About 15 years ago I was hiking barefoot up a mountain trail with a friend and started talking about my crazy idea to reinvent backpacking gear to match the philosophy of barefoot walking. Here I was breaking one of the rules I was taught during my Outdoor Leadership Training…that is…walking barefoot. We were taught to wear heavy boots and protect our feet from possible injuries. But this was grounding and re-awakening my body to the earth and elements. I was balancing my circadian rhythms, expanding my ability to jump in the cold mountain creeks, and healing from 20 years of Multiple Chemical Sensitivities. How many other teachings and practices could I adapt to this philosophy?

The main thing that drove me in this direction was I developed Auto Immune Disfunction and Multiple Chemical Sensitivities which meant I was allergic to modern backpacking gear like tents and sleeping bags. So in my fantasy I was seeing my entire camping gear in organic fabrics. Problem is I didn’t know how to sew. Over the next decade I would learn sewing and experiment with natural fiber fabrics until I would invent the entire line of outdoor gear now available from Lucky Sheep.

I was not only allergic to modern toxic camping gear, but I was even allergic to the mold growing naturally in the forest. After a couple of years on the Primal/Paleo Diet and getting rid of the toxins in my house I eventually was strong enough to sleep outside again and not react to the mold. Now I started experimenting with making an organic canvas tent coated with beeswax and a wool sleeping bag. I would go to the woods and camp by water. The grounding and negative ions powerfully revived me. I would bring a few days supply of fresh paleo foods and head to find an amazing healing oasis in the Smokey Mountain National Park or Pisgah National Forest where I lived. I would sleep a magical deep blissful sleep, wake up and bath in the water and sun, rest, eat, sleep, hike, eat, sleep, swim,
sunbathe and sleep.

I couldn’t get enough. I had found the fountain of youth, which was a combination of all the natural elements and exposing my bare body against them. The Earth Sun and Nature were bringing me back to life. I would come back down off the mountain and tell all my friends. I sounded like a crazy man but was convincing to some who begged  me to show them how I do it. Over a period of time I have developed and documented my system of Natural Camping. I will be posting ongoing posts explaining how my system works and simple steps for how you can do it to.

Part of my healing journey was also spiritual and emotional. I was practicing some yogic techniques for expanding consciousness. I found out, this FOREST BATHING was a big part of the ancient yogic practices and many seekers would go to the wilderness to break through the obstacles of the mind that were not accessible in everyday life. I found this wilderness immersion was enhancing my yoga practice and I could meditate deeply and access inner dimensions not available in my everyday life. I especially found being near a moving creek or waterfall would open up my psyche and allow me to travel the universe and activate my experience of causeless joy and bliss. These smells and sounds, the cold water activating my skin, the sun melting the stress…everything in the forest mixing together into some kind of magical alchemy. Some of my inner experiences came out in poetry and here is one example I will share here.

My Bones Remember

By Patrick Clark

My bones know these waters

They tumble and bubble

Foam and smash

Crash and bounce

Sing and dance

Riccoche down the mountain

Over boulders, logs, moss

And play with the fish and salamanders

On their way, passing through

The valley they carved

Sparkle and shine

In rays of mist,

mixed with dappled

Sunlight

My bones know this well

My bones remember

And sink down into

A peace

A silence with no

Coming nor going

Yet nothing but

Coming and going

A stillness hanging in between

Each coming and going

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