May 27, 2021 at 10:21 am #3715898
True. However, the op’s issue–and all of ours!–is with imagined animals prowling around the tent. In that case, sleeping near other campers can give a good amount of emotional
Understood. Until you think its imaginary but there really is a raccoon, bear, possum, coyote or some other animal that frequents that impacted site.May 27, 2021 at 11:27 am #3715918Bob .BPL Member
@bcbobLocale: Vancouver Island
I’ve been doing solo backpacking trips for a number of years. We have more than our share of cougar attacks here on Vancouver Island. Plus black bears. My fear is always the highest the day before, the night before, and the morning of the trip — enough that I flat out don’t want to go. I’ve learned that I just have to ignore the fear. Every time, once my boots hit the trail, I’m fine and happy to be there. And I’m not afraid during the trip or overnight.
The Temptations got it right I think……May 30, 2021 at 10:53 am #3716353Tim CBPL Member
I’m with you on the cowboy camping creepy crawlies Matthew K. I used to always do it until I woke up one morning with my eye grossly swollen shut from something that apparently bit me in the night.May 30, 2021 at 2:36 pm #3716390Tipi WalterBPL Member
I must pull solo trips as no one wants to go out for 21+ days—who has the time??—and no one wants to carry 21 days worth of food. My longest solo was 27 days w/o resupply—making for a butt heavy pack. Into NC’s Snowbird wilderness. Pic is on Day 19.Jun 1, 2021 at 4:24 pm #3716583AmberBPL Member
Nighttime noises take some getting used to. I started out going solo, and being out in the middle of nowhere, in the dark, alone, in black bear country definitely made me nervous. For the first few times, I carried bear spray. The more I went out, and the more I learned about the wildlife that was out there, the less I worried.
After the first few times, I traded in the bear spray for a small can of people pepper spray. Now, I don’t even know where it is. I agree with some of the others that other people are my biggest worry now. Carry what you need to feel safer until you no longer need it to feel safe.Jun 1, 2021 at 8:12 pm #3716643MinerBPL Member
I’ve done 99% of my backpacking solo as hardly anyone ever wants to go when I do. If I didn’t, I’d never go. I vaguely recall loneliness in the beginning and sometimes bordom due to stopping at 2-3pm that I figured out how to distract or keep it from happening by forcing myself to do longer hikes where I couldn’t just hike out the next day. Don’t even think about those issues anymore.
F0r noise, only advice is go out and get use to it. Experience helps as you start to get an idea of just how big and close the noise source is, and maybe even identify it. The more you go out, the less the noises bother you as they no longer seem foreign. Start out in places you are familar with where you’ll have a good idea what any noise are. I will note that during the day, I can usually tell roughly whatever it is making noise as I hike by, but when hiking in the dark, those same noises suddenly sound so much louder and larger due to concentrating more on my other senses because I can’t see as well. Which is how a rodent turns into a bear at night.
My only actual experience with a large animal when solo: I was cowboy camping (as I normally do) and was awakened by what clearly was a large animal nearby moving around. Was convinced it was a bear, sat up with my flashlight and shined it on it yelling and discovered a buck deer grazing nearby who ran off. Only other experiences over the years was a large frog that was traveling to the creek I was probably camping too close to that ended up under my tarp and I wondered how a wet rock got next to my quilt until I woke up enough to realize that wasn’t a rock. Oh, and field mice trying for crumbs in my pack (in case of mice that keeping coming back, it’s time to move camp in the middle of the night or you’ll never sleep. They can chew into anything including tents.) These are all things that can happen even with partners so don’t fear and just go.Jun 1, 2021 at 8:33 pm #3716646jscottBPL Member
@bookLocale: Northern California
If one is nervous about backpacking solo, an enclosed tent with netting helps a lot. I’ve never had mice or anything else chew their way into my tent, and I’ve spent hundreds of nights out. And of course, bugs are kept out as well. I need a good nights sleep. I miss the stars but cowboy camping more often than not presents too many issues for me. A headlamp attracts a million bugs and mice. On warm nights I take off the canopy and sleep with the netting, and then unzip for star gazing.
