• Hannah Smentkowski

Alone in the Wilderness: What is it really like to camp by yourself?

To put it mildly, I'm an introvert.

I prefer to do almost everything by myself, from grabbing a beer at the brewery to going on outdoor adventures. Not only am I an introvert, but I also have anxiety issues, so to summarize, I am a nervous wreck when I go on adventures alone. Even with this in mind, I still prefer to camp by myself, and I'm hoping I can inspire you to try the same no matter your circumstance.

The best parts about camping alone are: creating confidence and finding inner peace.

Whenever I do things on my own I almost always come out the other end so much more confident, and this goes double for camping. When you're camping you are dealing with your survival. You are carrying everything you need to live on your back. When I cook my food over a tiny backpacking stove, or filter water from a near by stream, these small acts make me feel like I have all of the knowledge and control to take on anything. Also, being alive at the end is a pretty good indicator that you've got this.

I believe finding inner peace is best achieved when you are absolutely alone. I've discovered no easier way to acquire that tranquility than by driving 20 miles into the vast and empty mountain wilderness. There is something about nature that brings out the best in us. For centuries humans have found emotional refuge in the bowels of the wilderness, and this is no different today. I mean, I legitimately hug trees to feel better sometimes. Don't knock it 'till you've tried it.

My biggest concerns when camping alone are: finding the right spot and night time.

For finding the right spot, I'm constantly concerned with getting lost (even when I'm following a trail). While backpacking I always feel like I've either gone too far or not far enough, and this tends to take away from my "peaceful" experience. While car camping, I have the same worry, but with the added detriment of either having enough gas or "can my car really make it down this crazy ass dirt road"?

My night time concerns really boil down to my caveman instincts of everything awake at night wants to eat me. You don't realize how dark "dark" is until you're alone in the woods at night. Once the sun is down I'm in my tent reading a book or editing my photos from the day, just trying to ignore every tiny sound that happens around me. The only real reprieve from my fear of the night is my annoying nightly wake up to go pee allows me to get a couple minutes of peaceful star gazing.

While being out in the wild by yourself can be a terrifying experience (especially your first time) I believe everyone, even the "non-camping" types should try it at least once in their lifetime. Having at least one night to be truly alone in the serenity of a nature is an experience that is irreplaceable by anything. You will come out of it with a better sense of what you are capable of and feel connected with yourself in ways you didn't even know you could be. So, grab a tent (and a whole bunch of other stuff, like a lot of other things, don't go into the wild with only a tent, you are not Bear Grylls) and go find yourself out in the woods.

Next week, I will be sharing my tips on how I calm my anxieties about camping.