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Help me go Solo!
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Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: Ear plugs on 05/21/2013 17:51:46 MDT Print View

Bravo Doug.

I left that wide open, didn't I?

things that chew your face off in the night on 05/21/2013 17:53:50 MDT Print View

You cannot live your life afraid of one-in-a-million things happening.

Hedge your odds by following best protocols when needed, then relax.

If its going to happen, its going to happen.

K ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Re: Re: Ear plugs on 05/21/2013 17:54:00 MDT Print View

This and Nick's brain just made my day.

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: ear plugs on 05/21/2013 19:56:17 MDT Print View

I mostly backpack solo. I like to hear the night sounds, but I understand that they may bother some people, especially at first. Without getting into whether this is a good thing, or whether someone is depriving his/herself using earplugs, I'd like to point out one very crucial thing about earplugs which may not be apparent to people considering it casually - earplugs don't exactly eliminate the unidentifiable sounds that bother people.

I mean they do, but I suspect that people imagine this something like magically editing out sounds that may cause you "distress", wake you up, etc. What you get that replaces these sounds is, to my ear, an unnatural silence - all the white noise, the wind, water noise if there is any nearby, and so on goes away. The second I put in earplugs I instantly feel MORE anxiety-ridden, exactly like being blindfolded. This is because my situational awareness goes way down. So the silence in effect replaces the sound of the bear walking by once during the night, with the silence that might yet contain a bear walking by at EVERY point in time during the whole night. LOL

So NO, I can't stand them. When I put them in I instantly want them out if they are doing their job at all well. I sleep with my window open 8 months of the year, and like to hear the animal and other sounds, most of which I can identify at this point. It is possible that this is a kind of conditioning that makes me feel very uncomfortable with silence - I have heard people from big cities can't sleep in the country since they need to hear the sirens and people talking on the street, etc. So this may be a similar effect.

On the other hand, near total silence should make anyone more anxiety ridden unless they have drugged themselves into a stupor. My advice, if you want to learn the very different lessons you get from going solo - what Edward Abbey called "a hard and brutal mysticism" - is to embrace the anxiety for a while and see if you can learn something about yourself from it. Most of it - the pointless part at least - should go away by itself after a while.

Edited by millonas on 05/21/2013 20:23:33 MDT.

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: Scared in the woods on 05/21/2013 20:09:10 MDT Print View

"1. Carry a bright light
2. Sleep next to a river so the sound of running water will occupy your mind.
3. If you have to, get a decent sized knife, stick, or bear spray to make you feel less vulnerable.
4. Stick to enclosed shelters if it makes you feel better or use a tarp if you would feel better seeing whats rummaging about. (As a person who tried hunting once or twice, that BIG, HEAVY STEPPING creature you are fixating on is probably a squirrel or a mouse. They sound huge when you are paying attention to the noises)
5. Don't watch Deliverance before you go out."

You do know that the Blair Witch laughs (or cackles) with derision at your preventative measures...right?

Edited by millonas on 05/21/2013 20:10:52 MDT.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - M

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re:Ear plugs on 05/21/2013 20:22:46 MDT Print View

The guy I normally go backpacking with has hearing issues and needs to wear hearing aids. At night he can literally turn off his hearing. Some day he is going to have a bear ravage his camp and not even wake up.

Edited by justin_baker on 05/21/2013 20:23:17 MDT.

Michael Gillenwater
(mwgillenwater) - M

Locale: Seattle area
Re: Re:Ear plugs on 05/21/2013 20:42:09 MDT Print View

Camping by a river is nice. But at least for me and many people (and the research on noise pollution confirms) even white noise can induce chronic stress. And the louder the more so.

Try this. Spend time by a noisy river for a few hours. Pay attention to your body. Then walk away farther into the forest where it is quiet (it is amazing how just a few dozen yards can drop decibel levels) and notice what your body does. I bet you will notice your whole body relaxes with removal of noise. Now of course, a subtle bubbling brook is different than a roaring river. But then if it is a little brook, you are not really getting much white noise out of it.

Of course, there are other good reasons not to camp right next to water (night time temperature, condensation issues, low impact issues, animals need to access water and your presence impedes them, etc.).

And I'm not sure you need to hear the sounds of nature WHILE you are sleeping. Yes, I want to hear them when I am awake. But I also want to get a good night's sleep. And if ear plugs help you do that, then its all good. Part of the point of sleep is that your brain is trying not to be attuned to your surroundings. Its looking for something else, if it can get it.

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: Re Feeding the Fear on 05/21/2013 20:47:12 MDT Print View

"The only thing you really need to worry about at night is camping under a window maker."

+1 All that hammering and scratchy glass-cutting noise gets on my nerves too, let alone the potential for scrap glass falling on your head in the night.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Help me go Solo! on 05/21/2013 20:58:22 MDT Print View

When I am sleeping outdoors, I don't think that I am afraid of the wildlife. To the contrary, I want to see and photograph the wildlife. Now, I will agree, some wild animals can do a lot of damage to gear, steal your food, etc. However, unless you get out to grizzly bear country, there isn't much that's going to try to harm you.

