Going Solo

Some of you may recall a previous post I have made, called “Backpacking Excursion“. If you aren’t, then what you need to know is that my 8th Grade ODE trip was backpacking from Aspen, Colorado to an adjacent town called Marble.

We spent three days hiking thirty something miles, and the fourth day was spent sitting alone in the woods with nothing but a sleeping bag, water bottle, and tarp. Along with a journal we had been given at the beginning of the trip.

We had been preparing for all of a week for our 24 hour solo. That morning we woke up, and gathered around the center of the camp. I’d like to say it was a campfire, but it was much too warm for that. We made ourselves breakfast, which wasn’t more than a small bowl of oatmeal that had come in a pack.

We began talking about what we were about to do, and eventually our patrol leader started leading us to our individual camps. Some were farther away from the main camp, nowhere near anyone else. Others, like me, were placed just out of sight of our numerous tents, and with others just across a mini ravine.

The ravine

I would much rather have been the girl way out in the middle of nowhere.

The solo started out fine. I wasn’t particularly worried, as everyone I had talked to who completed the program described it as a life-changing experience.

So as soon as my patrol leader left, I found two trees from which i could tie my rope to set up my shelter. It took me a little longer than i expected, seeing as I had some trouble with keeping the rope from slipping down the tree once the tarp had been draped over it. Nevertheless, I prevailed over the aggravating shelter material, and pretty soon I had my hand-made tent.

A solo shelter simialr to the one I made

I sat outside on a log I found comfortably situated between two trees, and stared across the ravine. Which was when I began to get annoyed with my next door neighbor. Not only was he throwing his knife at trees, which made what must have been to him a satisfactory sound but to me was just plain annoying, but he was also whistling especially loud.

Which is exactly what I had the pleasure of waking up to early the next morning. Which meant I had hours to kill before I could return to camp. I finished my journal quickly, and with nothing to do I sat on a different log than I had the night before, and sunbathed with a fleece jacket and pants on. I didn’t get any tanner.

Pretty soon I was so bored that I began watching the sun to figure out what time it was, which is how I found out that they are telling the truth when they say staring at the sun will hurt your eyes.

And then all too slowly my patrol leader was coming around and telling us we could go back to camp. I quickly packed up my gear, and made my way up the hill. I will admit to having to stop halfway up to keep the ground under my feet from tilting away from me in nauseating rolls. That’s what 24 hours without food will do to you.

I got back to the camp and sat down alongside everyone else, and once we had all been accounted for we were once again allowed to speak. Instead of jumping into conversation like we had expected, we remained quiet for a few more minutes thinking about what we had just accomplished.

We had gone 24 hours without food, companionship, or talking. We had made our own shelter, and survived the night. We’d gone solo. And man were we proud of ourselves.

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