Solo Camping by Nature...
I love nature. I just can’t get enough. While many women would not imagine heading into the wild without a man, I sometimes just NEED to get out and I usually can’t find anyone that can go when I can go. But also I’ve observed that we are stuck in a culture where women are working hard, and often feel unable to do stuff on our own.
We feel like we have to bring someone to the movies, dinner and pretty much any other social activity. Some of us may feel the pressure of society that seems to infer we can’t accomplish some things by ourselves or without a man around. It’s an awful social stigma.
If a friend or partner is not around, we pretty much throw in the towel and stay home. Why do we care what people think? We assume being single or even married and paddling down the river or setting up camp alone looks weird. But who cares? Nothing is more liberating!
I’ve decided long ago to ditch the stigma that I am too weak, or that I don’t have the skills that men have, and since then, enjoyed numerous memorable camping trips. I’ve been pushing my senses to break out and to do something really different kayak camping every year on the French River. For me, that’s the ultimate way to recharge my batteries and clear my mind while getting some good exercise and fresh air at the same time.
If you’re a woman planning a solo camping trip, keep reading to learn from my misadventures.
Preparedness is Key
I’ve made many mistakes over the years camping alone, but I’ve built up my skills and gained plenty experience by going on many camping trips with company and alone. I used the tips in preparedness and safety to adapt my own planning. A big part of preparing for any trip is being proactive in not getting into risky situations.
Here is my top 10 list of things I have done to make my camping trips safer…
1. I took training in paddling skills, rescue, and water exits and learned the importance of a life jacket.
Why? During my inexperienced days, I tipped over my kayak in ice cold water.
2. I always look at my feet when walking.
Why? I once almost stepped on a Massasauga Rattlesnake, and another time, I almost twisted my ankle setting up camp on rocks.
3. I try not to get out of the kayak until I reach the destination.
Why? Once, I slipped on a rock and fell into the water when looking for a pit-stop to eat. Another time since my legs were numb after 3 hours of paddling, I tipped out of my kayak trying to exit out of the kayak to explore an island on the way to my final destination.
4. I always have a warm waterproof jacket and fire making kit handy for any weather.
Why? While paddling home once, cold bad weather hit and I had to get off the water’s edge and take shelter in the forest to not get hypothermia.
5. I always check the forecast and track the weather and waves 24 hours in advance.
Why? I was once caught in HUGE 6 foot waves trying to get from an island to the mainland.
6. Always have SEVERAL navigation options and learn how to use them all very well.
Why? I got lost in fog and hard rain for more than 4 hours and could not see where I was going.
7. Never go fishing! The smell lingers on EVERYTHING. (But if you do, hang your food.)
Why? I once had a Bear come into my camp. It licked my kayak after catch and release fishing.
8. Be flexible with your plans. Always have a 1 day buffer – and stay on the campsite in case you can’t make it home on the day you had planned to go home.
Why? I was with a friend who HAD to get home and we got stuck in 80 mile / hour wind – since the weather was so bad and we had to call a rescue boat.
9. Always carry backup navigation, batteries and backup devices. They can fail!
Why? My cell phone died and the backup battery got wet and short circuited. During another trip, my GPS batteries died.
10. Learn how to make a fire…the survival way.
Why? My matches, fire starters and all fire makers got wet so I could not make a fire. Learning to make a fire the survival way, is on my bucket list for next year.
I’ve found over the years that The French River is the perfect place to test my skills. Every time I go out, I learn a little bit more about what to bring next time, what to do and what to buy. I always write a “to buy or bring next time” list and always build on that list (and bring a pen to the campsite to jot down things for next time).
I’ve navigated some bad weather, had a bear come into camp, and almost stepped on a Massasauga rattlesnake, but I survived. Those things are no big deal, and really, if you leave them alone – they will not bug you. I’ve heard bumps in the night and stayed up all night in my tent scared. But after a few trips, all those fears went away. Now I feel liberated and rested with every trip! I come home with new goals, aspirations and a new sense of self.
My motto today after a great year of kayak camping: “If we live in fear of being alone in nature, we won’t leave a single footprint in life.”
Dana - AKA The Lazy Camper