Forum Index » Philosophy & Technique » How Do You Occupy Self during Evening/Downtime when Solo?


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Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Re: How Do You Occupy Self during Evening/Downtime when Solo? on 03/04/2014 07:02:48 MST Print View

How often do you get to spend time alone? Enjoy it.

Boredom can be tough.

Still want to know if you sleep in or get going early.

Randy Nelson
(rlnunix) - F - M

Locale: Rockies
Re:How Do You Occupy Self during Evening/Downtime when Solo? on 03/04/2014 08:20:08 MST Print View

I'm not truly solo so I talk to my dog. He's a good listener and doesn't interrupt much. We avoid politics and religion, of course.

Steven Paris
(saparisor) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re:How Do You Occupy Self during Evening/Downtime when Solo? on 03/04/2014 09:00:13 MST Print View

I talk to a volleyball.

Sumi Wada
(DetroitTigerFan) - F

Locale: Ann Arbor
Re: How Do You Occupy Self during Evening/Downtime when Solo? on 03/04/2014 10:38:19 MST Print View

Read. I always have my Kindle. Nice to load it with different reading materials; books, fiction and non-fiction, magazines, newspapers. Only issue I've had is having the Kindle shut itself down at freezing temps.

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
sleep on 03/04/2014 11:31:25 MST Print View

I'm with those (I think Malto said it first) who tend to hike, eat, and then just sleep.

In shoulder season times or even winter (I don't tend to solo hike in winter), you could consider night hiking if conditions warrant. By "night hiking" here I just mean to get started in the morning while it's still dark, or keep hiking after darkness sets in. Obviously the latter works best if you already have some idea of where you can camp in areas where this is an issue.

I think this is part of overall hiking "style" and associated mindset. If camp is mostly just a place to eat and sleep, then this is only a problem in seasonal times when nights are long. But note that nights tend to be colder when they're longer, and as someone else mentioned, it's not comfortable to read and still stay really warm in the sleeping bag. An MP3 player with audio books and/or podcasts that interest you is the best solution I can think of then. Doing things "in your head" can certainly help, but note than when hiking solo I tend to have been doing that all day when hiking anyway (sometimes almost like a semi-directed dream state).

What I mostly do in the evenings going solo, however, is just eat, do whatever minimal chores there are (brush teeth, look at map/data for next day, write in blog, etc) and then sleep.

ed hyatt
(edhyatt) - MLife

Locale: The North; UK
Re:How Do You Occupy Self during Evening/Downtime when Solo? on 03/04/2014 11:34:35 MST Print View

An unabridged copy of 'Ultralight Backpackin' Tips' and a hand-shandy.

Not.

What everyone else does pretty much - lots of iPlayer downloads for those 16 hour UK winter nights.

Bogs and Bergs
(Islandized) - F

Locale: Newfoundland
Re:How Do You Occupy Self during Evening/Downtime when Solo? on 03/04/2014 11:49:48 MST Print View

The only thing in my pack with a battery is the headlamp, but that's just me.

In cold weather, the tiny tealight candle lantern is enough light in the tent, and keeps my hands from getting too stiff to do things. I have a tiny deck of cards, under 2" long, for solitaire. I tear a couple of cryptic crossword puzzles out of a book. A few small blank pages for blue-skying design ideas (creativity peaks out there). I have a laminated card of knots (Outdoor Knots Duraguide by Waterford Press) to practice the ones I rarely use. With an aluminum hook and a ball of jute twine, I can crochet small baskets, strapping, or whatever. Usually I'll just take one or two of these, but all of them together weigh less than a paperback.

I know people who whittle and carve, but given my clumsiness, I avoid playing with knives on solo trips. :)

But often I end up using none of these things. Asleep by 8 pm, up at 3, build a fire if possible, otherwise just make the coffee, pack up, and walk into the blue.

K C
(KalebC) - F

Locale: South West
"Downtime" on 03/04/2014 20:58:49 MST Print View

I just got back yesterday from some Solo overnighters in Yosemite over the weekend. I got up to about 6500 with a foot of snow on the ground, the first day I got a late start and had to hike the last couple miles in the dark. It was amazingly quiet, first goal make a fire, second shelter, third food. I never feel the need to "occupy" myself, I absolutely crave the solitude and when I'm in it, I soak it up. When it gets dark, I'm only up a few more hours, I usually get out of my bag depending on when I went to bed, the first sign of daylight does it, early morning photography and coffee motivates me.

Edited by KalebC on 03/04/2014 21:00:11 MST.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: How Do You Occupy Self during Evening/Downtime when Solo? on 03/05/2014 14:10:20 MST Print View

Perhaps it is a learned skill?

