconvenient times. We pack for our backpacking trip carefully, we pack light. We plan foods that  allow us to keep our trash bag small and fairly clean for packing out.

Now we're out there. We check out a recently abandoned campsite only to find bread tossed into the brush and smoldering food cans in the fire ring. Do we walk away and pretend we never saw the messy campsite? Or do we recognize a teachable moment?

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

How to Gear Up for Backpacking on a Budget

Shopping for gear and clothing always starts out fun. Then I see price tags. My heart races and I feel like running, not walking, to the parking lot. Is your first reaction to gear shops sticker shock?

Saturday, December 6, 2014

How Time in the Wilderness Teaches Us Who We Are

Wilderness expeditions teach us who we really are. Our feet ache. It’s raining. Night noises rattle our confidence. Through the obstacles, we carry on. 

We hike over mountains because we believe we can. And if we think we cannot, we are right. We learn to accept help out of necessity, despite our fierce independence.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Dayhike - East Bluff Trail at Devil's Lake State Park

Devil's Lake is the largest state park in Wisconsin, one of the busiest, and beautiful in all seasons.  The park is 3 miles (4.8 km) south of Baraboo, WI. The East Bluff Trail and the East Bluff Woods Trail at Devils Lake combine to create a moderate 3 mile (4.8 km) loop with occasional views of the lake from the East Bluff Trail.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Day Hikes at Lake Kegonsa State Park

White Oak Trail, November 2014.
Lake Kegonsa State Park is located on Door Creek Road in Stoughton, Wisconsin. The park provides a nice venue for easy going family hikes. With about 5 miles (8.0 km) of well-maintained hiking trails, two nice playgrounds, and a beach area, there are enough rest and play stops to keep little ones happy.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Backcountry Gratitude, Thanksgiving 2014

Been a few disappointments this year. The most recent? Being laid off just before the holidays. But with rain comes rainbows, and there has been much to be thankful for this year. In honor of the day...

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Holiday Stocking Stuffer Ideas for Outdoor Enthusiasts

It's that time of the year again. Store catalogs tumbling from the mailbox and snow on the windowsill turn our thoughts to holiday merry making. Being the list maker than I am, I've generated some good stocking stuffer ideas this year. Hopefully this list will inspire you to think outdoorsy thoughts as you shop for the gear junkies in your life.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Day Hike at Governor Nelson State Park

Governor Nelson State Park is located on County Hwy M in Waunakee, Wisconsin along Lake Mendota. The park features 8.4 miles (13.5 km) of hiking trails meandering through prairie, oak savanna, woodland ecosystems. The trails form a series of connected loops, and it is easy to join some or all of the short trails to make a longer hike. These trails are easy in most areas, but moderate where the terrain is hilly.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Hiking During Hunting Season

Planning to take a hike? With hunting season upon us, hiker safety becomes more important than ever. For starters, I take the following four precautions.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Day Hike at New Glarus Woods

Located in New Glarus, Wisconsin on Highway Nn, the Havenridge Nature Trail at the New Glarus Woods State Park provides an easy to moderate 4.2 mile (6.8 km) hike meandering through woodlands and prairies.  The rolling hills add a moderate amount of exertion to this otherwise easy hike. This trail is wide, grassy, well-groomed, and easy to follow. It is particularly beautiful when prairie flowers are in bloom, or when fall colors peak.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Footwear for Kids (& Yourself) for Three-Season Hiking, Backpacking and Camping Adventures

Salomon XA Comp 7 Trail Runners.
The fun and excitement takes a backseat to getting warm and comfy once a chill sets in. Cold, wet feet easily chill the body. Hence, my vigilant search for proper footwear. I've finally settled on my three-season ensemble.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

How to Dress Kids (& Yourself) in Layers for Three-Season Hiking, Backpacking, and Camping Adventures

Family outings, even in the rain or cold, can be fun and exciting with proper preparation. That said, rainy or cold family outings offer potential misery with inappropriate clothing. Light weight, quick-drying items amenable to layering that pack compactly make for comfortable three-season outdoor adventures (32°F/0°C and above).

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Camping at High Cliff State Park

High Cliff State Park in the Village of Sherwood, Wisconsin is a popular spot for a picnic, hike, or jog near the Fox Cities. With beautiful limestone cliffs alongside Lake Winnebago, High Cliff State Park features about 16 miles (25.7 km) trails including an 8.5 mile (13.7 km) horse and bicycle trail. It also features a marina, beach, lookout tower with a 30 mile (48.3 km) view, great views of the lake from the cliff top, Indian burial mounds, a statue of Chief Red Bird, and a general store museum that doubles as a nature center (with limited summer hours).

