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jillpine
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03/01/2021 06:25PM  
To the solos out there - when you're done with paddling and camp chores, the sun is setting, and you're catching the day's last warmth on that incredible slab of granite, what do you think about?
 
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deerfoot
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03/01/2021 07:27PM  
How great it all is.
 
03/01/2021 07:35PM  
Well, I'll be damned. That IS a good question...and I like it a lot.

So as I reflect on my solos, most evenings have been in the moment. Camp has just been set up. Have to feed the dog. Feed myself. Get things in order. Plan the morning...and then hit the hay.

It's only on layover days that I can relax a while, meditate, contemplate, and eventually solve the meaning of life.

The answer is: People Aren't Wearing Enough Hats.

 
03/01/2021 07:46PM  
I'm usually just watching and listening. I do the thinking part when it's dark and I'm trying to sleep. I do my best to never ever let my work enter my brain on a trip. But I'll think of my family and my parents etc.
 
RetiredDave
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03/01/2021 07:56PM  
I LOVE that time of the evening. I always cut firewood beforehand, so when dinner is finished and the few cleaning chores I have are done, I light a cigar, pour a cup of boxed wine, and gaze with unapologetic admiration at my stack of firewood. Then I let the sky darken and the first few stars come out. I keep a small, cozy fire going, and I gaze at the glowing coals, then I gaze up at the stars as they reveal themselves.

By the time my yawns crack my jaws, the Milky Way is blazing, and I can see its reflection on the water. When it's time (whenever I feel like it's time) I put the tiny blaze out and turn in. There is no sleep that equals sleep in the wilderness.

Thanks for asking the question!

Dave
 
JWilder
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03/01/2021 08:04PM  
Ah yes; camp is squared away and a small fire a crackling. Out pops the rum.

I begin by summarizing the days activities and experiences I have had and things I have learned. Next I check the overnight forecast into the next day. The forecast will dictate my tentative plans for the morrow. With the sun on the decline my mind floats between the in-the-moment and my life as a Christian, father, husband, son, brother, friend or whatever. I confess my weaknesses, give thanks for my strengths, and come to peace with where I am at; physically, mentally and spiritualy.

It may be at this moment I begin to miss my family, or company in general. I push this aside and tell myself that the trip is only temporary, and to enjoy the moment, which I gladly submit to. Wouldn't want to be anywhere else in the world right now.

It is now dark and I am sapped. I hit the fart sack and sleep like a baby...

JW

 
MossBack
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03/01/2021 08:16PM  
Just a simple thought of how fortunate I am to be here (there) again.
 
MacCamper
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03/01/2021 08:23PM  
Following decades of managing golf courses, my internal clock is set to get me up at about 4:30 am and in the sack at about 8:30 pm with a good book for a page or two, then count my blessings and fall asleep. My dog has the same timetable and meets me at the door to be let into the tent and greets me bright an early with the, "are you awake yet?" rustle at the end of my sleeping bag. You could say that I am a morning guy who sees way more sunrises then sunsets.
 
03/01/2021 08:55PM  
I try not to think too much, especially about the things I have to when I'm in the everyday world, but sometimes they are there. Those things fade the longer I'm out there, and I have fewer things to worry about now than years ago.

Sometimes I think about the trip I'm on - weather, where I'm going tomorrow, how well new things are working, things I've seen. Or about other trips I have done or trips I might do. Other times I'll think about the first people and how much different life was/is. How did they view things . . . ? On a clear night, I might try to put myself in their shoes - wonder about looking at the stars, the milky way, without knowing everything we now "know". Sometimes I marvel that we are here, that they survived long enough to send us all into "the great unknown" - the future.

I might think back over my life, or think about something I've been reading.

Sometimes I realize I've been sitting there quite a long time without really thinking about much at all . . . The light has faded, it's cooler, it's still, it's quiet.

The birds have vanished into the sky,
And now the last cloud drains away.
We sit together, the mountain and me,
until only the mountain remains.

Li Po

And then, sometimes, the icy wind-driven rain is slashing through camp, and it's "come on, man, I'm on vacation - cut me a break"

 
03/01/2021 11:36PM  
I had to think about what I think about and I think I think about nothing. It sounds like I'm being a smart ass but for a little while as the sky gets colored by the setting sun my brain shifts to park and I just sit there a total peaceful blank.
After a while the world comes back damnit.
 
donr
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03/02/2021 08:06AM  
How much whiskey I can drink and still have enough for the rest of the trip.

