Remember how I was going to go camping all by myself for the first time ever and how I totally thought I was going to have my face eaten off by wolverines?
Well, I am happy to report that I still have 100% of my face. Yay!
Not only did I survive the weekend with my face still attached, I have to say, I actually, really enjoyed myself.
In fact, the night I got back from my trip, I booked two more solo camping trips for July and August. Because moderation is not exactly a thing that I do.
When I first announced on Facebook that I was going to go camping alone, a friend of mine responded with: “Why are you going by yourself!!!!”
I’m not exactly sure what made her replace what should have been a question mark with all those exclamation marks. Was it surprise? Concern? Pity? Finger spasm? A combination of all four?
Sure, camping solo may not sound like all that much fun to a lot of people.
But I honestly think one of the reasons why I enjoyed myself so much while on my trip was because, well, I was by myself.
And because I made sure to pack plenty of carton-wine.
But mostly because I was by myself.
And before you all think I’m some weird, lonely, carton-wine-drinking, forest-dwelling hobo, I came up with a whole list of reasons why you should go solo camping, too.
#1. You Will Have To Do All The Stuff All By Yourself. (Wait. I promise you this is a good thing.)
I’m lazy. I really am. Especially when it comes to doing hard stuff. If I can somehow coerce someone else into doing the hard stuff for me, I will totally do that.
Seeing as both setting up a tent and making a fire are considered Hard Stuff in my book, my plan was just to arrive at my campsite, flail around helplessly for a bit, and wait for some friendly, outdoorsy Michigander to offer to help me.
This did not happen.
Despite being surrounded by dozens of friendly, outdoorsy Michiganders, not a single one of them swooped in to save me from myself and the nylon flaps of doom that was my tent.
At first I was kind of surprised by this.
And then I realized something kind of shocking: these people actually think I know what I’m doing.
And, even more shocking, I realized I didn’t want anyone to help me.
I wanted to put my tent up all by myself. Even if that meant that I had to read the directions. You guys, have you ever tried to read tent directions? They’re full of words that are not even real words like “Qwik Up Hub.”
I wanted to make my own fire. Even if that meant sacrificing pages from my Oprah magazine because I forgot to bring a newspaper with me.
There was something really empowering about being able to do all these things by myself — especially since I’d never really done any of these things with another person.
It made me feel like I could do anything.
Except, maybe, figure out what a Qwik Up Hub is.
#2. No One Will Have To Know How Dirty/Smelly/Sweaty/Gross You Are.
I arrived at my campsite shortly after finishing my epically unplanned, four-hour hike of Sleeping Bear Dunes.
I’m pretty sure I smelled something like a sleeping bear myself at that point. Come to think of it, that might be another reason why no one volunteered to help me set up camp.
I then spent a few hours wrestling with my tent, lugging firewood, making my fire and cooking dinner.
When I went to the bathroom that night, I looked in the mirror for the first time all day and discovered there was a splotchy sunburn on my neck and ears, there was dirt, soot and sand all over my clothes, and there was a huge smear of marshmallow on my right cheek.
If I had been camping with a boyfriend or significant other or someone with eyeballs and a nose, I probably would have been mortified by how completely disgusting I was.
But since I was all by myself, I totally didn’t care.
It’s possible I even attempted to lick the marshmallow off my cheek.
No shame, you guys. No shame.
#3. No Matter How Many People Your Tent Claims It Can Hold, Let’s Face It, It’s Really Only Big Enough for One Person.
The tent I brought with me claimed to be a “three-person tent.”
I’m not entirely sure what the tent manufacturers meant by “person.” Maybe they consider hamsters to be people? Or possibly they meant “one person and two imaginary persons as long as those imaginary persons are of a dainty nature.”
All I know is that they could not have possibly meant three full-sized, human persons. Because between me and all my stuff, I took up pretty much every inch of that tent.
I can’t even imagine what would have happened if I had to share that tent with two other people.
Actually I can imagine it.
And it wouldn’t have been pretty.
#4. You Will Have Time to Focus on Yourself.
A great thing about being all by yourself in the woods without any Internet or anyone else to talk to is that you have time to really focus on yourself.
You can think about who you’ve become. And who you want to be.
You can think about your life’s goals.
Or you can think about how to make the best s’mores ever.
Guess how I spent my time?
#5. You Have No One To Go With. (Wait. I promise you this is a good thing.)
When my friend asked me on Facebook why I was going camping alone, my response was simple: because I wanted to go camping and I didn’t have anyone to go with.
This may sound kind of sad and lonely.
But I don’t feel sad and lonely about it at all.
In fact, there is something really empowering about just being able to go out and do the things I want to do — and not letting the fact that I don’t have anyone to do them with stand in my way.
There’s also something really empowering about never, ever having to share my marshmallows.