Since I want to photograph the nocturnal animals, I need an alert system to warn me and maybe wake me up from sleep. So, I use a twenty foot piece of strong black nylon thread. Along it, I have tied some big jingle bells. Yes, the Christmasy kind made out of metal. I tie this thread with bells up about one foot off the ground, either between tree trunks or bushes or rocks or off to my bear canister. Whenever anything jingles the bells, I wake up, grab the camera, and prepare to shoot.

So far, for all of the times that I have put this up, I have gotten only one night photo, but that was of a wolverine, so all the hassle was worthwhile.


Adan Lopez
(Lopez) - F

Locale: San Gabriel Valley
Fear... on 05/21/2013 22:23:10 MDT Print View

Fear is your friend. It's why you do this, to feel something. We all have our ghosts. I have certainly had mine. Try and think of those experiences as part of the whole. Lose a little sleep, it wont kill you. I still have my moments from time to time. It's all part of re-learning how to be human again. Finally, if you ever reach a point where you just cant take it anymore, remember, you reign supreme. Come out of your tent and let all the mountain know you are not prey, but predator. Take your place at the throne, oh mighty king.

K ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Re: Fear... on 05/21/2013 22:54:07 MDT Print View

Love your post Adan.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Fear... on 05/21/2013 23:02:34 MDT Print View

Nothing like yelling at wildlife in the middle of the night.
"Knock it off out there!'

Positively cathartic.

Rocco Speranza

Locale: Western NC Mtns
wow! on 05/22/2013 19:37:32 MDT Print View

Wow, Thanks for all the feedback and support!
I've been off my main computer for a week so forgot to check this, wish they had an instant email option.

I thought of another thing that would help. The cicadas are so loud you really can't hear anything during the summer. I think I'll go invest in some bear spray though.

Unfortunately I don't want to drive an hour and a half to test if I can do Solo since I can't really camp alone any where close for free legally. (At least not until I'm home from school for the summer.)

I probably won't do ear plugs since I find them unconformable and they would fall out anyway. I have a h51w so it's a pretty bright light, but I feel it's not the best idea the spot a large animal with your light. Even though it's most likely just going to get scared and run off. I'm currently using a Tarp Tent Contrail as my tent so I can somewhat see out the sides.

Thanks again!

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: wow! on 05/22/2013 19:47:57 MDT Print View

" wish they had an instant email option."

Click the Watch button at the top of the thread.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: wow! on 05/22/2013 20:37:18 MDT Print View

Rocco, let's say that the worst case animal at night is a black bear, at least for you. I don't know about those North Carolina black bears, but the ones in Yosemite are really scaredy cats. They will come snooping around late at night looking for food. If you come charging out of your tent with a bright light, you shout a lot and start throwing rocks at them. It works every time. They will be gone in an instant. However, they may return once you get quiet again. They just want the damned food, and they really don't want to have to deal with an irate human. That's why some of us use bear canisters. If the food is safely inside the bear canister, then the bear has just about zero chance of breaking it open, so you can just let it play soccer with it while you sleep inside the tent.


Stevie Patrick

Locale: Adirondacks
going solo on 06/24/2013 10:14:16 MDT Print View

I haven't read through this entire thread, and I know I'm a little late, but I currently live in Western North Carolina (Asheville) and exclusively backpack alone. I mostly enjoy backpacking alone, I set my own pace, I go where I want to go, stop when I want to, etc. Also, I like to fully immerse myself in my surroundings and nature, and sometimes others distract me from doing that.

I'm not sure were you do most of your hiking, but I'd recommend doing a small section on the AT first, or even doing a loop in the Smokies. Especially this time of year, you will most likely be sharing a campsite with someone, especially in the Smokies. And now when you purchase a backcountry permit, it even tells you how many hikers will also be staying at your designated campsite or shelter. So even though you won't know them, you still won't be alone. And chances are you may even hit it off with them.

Very rarely do I find myself completely alone in this area, but when I do I'll listen to some music or audio books on my iPhone if I bring some headphones along. And to echo another previous comment, try to set up camp and familiarize yourself with the area before it gets totally dark.

Edited by XstevieX on 06/24/2013 10:15:06 MDT.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: going solo on 06/24/2013 10:36:16 MDT Print View

" you will most likely be sharing a campsite with someone, especially in the Smokies. And now when you purchase a backcountry permit, it even tells you how many hikers will also be staying at your designated campsite or shelter"

That's not my definition of solo.

Stevie Patrick

Locale: Adirondacks
Re: Re: going solo on 06/24/2013 18:02:14 MDT Print View

"That's not my definition of solo."

Nick, refer to his original post. He didn't say that he cared to backpack alone, rather that he didn't want to rely on others to get out. Sorry for trying to give some advice that actually pertains to the area that he lives?

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: Re: going solo on 06/24/2013 18:22:24 MDT Print View

With all the zombies out there, he'll never really be solo....

Rocco Speranza

Locale: Western NC Mtns
Re: Re: Re: Re: going solo on 06/28/2013 14:27:24 MDT Print View

Yeah, you can never be too careful with those zombie bears wondering around out there. ;)