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Solo - fears and boredom

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I solo tripped once. Definitely prefer not to but looks like next season I wont have much choice.

Anyway, how have some of you overcome the boredom and loneliness? What do you do to stay occupied?

Theres already a thread on fears. For me things get real creepy and lonely once it gets dark. That cheerful, peaceful forest becomes the opposite. Let your imagination loose and pretty soon you’ll see Sasquatch stalking you from every clump of grass. Anxiety is in falling sound asleep and being completely obvious to impending danger.

I’m sure with experience you eventually find your peace. But in order to get to that point any tips, tools, etc to help?
 
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I can't say that I get lonely or bored when solo. I live alone so I'm used to it, I guess, and I fish so there's always the "what's around the next corner" or "what might this cast bring" factors in play.

I find the simplicity of not having to coordinate with others to be a relief and I simply go where I want for as long as I want. I DO tend to cover more ground when solo as I move more of the day than I think most would.

As for the forest at night, hopefully you'll get past that with experience. Remember that staring into a fire or relying heavily on flashlights destroys your night vision so the surrounding woods become much darker and that Squatch seems really nice in the commercials.

While there are certainly dangers, they tend to be relatively few unless you're extremely unlucky or careless and I love the feeling of being part of the woods and not just a visitor. If you cultivate that mindset, maybe you'll have more success staying engaged with what's around you and only feel the need to share it when you get home.

Good luck.
 
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I think much of this is in a persons makeup. Some people like being solo and some like being with other people. I've been out solo for over a month with no human interaction and never once got lonely. I don't think there is any advice on how to do it. It's just the way a person is. I'm sure with practice one can learn to adapt one way or the other. Personally I live alone and tend to do most activities alone so a solo canoe trip is not a shock to the system. A shock to the system, and something that would legit make me very nervous and anxious, would be a group trip.

As for fears I think that's a similar thing. I don't believe is ghosts. I don't believe in big foot. I believe the chance of a bear encounter is very slim and the chances of me not being able to scare it aware are even slimmer. There is nothing out there for me to be afraid of so I'm not. My imagination doesn't have a tendency to take over. If I hear something walking around in the middle of the night I wake up, listen to see if it's leaving, and when it does I go back to sleep.

Boredom is something I can relate to and my answer is to keep busy. I really enjoy paddling and being in the canoe so rather than setting up camp early I prefer to paddle long days with short breaks interspersed. I almost always cook lunch over a fire and relax for a while. I might take a mid-day walk if the terrain suits. Or I might take an afternoon nap in the sun at the end of a portage. But I'll probably be paddling until 7:00 or later. My preference is to make camp, start cooking dinner, sit around and relax while it cooks and I eat, explore around camp a bit, do some reading or writing in a journal, and go to bed.

I don't take 'rest' days unless forced to by weather. Sitting around camp all day bores me to no end. There might be days I feel tired or don't feel like paddling all day where I might have a lazy morning and not start paddling until after lunch or where I might set up camp mid-afternoon but overall I much prefer to be doing something and this keeps boredom away.

Being exhausted when it's time to go to bed is also an excellent sleep-aid.

Alan
 
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I enjoy solo tripping, I can come and go as I please, do what I want, eat what I want without coordinating with anyone else.
Usually, I'm too busy with camp chores or fishing any hunting to get bored. My biggest fear is having a medical emergency
miles away from anyone to help.
There are times, however, when I experience some of the many wonders of nature, I wish I had someone to share it with.
 
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I solo tripped once. Definitely prefer not to but looks like next season I wont have much choice.

Anyway, how have some of you overcome the boredom and loneliness? What do you do to stay occupied?

Theres already a thread on fears. For me things get real creepy and lonely once it gets dark. That cheerful, peaceful forest becomes the opposite. Let your imagination loose and pretty soon you’ll see Sasquatch stalking you from every clump of grass. Anxiety is in falling sound asleep and being completely obvious to impending danger.

I’m sure with experience you eventually find your peace. But in order to get to that point any tips, tools, etc to help?
I have learned from solo travel that I will always feel out of sorts for the first couple days. After that, I'm pretty well adjusted to being alone. If you keep a clean camp, you're biggest danger is when you are moving. Solo travel means paying attention to what you are doing.
 
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I've been dealing with fear of the dark with my grade school son. I was surprised to learn that overstimulation is part of the problem. The mind doesn't know what to do with itself when it is time to shut down. Meditating really helps him. It might help in the woods, especially a noting exercise where you listen to the night sounds. It takes some practice for it to work. I found the more I listen and understand the less scary it is.

I normally take a book and harmonica when I go by myself. I take more time for pictures. I tend to travel more and stay busier too.

Of course part of the fear is rational. I felt my safest when traveling with a dog. My experience is the dog wakes up when human companions don't.

Practically my biggest problems have always been with other people. If I'm by myself I keep a low profile and avoid places where there will be large groups of people.

And I encourage you if you're taking a trip and don't want to go solo post it. I imagine most of us don't get out as much as we'd like to.

Ryan
 
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Where I camp I really don't have a valid fear of wildlife (northern WI). When solo and darkness is falling you really get that feeling of vulnerability.