An enclosed tent provides psychological comfort too if you’re nervous about being out with animals at night.Jun 2, 2021 at 3:22 pm #3716825Tipi WalterBPL Member
In 41 years of backpacking I only had one black bear “attack”—when he/she took a love bite out of my Hilleberg tent on Thanksgiving morning 2020.Jun 3, 2021 at 7:28 pm #3717070Diane “Piper” SoiniBPL Member
@sbhikesLocale: Santa Barbara
I solo hike all the time and sleep under a Pocket tarp without any netting or bivy or else out under the stars.
The nighttime noises you hear are rarely what you think they are.
A good thing to do is to sit out at twilight. My friend has a rule she doesn’t go to bed until she sees at least one star. I usually get into my bag to stay warm well before there are any stars. But I sit or lay there and listen to the sounds at the edge times of the day.
Sometimes the frogs are super loud so I’ll go down to the creek and record them. I love the sound of frogs. Recently some “bird” was making a holy racket so I recorded that. After a while I finally saw the “bird” when he leaped out onto a branch and almost fell and I saw he was a squirrel. The loudest thing I’ve ever heard were deer. Recently I laid awake watching pillars of mosquitoes fly around. It’s so weird how they bump into each other as they spin and spin in their little groups first of just two, then three, then four, then more, then they split up again. Another group above them in a vertical column. Weird how they didn’t come bother me at all. Never had a bear ever come to my camp. I’ve done so many solo trips I cannot even remember them all. I never hang my food and only use a bear canister if required. Never had a problem with animals except rodents a few times. It’s likely most of those “stick breakers” at night are various rodents.Jun 3, 2021 at 8:57 pm #3717081Steve ThompsonBPL Member
My first solo overnight I was really nervous. The noise from passing my own gas made me jump. Probably 4am before I fell asleep. But in all a success.
2nd was for two nights. Night one, little sleep, night two right to sleep.
That was my warm up for a section hike on the CDT. Relaxing and getting past waking at every sound no longer an issue. BUT, BUT, BUT I packed for every contingency including a zombie apocalypse…started with a 75+ lb pack. Didn’t need a third of it, but had to live it to know it.
My point…expect some growing pains and expect to be nervous the first, maybe even the 2nd and 3rd times. Yes, stick to familiar places and go enough times until you are at ease. Once you can relax take a good hard look at your kit and scrutinize every item. Did you use it? Did you use it because you needed it or because you had it? And did you not use it? And if not, what circumstances would have required you to use it? (that last question took my first aid kit down to essentially a half dozen band-aids). Answering those questions will trim your kit and repeating these trip after trip you’ll get dialed in to what works for you.
The best is this can all be done within a single season. But expect a few sleepless nights and maybe a few hikes with too heavy a pack. Neither of those is failure, rather it is just part of the learning to finding your way.
And Tipi, hat’s off! The most I’ve done unsupported is 2 weeks and I don’t really want to imagine carrying a months worth of food.Jun 4, 2021 at 11:11 am #3717144HkNewmanBPL Member
@hknewmanLocale: Western US
I prefer soloing but understand about animal concerns, night noises, etc.. Realize many long distance hikers, especially on the PCT, sleep “cowboy style” – that being out in the open with only a sleeping pad and sleeping bag/quilt. Plenty of nocturnal animals about including cougar (mountain lion, puma).
Think getting into more serious bear country, one needs to take more precautions like clean camp, bear can, and sleeping under at least a big tarp vs being out. I’d look at the stats though. Any large crash would likely be a deer (maybe not so happy if you set up near its own sleep area). I’ll actually bring ear plugs in case other campers set up closer and start snoring.Jun 4, 2021 at 11:15 am #3717145David GardnerBPL Member
@gearmakerLocale: Northern California
After soloing in the Sierra Nevada many times I wanted something more adventurous and with more wildlife, so I did a solo trip from Hope to Seward across the Kenai Peninsula (about 80 miles on the trail) in the fall of 1994. Lots of brown/grizzly bears and the often more dangerous moose. Also hundreds of bald eagles, thousands of salmon and dozens of beavers, and more. Saw a number of moose at distances of 1/4 mile or more, saw many bear paw prints the size of dinner plates and huge piles of scat, but not the bears themselves.
