There she was, just 30 feet to my left. I could tell she was as nervous as I was. We stood there and stared at each other for what seemed like 20 minutes. Then as I attempted to slowly set down my coffee mug so I could try and capture a photo, she ran off. My husband and I had spent the last 10 years scouring the North Shore of Lake Superior and the Superior National Forest in search of the elusive moose. Then that morning, as I sat alone sipping my coffee on the superior shore, a young cow moose walked on by.
Some of the most memorable and spectacular wilderness experiences have happened while I was solo. I’ve been enjoying solo hikes for more than a decade and recently found the courage to solo camp. (https://www.hollyscherer.com/safety/) While I love experiencing nature with my spouse and good friends, the experience of going it alone is unmatched.
The first thing you’ll notice when you head into the wilderness solo is the abundant wildlife. I’m a pretty quiet person, so animals often don’t notice I’m there. I’ve kayaked with otters, loons, and beavers. I’ve done my morning yoga with eagles and fawns. I’ve had the opportunity to sit and observe animals in a way I never could have if I was always with someone else.
Next, you’ll discover your secret inner strength. Over the last two summers, I’ve spent nearly 100 nights sleeping in a tent. Most of the time I was solo. And I have to admit that there were some pretty tough times. Like the day I had to break down camp in the pouring rain and got lost on the way to the campsite, I had reserved for that night. I had no cell service, no GPS, and roads that weren’t on the map. Once I finally found my campsite, I backed my new car into a tree and had to carry in and set up after the sun had set. My tent looked like I pulled it out of a swamp. I was tired, hungry, and wanted to call it quits and go home. (https://www.hollyscherer.com/tent/) But I stuck with it and found the strength I needed approach future frustrations and mishaps with more strength and grace than I ever thought possible.
Finally, heading into the wilderness solo will give you the opportunity to go deep like you never have before. Someone recently asked me and my husband, “You’ve been married for 15 years, right? Do you think you’re so close because of all the time you’ve spent apart?” I responded that I don’t think that it’s being apart that’s important as much as being alone is.
I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that as a culture, we’re over-connected, overstimulated, and overstressed. Now more than ever, we all have the ability to distract ourselves from dealing with our baggage just by reaching into our pockets and looking at our phones. When you’re in the woods, it’s much more difficult to maintain that level of connection and stimulation. Thus, you’ll have the opportunity to disconnect (https://www.hollyscherer.com/disconnect/) and deal with all those feelings you’ve been ignoring for years. It’s not always pretty, but I promise that it’s worth it. It’s hard to quantify how much I’ve grown and healed over the last year. I feel like a new person and am ecstatic about what lies ahead.
Whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, you’ll surely find joy in heading into the woods solo. I know firsthand how scary it can be, so give yourself permission to start small. Then while you’re out there, embrace every moment of your unique and wonderful journey.
Holly is an author, empowerment coach, adventurer, and founder of hollyscherer.com. Her mission is to help people find the courage, clarity, and confidence they need to start creating a life they truly love.
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