Solo camping, lighting fires and doubt.

Sometimes, for me, the best medicine is just being gone for a bit, just going into the woods and spending time around a fire. And so, last weekend, the first free weekend I’ve had in just about forever, I went camping. Solo camping. I set up my own tent, blew up my own air mattress, with lung power, and lit my own campfire.

IMG_6127campingcamping1I didn’t quite know what I was going to do with myself at a campsite, alone, in the middle of April, but I figured it out. Mostly I read and poked at the fire, ate cheese and bread and meat and roasted a few marshmallows and then, when it started to rain a bit, I curled up in my tent and read by candlelight before falling asleep to the sound of rain on my tent.

And then it was morning.


I slept far less terribly than I feared I would and waking up in a tent on a cold morning, snug in a sleeping bag, is really rather nice. But, there were adventures to have so, after eating some more bread and some more cheese and some more meat, I broke down the campsite and loaded up the car.

And then I hiked.

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Not far, really, just into the woods for a bit, away from things, and the rain mostly stopped and I found myself again, in the wilderness, not really wanting to come home.

But I did. I drove the two hours home, rolling things over in my mind and feeling probably a little too pleased with myself at my solo camp adventure.

I have this terrible anxiety about things like this, about going and doing things on my own, and yet I’m solidly an introvert, totally okay with spending time alone. But this was a different sort of alone, this wasn’t sitting in bed reading on a Sunday afternoon, it wasn’t watching TV alone on my couch on a Tuesday night, it was removing myself from comfortable spaces and pushing myself into the uncomfortable unknowingness of new solo experiences.

And really, that’s what these past months have been about. They’ve been about saying yes to things I would have hid from before, they’ve been about seeing what, exactly, I am capable of, about doing things I never, ever thought I would or could.

Sure, I’ve camped before. Rather a lot as a kid, and only a little as an adult. I was married to an eagle scout once, so that should garner me some camping street cred, but it’s not something I’ve ever done alone. I was terrified I wouldn’t remember how to put up the tent, even though I did the night before, in the yard, with some slight supervision from someone who has set it up before. And I was scared the fire wouldn’t start, that I would be a fire-starting failure and have to curl up in my tent, eating un-roasted marshmallows and pouting, but no. That fire lit with just one match.

I don’t know if I have a point, but someone said something to me before my last half marathon that I keep swirling around in my mind because he was so, so right. He said, “You doubt yourself too much.”

And I do. And I don’t want to anymore. Because I’m fucking 30. And I’ve had enough of that shit.

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14 thoughts on “Solo camping, lighting fires and doubt.

  1. San

    Solo adventures are the most liberating thing one can do for themselves. I am so proud of you. And yes, you have NO reason whatsoever to doubt yourself. You’re awesome.

  2. I would never have guessed you doubt yourself; you come across so strong, collected, self-assured! You should totally be proud of yourself for lighting the campfire with just one match, as that’s pretty darn impressive 🙂

  3. Terra, you don’t know how much I needed to read exactly this today. Beautifully written. Makes me desperate to wake up outdoors again. It feels like it’s been far too long since I’ve done that.

  4. Well solo camping and reading in your tent and hiking solo sounds like just the most delightful way to cope with some tough stuff. And I’m annoyed I didn’t think of it first 😉 Go, you! (Can you tell I’m also an introvert?)

  5. I love that you did this. I haven’t been camping since I was 7 years old, with my father & cousin & uncle, & I’d love to do it again. I really like the idea of doing it alone (though that’s probably not a great plan for a newbie), as it seems a little Thoreau-esque. Cleansing, even.

    And yes to ending self-doubt. I’m working on it. IT’S REALLY TOUGH.

  6. I don’t even like camping but you make it sound appealing! I love that you push yourself outside your comfort zone – you inspire me to do the same. Keep being you, you awesome human 🙂

  7. So awesome! With each new adventure on your own, you’ll definitely see that the only thing holding you back is self-doubt, and you’re tearing that shit apart like a honey badger. 🙂 Go Terra!

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