Wouldn’t feel as alone with the dog, but my little toy dog is stupid. Sure she’ll probably alert you to something but she’d also just stare blankly into the woods and growl at nothing. That may be more anxiety inducing.

Know what you mean by mindset. I’ve done some hunting and stalked out in the woods solo in the early dark hours. Was never frightened because at that moment I was the predator. Just have to channel that mindset.
 
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During the day. I take a fishing pole. and troll the shore line, to me that is interesting enough. If I occasionally catch a fish ? I decide to keep for a meal, or release. So fishing gives me purpose for being out there.

A camera also gives purpose to the Solo adventure .

Sleeping out is a different experience. It seems that I sleep lightly, and hear things.
An idea, is take a trail camera along, and set close to your tent ! Then those things you hear around your tent, might be identified !
I took one on my first solo. All I got on the camera were pics of me, roaming around camp ! Ha !
Preparing meals is an enjoyable thing also, even if you get the Bannock a little over done !

Relax ! and enjoy what's around you.

Jim
 
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I have done a lot of backpacking solo, and lots of camping trips. I go with my dog and she is a lot of company. I take all kinds of boats out solo, but I have never paddled alone overnight. There are some safety issues with moving water and going alone.

I rarely get bored since I am a forester and spend a lot of time thinking about native plant communities. Long nights in the off season are the perfect to catch up on reading. It is fun to chat with people along the way. Time to plan the next camping trip.
 
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I was recently out on my longest solo by a large margin and was pleasantly surprised that I still liked my own company by trip end. Like Alan, I tend to spend quite a bit of time on the water. On my most recent trip I found myself so busy that I really didn't have time to be bored--and I did very little journaling/reading. Night fears largely went away over time, though it is my least favorite part of soloing.

I greatly enjoyed and felt empowerd by making my own decisions and traversing wild country by myself, triple portages and all.
 
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My longest recent solo trip was 10 days. I am never lonely or bored when I go solo, which is what I do 99% of the time because my family and friends are not interested in canoeing or camping. Now I tend to "base camp" at a site for 3 nights and then move to another site as many times as necessary. This is mainly because I just can't be bothered to contact a ranger for a permit to stay longer. I spend my time doing camp chores, taking day paddles, fly fishing, taking photos, shooting video, making field recordings, journaling, reading, relaxing and taking in the scenery. This year I've gotten involved doing volunteer (aquatic) invasive species surveying, which gives me another thing to do. I look forward to my trips because it is an opportunity to do what I want, when I want to. Having done solo trips for almost 50 years, I am comfortable with it, especially since I have visited most of the destinations many times.
 
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I suggest go a couple more times for a few nights each time. That anxiety will fade. You are safer in those woods at night than in any city.

I have small kids at home so part of the desire for me to be alone is… to be alone. I love the silence. A quiet morning paddle or staying up a bit late to see more stars than I see where I live. I appreciate home more too when I get back. Nothing beats it.

Bob
 
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Your biggest friend for night time anxiety is a good set of ear plugs. Ear plugs magically repel all wild critters and night time googly boos.
I was wondering why it took so long before someone mentioned ear plugs. Also, taking solace in the fact that the road trip to the put in and back home is the most dangerous part.

As for boredom, as others have already mentioned, trip longer into the afternoon or evening and bring a book or two.
 
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Your biggest friend for night time anxiety is a good set of ear plugs. Ear plugs magically repel all wild critters and night time googly boos.
Being in wild lands solo requires some vigilance and situational awareness which is eliminated with ear plugs.
 
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I would say the meth heads that threatened to "shank me in the neck" and then slashed my tires a month ago are far more dangerous than anything I will find in the bush up here, lol.
 
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Never had any boredom.. I do like books and frankly after putting in 20 miles in my heyday in a boat there wasn't much time left after camp chores. Sounds are always magnified in the silence of night. A bird can sound like a very large animal.
 
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Some camp-friendly hobbies could help with boredom. As some mentioned, books, music (harmonica travels well), photography (I now spend time in the tent after dark reviewing my photos from the day and deleting the bad ones), fishing, whittling, learning plant or insect ID are a few ideas. (My botanist friends are never bored in the woods, though they often don't make it more than a couple hundred yards over a few hours.)

One of my favorite exercises for awareness is listing 5 things you can see, 4 you can hear, 3 you can touch, 2 you can smell, and 1 you can taste. I'm not much for meditating or the like, but if I have trouble getting out of my head and appreciating my surroundings, this one can be useful, even if it is a little hokey. You could swap seeing and hearing after dark.

One of the more frustrating solo trips I took, I didn't bring a book because I so often don't read much before going to sleep, and I like sitting around the fire. It was late October, and it turned out my chosen site didn't have a fire ring and I wasn't allowed to have a fire in that area without a ring at the time. It didn't occur to me how much time I'd have after dark to amuse myself at that time of year without a book or a fire. Even after a sunset paddle and cooking dinner by headlamp, it was a long few hours of boredom before I finally fell asleep. Lesson learned. Always bring a good book, even on long portage trips.
 
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