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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello All,

(Just to provide a brief background so that you all can better advise me). I am in my mid twenties and live on the east coast. I've grown up hiking and camping. My dad took my brother and I on multiple trips a year growing where he taught us survival skills and general camping knowledge/skills. I have always camped in groups as large as 10 people and as small as 2.

I am learning that as I have gotten older that it is hard to coordinate even with 1 other person to go to the backwoods and primitively camp. I don't want that to limit my time in the great outdoors. Thats why I am going to take up solo camping. That gets to my question in my title. I am confident in my skills that i have acquired through the years. I am not an expert by any means, but i have acquired average primitive skills to where i am confident in building a few different shelters, starting fires with strikers... basic stuff. I practice general safety and know the basic "do's" and "don'ts" of camping to avoid harmful interaction with both people and animals. I am always practicing and looking to learn new skills but thats not the question i have right now.

My question is what are some psychological tips and advice that you could give me to get me through the first few nights. Past experiences have left me a bit paranoid due to encounters with some sketchy people at night, and a bear encounter that left me and my brother with a broken tent (Food and cooking area was a good distance away from the tent). Sorry for the length, and thank you in advance for any tips or things that help you out!
 

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I don't mean to sound like a new-age hippie here, but the first few times I went solo camping I found that using focused meditation that I learned while practicing martial arts helped a lot. I would spend an hour or two before going to sleep just sitting still with my eyes closed, listening to every sound and cataloging them in my mind. It made me much more aware of what was happening around me and trained my mind to ignore non-dangerous sounds so I didn't wake up constantly during the night.

On a less ethereal note having a decent perimeter alarm made of fishing line and a loud alarm and a loaded weapon within easy reach also helps :cool:
 

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If you're worried about people:

1) stealth camp, get a tent that blends in with your surroundings
2) carry a firearm (assuming you're proficient with one)
3) avoid areas frequented by other people (off the grid camping or use private land)

Animals:

1) take necessary precautions with food. Use bear bags, etc.
2) carry a firearm and bear spray
3) make noise while hiking, talk to yourself if you need to
 

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It's ok to laugh at this but it works for me. I carry a BK2. It's crazy heavy for backpacking, it doesn't have much practical use, it gets some weird looks if people notice it BUT at night I sleep better knowing its there. I know that won't do much against a bear other than **** it off and it is no match for a gun but it makes me feel better that I have a big chunk of steel with me.
 

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No one has answered the question which is a good one. Being alone for long periods means that you have to like your own company. You need to be mentally squared away so that being alone with your thoughts is a positive experience. Mediation helps some people.

In modern society most people have plenty of distractions, multi-tasking and plenty of electronic input. Solo camping is just the opposite. It is quiet unless you bring a bunch of electronic gadgets which is a personal decision. I am a retired scientist so I like to keep busy looking at forest trees, plant communities, plant succession and looking for wild flowers. I like to look at the geology and geomorphology out there. Fishing requires some focus but still allows your mind to go free.

I love camping with my dog or dogs. They are great company and the first line of defense. They give me something else to focus on and take care of.

Do you enjoy long day hikes solo and hunting by yourself?

For some people three days alone is an eternity and they can't stand it after awhile. Most people have little experience except for short trips. It is a great benefit to be able to change your mind when ever you want, but there is not much conversation. The longer I am out there the more I talk to my dog.
Best of luck and get into it gradually.
 

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The Lieutenant
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Try getting some plant identification cards and learn types of trees, edible plants, medicinal plant and dangerous plants. Take a pack of survival skill playing cards along and review them or just play solitaire in the tent if it rains. Take along a small ShortWave radio to listen to the world. Practice different fire lays and igniting methods on the nice weather days. Find a book to study and practice self medical aid. Lots of fun, practical, & learning things to do alone.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
No one has answered the question which is a good one. Being alone for long periods means that you have to like your own company. You need to be mentally squared away so that being alone with your thoughts is a positive experience. Mediation helps some people.