Seriously, though, I usually think about how blessed I am to be able to travel solo and enjoy the wilderness.
 
deerfoot
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03/02/2021 08:56AM  
“Softly falls the light of day as our campfire fades away, silently each scout should ask have I done my daily task.....” Some of you will know the rest.
 
paddlinjoe
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03/02/2021 09:55AM  
Really good question. I am struggling with an answer. What I have so far is "nothing" and "everything", but at a grateful/peaceful pace.

I think I need to take another trip and do some research.

 
JWilder
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03/02/2021 09:58AM  
deerfoot: "“Softly falls the light of day as our campfire fades away, silently each scout should ask have I done my daily task.....” Some of you will know the rest."

"...while taking a sip from his flask?"
 
rtallent
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03/02/2021 11:26AM  
"while scratching a mosquitoe bite on his --- " (ok, not a perfect rhyme)
 
rtallent
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03/02/2021 11:28AM  
Sorry about that, John, but I knew you were prepared...
 
MikeinMpls
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03/02/2021 12:53PM  
Oftentimes nothing. It is the only time and place where I can get my brain to slow down enough to stop the hamsters of thought from running on their squeaky wheels.

Mike
 
Minnesotian
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03/02/2021 01:23PM  

Good question.

I honestly try not to think about anything in particular. I try to embrace the loneliness and how tiny I feel in the whole grand scheme of things. I lounge in front of the grate, sculpting the fire into the most optimal burn with resources at hand, keeping my ears spread to faint sounds in the gloaming light, like a mouse squeaking past an unopen jackpine cone in the dried grass, or the breath of flight from an owl's wing as it alights on a branch above me.

"Many a night I saw the Pleiades,
rising thro' the mellow shade,
Glitter like a swarm of fireflies,
Tangled in a silver braid."
-Tennyson, Locksley Hall

These moments are completely opposite of my regular life that I find the less I think, the more I appreciate.
 
03/02/2021 08:04PM  
At that moment my dogs are in deep sleep, I’m having a bit of bourbon from my metal cup, and I’m wondering why in the world I don’t find a way to live most of my life like this.
 
straighthairedcurly
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03/02/2021 09:00PM  
I like to be in the moment just watching and listening to the nature around me...watching dragonflies flitting, watching birds, listening to the wind. Just being quiet/still in mind and body is such a gift.
 
Portage99
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03/02/2021 09:26PM  
I love that time when the day is shifting to night. Usually becomes quieter and cooler. I have a lot of thoughts and I always seem to think of my brothers that have gone before me. Someone told me a story once that floored me and meant so much to me. I think it is Lakota, but not sure. They said that souls leave people's bodies and follow the Milky Way home. I don't know why I love that so much but I find it very comforting.

Sigh...now I want to be out there.
 
03/02/2021 10:13PM  
straighthairedcurly: "I like to be in the moment just watching and listening to the nature around me...watching dragonflies flitting, watching birds, listening to the wind. Just being quiet/still in mind and body is such a gift."

I've had some of the best experiences doing this. Especially at dusk, I'll go by the shore and just sit quiet. Good things are happening at that time.
 
GraniteCliffs
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03/02/2021 10:37PM  
Great question and answers. Very timely in that I literally just got my solo reservation five minutes ago.
I find a distinction between group trips and solos. On my group trips there is a campfire with a lot of laughing, talking, inquiring about other's families, etc. Some very good and meaningful conversations that allow us all to check in a connect with one another.
My solo evening rituals are substantially different but no less rewarding. No fire. No laughing. No conversation. I tend to be a bit introspective in reviewing my life past, present and future. I, too, love to just listen as the calm of the darkness settles all around me. It is nothing short of magical on some nights. Cairn Lake in the Q two years ago was one of those nights. No wind, perfect temp. Near full moon. A great campsite with plenty of granite. The lake was glass. The beaver slapped his tail right in front of me. I heard an owl. Then heard a quick howl or yip from a coyote or wolf. All in a matter of minutes.
It can be a lonely time but is also the time when I feel most at peace at being all alone on that granite slab in the middle of nowhere. I have had a wonderful life and find myself flooded with gratitude.
I have finished plotting my next day's route with the maps spread around me. I finish the last bit of booze in my cup, snuff out the end of my nightly cigar and climb into my solo tent nicknamed The Coffin. At that point I let everything slide from my mind and fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow.
 
dschult2
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03/03/2021 06:42AM  
How incredibly lucky I am to be able to do things like this and to have a loving wife that understands how important it is to me. I think, how unfortunate it is that their are people out there that have never experienced anything like this and probably never will. I love to take it all in and just be in the moment.
 
giddyup
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03/03/2021 10:19AM  


Not sure where I saw this, maybe on this site, but it struck me enough to save it.
 
rtallent
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03/03/2021 12:10PM  
My dumb joking aside, this is a great thread. I agree with several others above: you may carry in some heavy memories and introspection (and the outside is just fine for those) but at some point are blessed with what that Li Po poem above so beautifully describes...
 
