Feel the fear and do it anyway….. The Solo Camp

If I’m brutally honest the first time I spent alone in a forest at night time freaked the life out of me. Every sound was potentially some knife wielding maniac on his way to attack, every rustle of the wind or sound of an Owl was possibly some evil spirit lurking in the dark woods to devour my soul. My mind raced to stories I heard about satanic cults using remote spots like this and all the people that go missing each year. By 1am I wanted my Mummy…. By 2am I was talking to God and somewhere in the night I realised that I had nothing to fear but fear itself and went to sleep.

There is no doubt that Solo camping is not for the faint hearted. I was to discover, however, that by facing ones fears head on there is enormous reward: in the outdoor experience, the opportunities an ability to solo camp brings and in the self confidence that stems from it.

For anyone wishing to master their fear of the solo camp I would recommend facing the fear gradually and building up to a solo camp by yourself. Perhaps start by spending some time in a forest alone during daylight hours, then during night and gradually work your way up to the solo camp.

Recognise your fear also. Embrace it. Never be ashamed to admit to yourself that you are affraid: it is simply a biological function akin to eating and sleeping. Evolution has given us a fine drug called adrenaline that pumps into our systems when we feel threatened. This is often mistaken for panic. It will make your legs go to jelly, it will make your stomach flutter and heart beat rise: never mistake these symptoms for panic: it is simply adrenaline being released into your bloodstream. There is no shame in any of the effects of adrenaline. There is however, great tragedy when we mistake these for panic and allow fear to rule our actions.

Next up assess the data on the matter of incidents in the wilderness. How safe or dangerous is the place you are about to go? Almost any spots that people might think of going are conversely some of the safest places in Northern Ireland. Check out the local crime map for a run down of what kind of incidents have been reported in the area, you will see that the wilderness is actually the safest place to be and you are far more at risk going to the shops for a pint of milk (http://www.nicrimemaps.org/)

Think about the likely outcomes of camping in certain spots and visualise your responses. For example if you happen to meet a hoard of drunken ye-has in Donard Wood visualise how you will deal with it. A smile and a “hello” whilst walking briskly on will safely extract you from most situations.

Consider also that most people who would do you harm do not venture into the woods alone. They mostly posess the fear of the dark. Anyone in the wilderness alone at night is most probably a fellow outdoors person and the scene does usually attract quite reasonable people. Bear in mind also that where ignorance is mutual confidence is king: perhaps you are the meanest person in the woods. If you aren’t pretend you are. Repeat to yourself internally “I am the meanest person in these woods”. You’ll be surprised how it works.

I won’t bore people on the blog with self-defence advice beyond saying if you are in danger run away safely. In 99% of situations this will get you through. In the other 1% don’t be squeamish and use anything to hand to defend yourself grabbing the hardest pointiest object to hand and plunging it into the softest part of the person attacking you. Then run away safely.

Wilderness solo camping is perhaps one of the safest environments to be in and opens up a world of new opportunity if the fear of the void can be overcome. I’d encourage people to try it in a safe way.

Original post here, with thanks to Rusty Madra

This entry was posted in Outdoors Advice.

One Response to Feel the fear and do it anyway….. The Solo Camp

  1. Briteleaf says:

    “Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature nor do the children of men experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”

    Helen Keller

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