In modern society most people have plenty of distractions, multi-tasking and plenty of electronic input. Solo camping is just the opposite. It is quiet unless you bring a bunch of electronic gadgets which is a personal decision. I am a retired scientist so I like to keep busy looking at forest trees, plant communities, plant succession and looking for wild flowers. I like to look at the geology and geomorphology out there. Fishing requires some focus but still allows your mind to go free.

I love camping with my dog or dogs. They are great company and the first line of defense. They give me something else to focus on and take care of.

Do you enjoy long day hikes solo and hunting by yourself?

For some people three days alone is an eternity and they can't stand it after awhile. Most people have little experience except for short trips. It is a great benefit to be able to change your mind when ever you want, but there is not much conversation. The longer I am out there the more I talk to my dog.
Best of luck and get into it gradually.
Thank you for the insight into how your solos go. I quite enjoy both hikes and hunting alone. I wouldnt consider myself a loner, but often find myself looking forward the most to things i do alone such as hiking or hunting. I like the idea of not going overboard for my first experience though. It sounds like it may be a good idea to maybe do a weekend not too deep in the woods just to get used to being alone and doing things alone. That way i can ease myself into the process. I am most anxious to see how i will handle nights. There is a bit of nervous energy there, not because i am scared, but because it is something new and I know how your brain can wander in the night. Thanks!
 

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The nights are the hardest by far, especially in the off season when the day length is much shorter. A good fire is your best friend except for a dog. It takes time for most people to get used to sleeping alone without at least a tarp over them. A lean to like a Whelen is very cozy and let's you see out. Bring a powerful headlamp, maybe two. A revolver brings peace of mind.

In over 50 years of backpacking I have never even fired a warning shot. I have encountered over 100 bears. Travelling alone is much more quiet and you will see more wildlife. Get in the habit of making some noise around streams, riparian areas and places with lots of brush and reduced visibility. That helps to avoid the predator encounters at 12 feet.

Start in drier country with few bears and good visibility and good weather. Build your skills and especially your confidence. i like you attitude, and I think you could be good at this.

PS Until 1972 I lived in MD and used to camp in VA and WVA. It is good country but hard to get away from people except in the off season.
 

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Don't over think things not every twig snap is a Bigfoot he's busy messing with other people. ( you're not that special��)

Every howl isn't a predator after YOU ( specifically)

If the weather permits don't sleep in the tent that way you can see all around you and have visual input. After you've been asleep awhile clear night and star light allows you to see.
 

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To echo other's, yes on the gun, yes on the knife...the dog and an ax, as far as between the ears, ill tell you what you what I have have done in the past, I spent a total of 14 years, over the last 30 yrs. working in commercial hunting camps as both a wrangler and a cook, was camp policy to always leave a person in camp when the hunt was over and everyone went to town to get rid of the hunters we just had and to pick up the next bunch, so you ended up spending about 3 days total by yourself in camp.

Said person was left a horse, all of the camp dogs, 4-8 depending on the year, plenty of groceries, a jug of decent whiskey, and our little battery operated am/fm radio, could sometimes get Jackson hole wyo. or cody wyo depending on the weather, this camp set at 9200 ft about 12 miles from Yellowstone as the crow flies, when it was my turn I used the quiet of being by myself to do a lot of reflecting on events in my life, plans for the future, being thankful for the chance to be where I was at that moment,

That is the more cerebral side of things, I also enjoyed making a nice supper for myself, a shower,shave, sip of good whiskey, and every night made a to do list for the following day, which entailed wood for cook tent, hunters tents, watering/feeding my horse, taking care of dogs, taking a good nap !

don't know if this helps you much, but my point is there is a multitude of things to occupy yourself with, enjoy the peace the hills provide.

quick note: we were in about 15 miles horseback from the trail head, took a touch over 5 hrs. to get to camp...hard climb in, right in the heart of griz and wolf country....another topic for a different thread lol
 

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Hello All,

(Just to provide a brief background so that you all can better advise me). I am in my mid twenties and live on the east coast. I've grown up hiking and camping. My dad took my brother and I on multiple trips a year growing where he taught us survival skills and general camping knowledge/skills. I have always camped in groups as large as 10 people and as small as 2.