In my job I sometimes spend months on end in my home office building software applications, training manuals, and workshop materials. Days on end with no one to talk to until evening when my wife comes home. When I am not in my home office I am traveling all over the country, spending each night alone in a hotel room. I find it easy to keep occupied, and never watch TV in a hotel room.

Also, it seems that some people are task oriented (which is me) and others are more people oriented, which I suppose may mean the people oriented solo hiker may have difficulty occupying themselves at night. Work at it. Solo hiking has great rewards and is highly recommended over groups, IMO.

A few decades ago I took a few books on trips, but never found time to read them. I never take electronics for entertainment. To me these entertainment media separate me from the wilderness. Somehow I keep myself busy. I am extremely comfortable going solo -- actually I prefer it and rarely, rarely backpack with others.

I often hike from dawn to dark, although I may stop for dinner before reaching my day's destination. Sometimes I stop early to explore. I never use a shelter unless it is going to rain or snow or if extreme wind is forecasted. This way I am completely occupied with my surroundings.

From this post on my blog, I wrote

"People tell me they don’t like to hike alone; they get lonely with no one to talk to. They also tell me they get bored at night, needing reading material or music to keep them company. I don’t understand it. So here is my recipe for a wonderful evening and peaceful sleep…

Red Rock. Watch the setting sun play with your surroundings. Here the normally black mountains are bright red.

Sunset. Watch the sun set. Observe colors and shadows.

Moon. Learn of the night sky. My camp was oriented with the rising moon behind me. When nightfall arrived, I watched Venus and Jupiter play with the horizon. Once they set below the horizon, I observed a nearly full moon and at times looked at it with my binoculars. Soon I dozed off. Awakening in the early morning around 3 AM, the moon was setting and I watched the winter sky, especially the Orion constellation. Next thing I knew it was daylight and I was awakening from a glorious night’s sleep. Pretty simple stuff."

Bring warm clothes for you night camp. Forget the spreadsheet base weight. Also you can wrap your quilt or sleeping bag around you most of the time.

Remember, intelligent people don't get bored :)

Tim Zen
(asdzxc57) - F

Locale: MI
Re: How Do You Occupy Self during Evening/Downtime when Solo? on 03/05/2014 15:15:17 MST Print View

Sit and stare at stars, planets and moon when available.

Sean Nordeen
(Miner) - F - M

Locale: SoCAL
How Do You Occupy Self during Evening/Downtime when Solo? on 03/05/2014 22:11:32 MST Print View

I stop periodically and enjoy the view, swim, etc. during the daytime. However, I generally hike until its near dark before stopping. After eating dinner (assuming I didn't stop earlier and have it), I go to bed and then get up at first light. More wildlife encounters in the early morning plus excellent early morning light for photos.

I have occasionally brought a book to read or listen to audio books on mp3. But don't really do much of that anymore in camp. The last 2 years, after picking up a good camera, I have been taking photos of the night sky such as the milkyway after it gets dark in camp before going to sleep.

Edited by Miner on 03/05/2014 22:13:26 MST.

Buck Nelson
(Colter) - MLife

Locale: Alaska
I sleep on 03/06/2014 05:24:45 MST Print View

I do very few "camping trips." Most of my trips are hikes, hunts, fishing trips, river trips or bike trips. Regardless of which of these activities I'm doing usually it's dawn to dusk with breaks during the day. After I cook dinner and eat my next activity is sawing logs until the light begins to gray in the morning. I have no trouble sleeping 8-12 hours or even more!

Delmar O'Donnell
(Bolster)

Locale: Between Jacinto & Gorgonio
Interesting conversation so far. on 03/06/2014 12:46:14 MST Print View

Some good suggestions, thanks.

All I wanted to know is what more experienced folks than I, do when they have 12 hours of dark and sleep maybe 8 of them. What do people do with a dark 4 hours in a tent or under a tarp? Legitimate question, I thought. I wasn't expecting to have this thread turn into an analysis of the defects of my personality and the limits of my intellectual capacity.

"Intelligent people don't get bored." Just isn't true. Intelligent people actually crave more stimulation than dull people. Reference the research on how less intelligent people make better drivers...they're concentrating on driving. More intelligent drivers are bored and diverting themselves, and also getting into more accidents. Loads of additional research that intelligent people crave stimulation, intellectual and otherwise. Especially people that are High NFC. And, too much meditation has been shown to decrease IQ. (Notice I specified "too much"... some is good for you, hours of it are not. Hours of meditation has an effect similar to hours of TV...makes you dull.)