03/03/2021 01:09PM  
Portage99: " Someone told me a story once that floored me and meant so much to me. I think it is Lakota, but not sure. They said that souls leave people's bodies and follow the Milky Way home. I don't know why I love that so much but I find it very comforting.
"
Portage, do a search of that term/quote you will find some very interesting reading. i still have my place on the White Earth Reservtion and rememeber some teachings on this.

"Birth, life, death and afterlife are four stages of the journey of the human spirit. ... she intends to follow and will indicate the family's responsibilities to prepare offerings. ... The soul may also leave the body while a person is alive, and go to any ... The souls that are at peace travel back to the Sky World by way of the Milky Way."
 
03/03/2021 08:01PM  
Kind of a live in the moment guy.....and, I don't sit still well. I always gotta be doing something. So, I guess I'd be thinking about what I have to, or want to do next. No sitting and relaxing and deep thinking for me. Staying busy with fun things is when my mind is at ease.
 
JWilder
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03/03/2021 08:27PM  
giddyup: "

Not sure where I saw this, maybe on this site, but it struck me enough to save it. "


Yes! This was on another thread here in the solo forum. So very true.

I have this in my office. As I said before. Nobody (at work) understands...

JW
 
Portage99
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03/03/2021 08:44PM  
LindenTree: "Portage99: " Someone told me a story once that floored me and meant so much to me. I think it is Lakota, but not sure. They said that souls leave people's bodies and follow the Milky Way home. I don't know why I love that so much but I find it very comforting.
"
Portage, do a search of that term/quote you will find some very interesting reading. i still have my place on the White Earth Reservtion and rememeber some teachings on this.


"Birth, life, death and afterlife are four stages of the journey of the human spirit. ... she intends to follow and will indicate the family's responsibilities to prepare offerings. ... The soul may also leave the body while a person is alive, and go to any ... The souls that are at peace travel back to the Sky World by way of the Milky Way.""


That's so cool. It really is the first spiritual concept that makes sense to me and makes me feel better about death.
 
GraniteCliffs
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03/03/2021 09:41PM  
And then there is the most moving thought of all as dusk settles in:
Do you hear that buzzing? Here they come! Run for the tent!
 
HistoryDoc
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03/04/2021 06:24AM  
Great thread. It always seems to take a couple of days to get past the initial phase of the trip where I focus on the immediacies like wood, fire, food, weather, etc. After a few days, the unwinding takes place and I get more in-tuned to my surroundings and less on the next task. I always try to bring some reading related to the wilderness to stimulate the thought processes. Good reason for longer trips.
 
03/04/2021 07:04AM  
cowdoc: "Kind of a live in the moment guy.....and, I don't sit still well. I always gotta be doing something. So, I guess I'd be thinking about what I have to, or want to do next. No sitting and relaxing and deep thinking for me. Staying busy with fun things is when my mind is at ease."

My wife is the same. Her Dad was the same. Cowdoc, it amazes me that you solo at all. There's many who tried to solo and left early because of this very reason.

And truthfully I found it very uncomfortable on my early solos. It got better with time and now I feel I'm able to control my where my thoughts go. EG: If there's employee issues at work or a troubled relationship at home - as soon as the seed of a thought enters I'll shut it down immediately and go to another place and if I can't do that easily then I'll take a walk or just sit and observe what's around me and then divert my thoughts to happier stuff like my family or where I'll be and who I'll be in 5 years. DAMN that's a long sentence. The coffee made me do it. :)
 
moray
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03/04/2021 08:27AM  
Love this thread! I did my first solo last year and was nervous I would be in my head when chores were done and I was sitting in front of the fire. What I found was without anyone to talk to I focused more on my surroundings. The setting sun and sounds of nature filled the void of not having conversation. I was surprised that being alone cleared my head of things I usually worried about at home. I really enjoyed that my biggest problems were what to have for breakfast and where to fish the next day!
 
PineKnot
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03/05/2021 10:00AM  
Two things usually. First is how utterly quiet it is, especially in Sept when the wind dies and there's hardly any flying insects. Second is thinking about nothing at all except how dang tired I am....time for bed.
 