I am learning that as I have gotten older that it is hard to coordinate even with 1 other person to go to the backwoods and primitively camp. I don't want that to limit my time in the great outdoors. Thats why I am going to take up solo camping. That gets to my question in my title. I am confident in my skills that i have acquired through the years. I am not an expert by any means, but i have acquired average primitive skills to where i am confident in building a few different shelters, starting fires with strikers... basic stuff. I practice general safety and know the basic "do's" and "don'ts" of camping to avoid harmful interaction with both people and animals. I am always practicing and looking to learn new skills but thats not the question i have right now.

My question is what are some psychological tips and advice that you could give me to get me through the first few nights. Past experiences have left me a bit paranoid due to encounters with some sketchy people at night, and a bear encounter that left me and my brother with a broken tent (Food and cooking area was a good distance away from the tent). Sorry for the length, and thank you in advance for any tips or things that help you out!
I'm like you, as I have become older I have less people to go camping with. I'm not married and most of my friends are. That's why I started solo camping. For my first one I only did one night just to ease into it. I always go armed and usually take some type of light weight reading material with me. I also practice skills while out alone. Depending on the time of year the nights can be long. I try to make sure I hike far enough that I'll be tired when it gets dark. A flask of whiskey doesn't hurt either.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
The nights are the hardest by far, especially in the off season when the day length is much shorter. A good fire is your best friend except for a dog. It takes time for most people to get used to sleeping alone without at least a tarp over them. A lean to like a Whelen is very cozy and let's you see out. Bring a powerful headlamp, maybe two. A revolver brings peace of mind.

In over 50 years of backpacking I have never even fired a warning shot. I have encountered over 100 bears. Travelling alone is much more quiet and you will see more wildlife. Get in the habit of making some noise around streams, riparian areas and places with lots of brush and reduced visibility. That helps to avoid the predator encounters at 12 feet.

Start in drier country with few bears and good visibility and good weather. Build your skills and especially your confidence. i like you attitude, and I think you could be good at this.

PS Until 1972 I lived in MD and used to camp in VA and WVA. It is good country but hard to get away from people except in the off season.
Thanks ppine, I appreciate your kind words. I appreciate you sharing some of the knowledge and skills you have aquired over the years doing this. I plan to take my first trip sometime in April. And your right, even in my short time of camping/hiking here, I often run into people where i think there should be none. But nonetheless, hopefully in the still of the night all will settle down!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
To echo other's, yes on the gun, yes on the knife...the dog and an ax, as far as between the ears, ill tell you what you what I have have done in the past, I spent a total of 14 years, over the last 30 yrs. working in commercial hunting camps as both a wrangler and a cook, was camp policy to always leave a person in camp when the hunt was over and everyone went to town to get rid of the hunters we just had and to pick up the next bunch, so you ended up spending about 3 days total by yourself in camp.

Said person was left a horse, all of the camp dogs, 4-8 depending on the year, plenty of groceries, a jug of decent whiskey, and our little battery operated am/fm radio, could sometimes get Jackson hole wyo. or cody wyo depending on the weather, this camp set at 9200 ft about 12 miles from Yellowstone as the crow flies, when it was my turn I used the quiet of being by myself to do a lot of reflecting on events in my life, plans for the future, being thankful for the chance to be where I was at that moment,

That is the more cerebral side of things, I also enjoyed making a nice supper for myself, a shower,shave, sip of good whiskey, and every night made a to do list for the following day, which entailed wood for cook tent, hunters tents, watering/feeding my horse, taking care of dogs, taking a good nap !

don't know if this helps you much, but my point is there is a multitude of things to occupy yourself with, enjoy the peace the hills provide.

quick note: we were in about 15 miles horseback from the trail head, took a touch over 5 hrs. to get to camp...hard climb in, right in the heart of griz and wolf country....another topic for a different thread lol
This does help, ECF, thanks a lot! You raise a very good point about productivity that I will certainly keep in mind. I think a to-do list would be a good idea to keep my mind occupied and to ensure that i am both prepared and tired when nightfall rolls around. It sounds like i should be doing plenty of wood gathering, shelter building, and skill practicing to stay busy. I'm sure you have plenty of interesting experiences from your times at camp, thanks for the advice!
 