In my original post, I said I "run out of things to do," I never said I run out of things to think. If the rest of you are doing fun stuff in the dark, I want to know what it is. That's all.

"Also, it seems that some people are task oriented (which is me) and others are more people oriented, which I suppose may mean the people oriented solo hiker may have difficulty occupying themselves at night. Work at it." Pop-psychology introvert/extravert generalities aside, let me ask you: You have four hours of dark, you're under your quilt to stay warm. You've inventoried the stars, written in your journal. What other *tasks* are you performing? If they are interesting tasks, I may follow your lead. But I'm not going to be working out quadratic equations in my head for fun, because I don't find that fun.

"You must live a carefree stress free mistake free life Delmar because when I'm hiking or sitting/laying around camp my mind is a problem solving flashback projector." I wish I was stress/mistake free, Clayton! Truth be told, this sort of rumination is EXACTLY what I wish to avoid. And by thinking about past problems, one doesn't "purge" them, that's the old catharsis hypothesis that's been pretty thoroughly discredited by psychologists. Thinking about intractable problems is a good way for me to ruin a trip. When in the wild, I try to adhere to Hemingway's philosophy to avoid thinking about big problems. Which is why Hemingway drank a good bit, I understand.

Sounds like I need to bring a couple of oz of Everclear and an ipod, and I'll be fine. Thanks for all the suggestions.

Edited by Bolster on 03/06/2014 12:55:15 MST.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Interesting conversation so far. on 03/06/2014 12:57:46 MST Print View

Delmar,

The intelligent comment had a smiley -- don't take it seriously.

In winter, like Buck, I can sleep 12 hours but often can spend time checking out things around me. If weather is really bad, I usually just sleep after mentally solving my (and all of the world's) problems. I could mentally disassemble and assemble my motorcycle, however the need or desire never crossed my mind. Perhaps this occupation takes stuff takes practice. Keep at it and you will figure it out. Don't give up.

Delmar O'Donnell
(Bolster)

Locale: Between Jacinto & Gorgonio
Re: Re: Interesting conversation so far. on 03/06/2014 13:01:46 MST Print View

Well, I have never mentally disassembled and reassembled a motorcycle, perhaps I should try it. I've certainly READ about mentally assembling motorcycles...at length...in a book by Robert M Pirsig!

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Interesting conversation so far. on 03/06/2014 14:01:55 MST Print View

"I wasn't expecting to have this thread turn into an analysis of the defects of my personality and the limits of my intellectual capacity."

You obviously haven't been reading BPL that much then : )

Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
How Do You Occupy Self during Evening/Downtime when Solo? on 03/06/2014 15:43:16 MST Print View

Audio books for me. It's generally only for 30 mins or so before going to sleep. I like being alone, and camp chores, looking at stuff and sitting around and thinking take up any time between getting to camp and going to sleep. However, if its winter and raining you can be in your tent for along time :).

Critter Hampton
(TheCritter) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: How Do You Occupy Self during Evening/Downtime when Solo? on 03/06/2014 20:56:45 MST Print View

I review the photos and videos of the day, if I have enough battery. I also look over my maps and mark what I saw. Then I recheck my route for the next day.

Edited by TheCritter on 03/06/2014 21:28:32 MST.

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: The Great Lakes Bay Region
Re: Re: How Do You Occupy Self during Evening/Downtime when Solo? on 03/06/2014 21:06:34 MST Print View

Hey Delmar,

Its all good :-) bring some warm clothing so you can hang
around outside, the weight is worth it.

Edited by stephenm on 03/06/2014 21:30:25 MST.

joseph peterson
(sparky) - F

Locale: Southern California
How Do You Occupy Self during Evening/Downtime when Solo? on 03/07/2014 11:07:31 MST Print View

I pretty much solo exclusively. I just...chill. Don't need books, or music, or writing. I just sit there and star gaze, or just crawl into the back of my mind and its great.

When I am tired I go in my tent and go to sleep. I always wake up at sunrise.

One more thing....night hiking...get into it. Especially with a full moon it is really awesome.

Also I agree with the poster that said to throw the spreadsheet in the trash. You are confined to your tent and bored out of your mind because you don't want to carry warm clothes?! WTF!

Montbell alpine light parka...12oz of warm n cozy. I don't leave home without it.

Edit again: read the whole thread this time around haaha the third times a charm! yeah I am pretty much echoing what everyone else said. I think I am pretty stress free because the LAST thing I am thinking about is my problems back home. I really don't think of anything. And I don't drink. But I do smoke. I see a pattern...

Edited by sparky on 03/07/2014 11:17:46 MST.