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Camping at Lake Kegonsa State Park

Lake Kegonsa State Park provides a nice venue for relaxing family camping trips. With a total of 4 to 5 miles of well-maintained hiking trails, two nice playgrounds, a beach, and a boat/canoe launch there is enough easy going fun to keep busy. However, none of the adventure is so big a challenge as to overwhelm the kids. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Day Hike on the West Bluff Trail at Devil's Lake State Park

Devil's Lake is the largest state park in Wisconsin, one of the busiest, and incredibly beautiful.  Starting from the North Shore, the loop to the top of the West Bluff returning along the lake shore makes for a beautiful hike.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Backpacking at Governor Dodge State Park, Oct. 4-5, 2014

With Saturday's forecast calling for highs of 44 F and lows around freezing, we decide to test our family's three season backpacking skills.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Camping at Hartman Creek State Park for a Leaf Peap Paddle on the Chain of Lakes, Sept. 26-28, 2014

With the forecast calling for perfect autumn weather, I envisioned sunny blue skies and aqua water framed by autumn’s first colors. Hesitant to bring it up as we just car camped at Hartman Creek State Park and paddled the Chain of Lakes near Waupaca, Wisconsin in July, I felt certain my family would veto the idea. Although my husband prefers the thrill of new places and what’s around the next bend, he kindly said yes.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

How to Gear up Your Camp Kitchen – Boundary Waters Trip, 2014

MSR stove.
Back country cooking requires lightweight, compact kitchen gear. Canoe campers can tolerate a few more luxuries than backpackers, but every ounce must be portaged between lakes. With this in mind, we packed for our family's 2014 Boundary Waters Trip.

Friday, September 12, 2014


What is this blog about?

Like to hike, paddle, and camp? Mama’s Basecamp is a blog created for your entertainment. In the process of entertaining, Mama’s Basecamp provides helpful tips to enhance your outdoor adventures. Stop by to talk camp eats, camping with kids, hiking, canoe tripping, and more.

About Mama (a.k.a. Base Camper)


An engineer, writer, and outdoor enthusiast, Mama lives for the solitude and beauty of nature. Before saying “I do” at age 40, Mama backpacked the trails of the American Southeast, Southwest, and Midwest. In the absence of opportunities with friends, she tripped solo. Today, her time in nature still provides solitude and beauty But it also provides opportunities to forge deeper connections with family and friends.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Car Camping at Buckhorn State Park

Rainbow at sunset.
Greeted by a rainbow at sunset, our car camping weekend began gloriously. My daughter and I stopped setting up the tent to look at a rainbow as the sun set, causing us to need headlamps to finish the job of blowing up mats. Yes, our trip involved yet another last minute decision, and a rush to the park at the end of a long work week. We opted for car camping at Buckhorn State Park. The better (backpacking & walk-in) sites had already been booked in advance by early planners.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Backcountry Eats - Tips for Eleven Easy, Lightweight, and Inexpensive Prepackaged Foods from the Grocery Store for Backpacking and Paddling Expeditions

Mama's family loves camp eats!
Recently a friend looked at me incredulously, and asked, "What do you eat when you're in the wilderness for a week?" After I ran down my list of go-to pack foods, he made a confession. When he does weekend kayak trips with his buddies, they fast 2 ½ days at a time to avoid carrying food. Really?

Friday, August 29, 2014

Mama’s New Addiction - A Boundary Waters Trip Report

At the Horseshoe Lake to Allen Lake portage.
In the past I served as “Director of Outdoor Recreation” for our family. Director, step aside! With his boyhood passion for canoe camping reignited, my husband recently began surprising me by suggesting and orchestrating family canoe trips.

Having just returned from our first ever Boundary Waters Canoe Area adventure, I can say only one thing. The man is brilliant. What a fantastic idea for a family camping trip. Boundary Waters...I’m hooked! We’ve been back only a few days, and already it’s impossible to stop scrolling through trip photos and daydreaming about our next Boundary Waters adventure.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Camp Chores for Kids - 8 Tips for Chores Your Kids Can Do In Camp

You put in a full day at work, drove several hours, and now you’re trying to get unpacked as quickly as possible so that with camp set, you can relax before dark. Your child won’t stop whining and seems to be intentionally getting underfoot. What’s the solution?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Four Tips for Keeping Kids Motivated to Hike or Paddle

Ever get the family packed and ready to hike or paddle only to have one stubborn little mule dig his or her heels in and refuse to budge. Now what?

Monday, August 18, 2014

Camping with Kids - Eight Activities to Keep Kids Busy and Engaged in the Outdoors

Do you live to camp, only to have your trips soured by unhappy kids? For a time, my hiking, paddling, and camping adventures were sabotaged by my unengaged child. Through trial and (ahem) mostly error I implemented a new set of rules to hike, paddle, and camp by.

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Secret to Camping, Hiking, and Paddling with Kids Series – Part 1

Looking for Fish.
I live to camp. But my outdoor adventures were ruined time and again by my small child’s misery. It got so bad, I considered putting my nature habit on hold. Until…