BearBurrito
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03/05/2021 10:50AM  
I try not to think about anything. Evening time for me usually starts with writing about the day in my notebook, leads into prayers of thanks for a wonderful day, and then morphs into just sitting and watching the beautiful world around me. Once in awhile thoughts of home will enter my mind as I wonder what they are doing, but for the most part I am able to shut off my brain and just enjoy my surroundings.
 
03/05/2021 12:00PM  
It's not that I try not to think about things I think it's that I tend to think about them less. I usually like to look around, absorb the details, and just breathe.
 
OgimaaBines
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03/08/2021 01:25AM  
I think about: my family, how I spend my time at home, what the sky is doing, what the fish are doing, what the sky and fish are going to do, and what I'm supposed to learn from Creation this trip.

It's a blessing to have such a short list of things to think about out there, and it's something that I found out needs to happen with as much regularity as my busy life allows!
 
03/09/2021 06:47PM  
I try to be in the moment—No thoughts. I soak in all that surrounds me with all my senses. The crackling of the fire. The loons calling across the lake. The buzz of the mosquitos. Breathing in the scent of pines. Feeling the aching of my bones. The last of the sun dipping below the horizon....
 
03/09/2021 10:09PM  
egknuti: "I try to be in the moment—No thoughts. I soak in all that surrounds me with all my senses. The crackling of the fire. The loons calling across the lake. The buzz of the mosquitos. Breathing in the scent of pines. Feeling the aching of my bones. The last of the sun dipping below the horizon...."

What you describe is something that often gets lost when with a group of 3 or more. Dusk is an amazing time in canoe country.
 
03/10/2021 07:48AM  


butthead
 
paddlinjoe
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03/10/2021 02:49PM  
butthead: "


butthead"


That was lovely. Can’t wait for episode 2. Was that a beaver swimming by right to left in the distance?
 
paddlinjoe
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03/10/2021 02:49PM  
butthead: "


butthead"


That was lovely. Can’t wait for episode 2. Was that a beaver swimming by right to left in the distance?
 
03/10/2021 09:58PM  
Yes a beaver swimming by!

butthead
 
Lailoken
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03/14/2021 10:30AM  
I love soloing. During the day, it is my favorite way to travel in the wilderness. It's quiet, I go where I want to go, I am alone with my thoughts, but I do get lonely when find a campsite for the evening. I like being alone, so it is not just lack of being with someone, it's camp seems social to me and especially camp fires. On my first 13 day/12 night solo, I made a fire the first night, mid way through, and last night. Almost all were from a feeling of obligation to habit, not desire. When I solo, nights at camp are more just simple work, time in the tent reading, less fire and less scotch for sure. I've always wanted to do a solo during the day trip, meet up every few nights with my "solo" partner.
 
03/14/2021 03:00PM  

On solo trips I try to think like my dog, I’m always learning from him.
 
03/14/2021 08:28PM  
Lailoken: "I love soloing. During the day, it is my favorite way to travel in the wilderness. It's quiet, I go where I want to go, I am alone with my thoughts, but I do get lonely when find a campsite for the evening. I like being alone, so it is not just lack of being with someone, it's camp seems social to me and especially camp fires. On my first 13 day/12 night solo, I made a fire the first night, mid way through, and last night. Almost all were from a feeling of obligation to habit, not desire. When I solo, nights at camp are more just simple work, time in the tent reading, less fire and less scotch for sure. I've always wanted to do a solo during the day trip, meet up every few nights with my "solo" partner. "

It sounds exactly like what I would write. It’s the evening or dusk when I miss having partners there. You might try a group solo. Everyone packs like it’s a solo but you all travel and camp together. So the day is yours to do as you please but there’s evening company. Or, what I’ve done in 2016 and 18 is prearrange a meet up on a certain lake and day to camp with others. Spend 1-3 nights at the site then go your own way. I’m working on a trip like that for this year. Maybe we could meet up. :)
 
mjmkjun
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07/17/2021 12:44PM  
Most often, imaginings of those who paddled these waters way before us. Native Americans. Voyageurs, and those first bold settlers. That span in history before the hoards of European settlers arrived.
Edit: Well, that is not all I do. Otherwise, a nip of Jim Beam relaxing to a 'no thinking' mode, most often. Turn-in, afterward. Hardly ever a night campfire.
 
sueb2b
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07/20/2021 06:11PM  
Read. Write. Listen to the radio for weather reports. (I have a wind-up radio.)
 
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