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Hike/bakpak

Based on what time a year, has an outcome on where I go or what I do. I mainly backpack to waterfalls. (remote) falls. I like the sound the falls make. It lulls me to sleep and is the "white" noise to keep me asleep. I don't have bear issues most places. I like solo hikes even for a married with kids guy. Solo usually means a hammock. Unless dead of winter. Not only gear...don't focus on carrying gear...focus on carrying happy songs, thoughts, memories and making new memories while out and on the trail. Also have a good exit plan. A who, what, when, where.....etc. My family used to ask why my North Face mountaineering jackets, tents, gear..etc was so brightly colored (yellow/black)....makes it quicker/easier to identify the body....just kidding.
 

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I also like solo hiking and overnight camping. I like the quiet and relying on myself. I practice my map reading and compass skills. I hike all day. I find if I make camp too soon at the end of the day, the evening can be very long. I try to hike until past suppertime and then take my time setting up camp, collecting fire wood, building a fire and preparing and eating supper. I'm an Amateur Radio Operator (HAM Radio) and I always pack a portable radio and antenna. I mess around setting up my antenna and seeing who all I can reach from whatever hilltop I'm on. I carry a decent knife and a revolver, not so much for animals but for potential gremlins. I enjoy the quiet. I think about things. I plan for the future. I evaluate my life. I like the silence. It does seem odd at first because we're all so used to endless noise of some sort. I work hard, physically, when I hike, but it gives my mind a rest. Good luck and have fun! Major
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I also like solo hiking and overnight camping. I like the quiet and relying on myself. I practice my map reading and compass skills. I hike all day. I find if I make camp too soon at the end of the day, the evening can be very long. I try to hike until past suppertime and then take my time setting up camp, collecting fire wood, building a fire and preparing and eating supper. I'm an Amateur Radio Operator (HAM Radio) and I always pack a portable radio and antenna. I mess around setting up my antenna and seeing who all I can reach from whatever hilltop I'm on. I carry a decent knife and a revolver, not so much for animals but for potential gremlins. I enjoy the quiet. I think about things. I plan for the future. I evaluate my life. I like the silence. It does seem odd at first because we're all so used to endless noise of some sort. I work hard, physically, when I hike, but it gives my mind a rest. Good luck and have fun! Major
Thanks Major. That seems like a very good point about making your hikes longer. I also have found that in my experiences camping in groups that i would be restless at night and unable to sleep if we stopped early and didnt exhert ourselves much. That wouldnt be ideal for my first solo. I will be sure to stay active and cover some ground so that i can rest well when i stop. Thanks for the advice!
 

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My first night out other than at large group campsites was spent with a buddy from work, it was out first deer hunt. He had a tent but I only brought a tarp because, well, tacticool. We set up camp in the dark after failing to make it to the trail camp. After we had everything set up we noticed a bear turd right between our sleeping arrangements but knew it was too late to move. I froze that night because I didn't want to wake my buddy up getting my jacket which I left in the ruck with my food, 100 feet away (bears). It was an eery night to say the least. Having only cover overhead I was concerned I'd get a snout poking under some part of the tarp, after all you can't see directly everywhere around you. Of course nothing happened, but I felt a little better having my knife stuck in the ground right next to me and my rifle beside me.

The point is, your concerns are valid. Your imagination runs wild and there is always the possibility something will happen. But I think visualization is key. It's just like when you move out for the first time and every little sound is obviously an intruder. I spent the first 100 nights I was married falling asleep visualizing hopping out of bed, grabbing the 870, racking it, and clearing the house. At first it gets your blood pumping, but after a while you get used to it. It becomes like anything else, "Yeah, grab the gun, mhmm, safeties already off, sight picture, verify target, easy peezy."

If you come from an athletic background you'll probably relate. Practice practice practice, even if it's just in your mind, until you're confident. Then you won't think twice.
 
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