Camping alone always excites me. The motivations are most often selfish. To get away. To be free from people. To not have to worry about planning with others, orchestrating, talking. All that jazz. Instead, camping alone becomes an easy, spontaneous escape.
A couple years ago I went camping alone in the San Jacinto mountains. The plan was to backpack for a couple of days, wander about, relax. As you may know, that didn’t quite happen. Besides the threat of a storm and a possible wildlife attack, camping alone underlines your place in the wild. A sprained ankle, a tumble down a hill, not enough food: under the care of friends or a busy campsite, you might dismiss these threats. When alone, they are ever present. The nearest escape is four hours away. How will you get there if you can’t walk? What about animals? Better yet, what about anxiety?
Some people get anxiety attacks, some people don’t. I fall somewhere in between. I get them, but they aren’t crippling. Whenever I camp alone I get struck with various degrees of anxiety. Most of this has nothing to do with the trail of course. Somehow, being out there just seems to shake things up. I question day to day activities, the time alone away from the world seems to refresh my outlook. These are good things. But they also can mess with your head a bit. A little revolution now and then is a good thing. It’s why you should try camping by yourself. If we’re going to lace our outdoor lives with spiritual mantras about living free, we should start with some actual risk. Solitude is as risky as any.