After following a very elaborate protocol for cooking, storing food on a line between two trees at least 20 feet high, hiking at least 1/2 mile from camp and across a stream every time, setting up camp with an open fire, and hanging steel cans with small rocks from a perimeter cord 28″ off the ground, I would get into my tent for an illusion of security, lie down with a 12 ga. shotgun loaded with eight 3″ magnum slugs, and try to sleep.
Good luck with that the first couple of nights! I’d never felt so vulnerable and out of my element. This place belonged to them, not me. Every little sound filled me with dread, and it was even worse because I couldn’t see anything from inside the tent. The weather was fine, so I cowboy camped for a night and it was actually better. The last night I stumbled upon a hunter’s cabin and slept feeling blissfully secure.
Oh yeah, and I doubled my planned daily mileage and cut the number of days in half.
That was the first time I carried a gun on a backpacking trip (the darn thing weighed 8 lbs loaded), the only other being on a trek in the Mendocino National Forest where the federal rangers advised us to go in armed in case we stumbled on an illegal marijuana grow, and also warned us that if we were caught with a joint we’d go to jail.Jun 7, 2021 at 6:20 am #3717513wiiawiwbBPL Member
One way to ease into the “backpack alone” mode is to backpack with a friend and at night to each have your own camp apart from each other. Your friend can be 100+ yards away. That way, you’ll still experience being alone, with all the noises and uncertainties that go with it, but also have a friend available.
One or two times and you will be ready to do it alone.Jun 9, 2021 at 4:09 pm #3717961Scott HBPL Member
The poster above mentioned not camping in high traffic areas, my first solo trip was in a high traffic area up in the white Mountains. Most of it intersected the AT and as a consequence there were plenty of people at each designated camp sight so I was only hiking on my own in the day time. So my thought was if you were nervous about being alone go to an area where you expect there to be others camped at the sites you would use. I never really gave any thought to camping alone personally but I can understand why it would make some nervous but there are some great destination hikes where there are plenty of people that will be in camp. For me many of the places I want to go coincide where I am likely to find others whether I want to or not. The White Mountains are extremely popular for example so it is hard to really be alone there if you are on one of the main routes.
I am doing a solo this weekend, I am assuming there will be people at my camp site as I am staying in a nature preserve where you have to make reservations. I am not worried about being on my own if no one else were at the site but I am expecting there will be. I chose where I am going just because it sounds interesting.Jun 9, 2021 at 7:30 pm #3717974
I just returned from another solo overnight trip! This was my final reward after a day of about 12.5 miles full of special rewards all along the way! Yes, sometimes it gets freaky at night sleeping open like this, but every morning I wake up and think.. lol, that was GREAT! You just gotta do it!Jun 10, 2021 at 5:50 pm #3718071
So Kevin? Did you go yet???Jun 11, 2021 at 7:49 am #3718102Kevin WBPL Member
Thank you all for the advice and encouragement. My trip was extremely successful, I found that I was actually less nervous than I have been in the past camping with groups. It was a great experience and one that I will definitely be repeating in the near future. I often find it difficult to convince others to go on the more strenuous trip with more miles and now I have more confidence in my ability to go at it solo.Jun 11, 2021 at 8:57 am #3718106Scott HBPL Member
Really happy to hear it went well. I get the part about getting others to go. You have to find someone willing, who has a schedule that aligns with yours. That never happens for me. So while I don:t do a lot of backpacking, I am just reconciled to planning on going alone. I might be less apt to do so though in some areas over others. Here in the eastern U.S. I am not that worried about any animal encounter other than a rattle snake. We have black bears but I think they know of one person in history that has been killed by a black bear in Pa. In any event it is some number akin to that for which i would be more worried about getting lost or injured. So my inclination is to stick with areas that are reasonably traveled and let people know where I am and where I am going. For example on the Pemi loop in the white mountains when I was on trail I would encouter a person or group of people about once per hour in the more remote areas. there were lots of people at the designated camp sites to the point that one night i had to sleep in a shelter with 20 other people. I don:t think I would go hard core back woods on my own by preference. At the minimum I would want an in reach or something like that on me.
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