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  • SOLO

    This is an article I submitted to an online camping/outdoor mag to sell.
    Waiting to hear about it, but I figured you may or not like to read it since THIS board is running slow.

    LC

    SOLO

    “SOLO”… It is an interesting word isn’t it? It is much different than “ALONE”. Solo is something you choose to do whereas alone is the result of circumstance that may or may not be of the choosing of the person who is alone. Solo is when a person chooses to strike off with purpose and determination to make it on the person’s own skills, luck, education, whatever, to carry him or her through the journey that person has chosen to experience. Solo is an adventure, alone is a state of mind. As I have managed to reach the tender yet well weathered age of 69 years on this rock we call Earth I have had my fair share of adventures both not solo and solo. I must admit the most memorable times and events always seemed to happen when I was operating solo.

    A little background. I was fortunate enough to be born to some good parents to be with as I was in my formative years. Somehow, somewhere most of the time they had vacation cabins in either northern Michigan or northern Ontario, Canada. So, from the time I was able to toddle I was spending time in areas the more civilized would call wilderness, the wilds, the woods, the bush, you get the idea. My sister would lock herself in her room with her books and never come outside. I was never inside until I was ordered in by a parental figure. At first the adventures were always with the other kids who also had parents who had cabins. We would wander about on the various trails and while we would certainly get way out of sight we knew better than get out of earshot of the “COME HOME” bell or whistle. But then what can you expect from 6 and 7 year olds? (I can just see the present day parents of fear recoiling in horror at what had to be child abuse or neglect) but back then there wasn’t a pervert or child molester hiding behind every bush or tree.

    We started moving around for a while and the folks sold the cabin “up north” because we were too far away to make it practical. Then years later while on vacation in Ontario we found a wonderful old cabin that was in an estate and the folks bought it and we were once again back in the woods. It was too far for weekend trips but we spent the summers there. My sister still never left the cabin, my mother never left the yard and my father would be away working for a couple weeks at a time. What is a growing 12 year old to do when literally backed up against about 100,000 acres of Canadian wilderness? When there are no other kids to accompany you into any adventure? You go alone. You go alone into the deep and slowly expand your budding comfort factor at being solo so you do not notice you might feel alone.

    At the same time there was a local guy who came by a couple of days a week who did handyman things. He was born and raised in the Canadian bush and when he was around he sort of took me under his wing and taught me things that never appeared in any Boy Scout manual. He taught me animal behavior, and sign and fishing and trapping tricks and all the rest of those things that come so naturally to one who never knew another life but living with nature and what it has to offer. As I learned under his tutelage my own confidences grew and it wasn’t long before I realized that those bush explorations were no longer made by a boy who was alone, but were done by someone who was operating solo, and a whole new world opened before me. Now my explorations would start at dawn and I might not return until the next day or two, having told my mother of my plans to overnight in some makeshift shelter. My mother was a wonderful person and she believed in letting me develop as best I could and besides, how hard could it be to find a boy who might get a little lost in an area of 100,000 acres that had maybe five roads crossing it? (I never did, BUT, maps and compass, you MUST learn how to use them even if you carry the latest newfangled GPS)

    The things I saw and experienced while going solo were events in my young life that I may not have had if there had been others. Solo means you can make as much noise or as little noise as you choose. Solo means you set as fast a pace as you choose and go places as difficult as you dare or as easy as you feel. Going not solo means there is usually chatter, there is noise from someone not watching where they are walking as a person does when solo. Not solo means you probably are not in the same place in time you would be if solo. Not solo probably means I would have never had those five wolves float past me on soundless pads not 5 feet away as I was sitting on a rock just off a trail and taking a rest. I have no doubt they knew I was there as one looked right at me, but typical of wolf behavior in my experience, they just didn’t care. Not solo probably means I would have never been treed by the cow moose who popped out on the beaver dam I was fishing when the calf discovered I was between him and his mom. Not solo might have caused me to miss having a small young black bear experience probably his first human contact as I sat there quietly on a log eating my PB&J, as he sniffed his way towards me following those wonderful aromas.

    Solo also means you can never do stupid things, although I have had folks tell me going where I have gone and doing the things I have done solo is stupid. I just tell them they say that because they can’t be alone. Most of them don’t get it. Solo means you can never be even simply careless. Solo means things like you never step on top of that blow down log to cross it, and if you cannot step over it you go around it. Unless, you are in poisonous snake country, then you do not step blindly over either because the Copperhead that may be tucked hidden under the edge may not appreciate you stepping on him. Solo can be a real pain in the butt at times. Solo means you have to hump more gear than you should need but if something bad happens, there is no one there but you so you will have items you never plan on using. Solo means you carry at least five days of food for that planned three day hike so if you become sick or injured you can slow travel out without running out of calories when you need them most. Solo means you might have to pass on that one spectacular climb because there will be no one to see you fall if you do. Solo is not meant to be an extreme test of your endurance. Solo done poorly will fast track you to being a Darwin Award Winner. You are out for a solo adventure, not to commit unwitnessed suicide.

    Solo is what I have done most of my life when it comes to “adventures”. I have taken a BMW GS back and forth across the US and Canada taking every back way and twisted path that I could find, camping many places along the way, and doing it solo. Now I have traded my GS for a Jeep. I have hunted and fished and been places in North America so far removed from civilization there were no intrusions of man made sounds, even from overhead jet traffic. Some of it I did not solo but most of it was. Solo is a test of metal. Solo is a test of character. Solo is wearing a belt and suspenders. Solo is not for the faint of heart. Solo is an intelligence test in the truest and harshest form. Solo means you are, as some modern folks put it “Comfortable in your own skin.” The success or failure of solo depends on your own developed skill sets and what you are comfortable doing. Solo is not for everyone.

    I went through this to explain who I am and my background so when I write in the future I hopefully will not be thought of as that “delusional old coot”. There were some hard lessons learned while operating solo and even some trips not solo, and hopefully I can pass on some stories and experience that will make those so inclined a little better prepared for a solo adventure, or any travel adventure in the bush or the deep lonesome. I am almost 70 years old and still going strong. I still have all my extremities pretty much as originally issued so I must have done well enough on my trips, so, just maybe I do have something worthwhile to pass along.

    Life is filled with one time “Firsts”, your first steps, your first day of school, your first kiss, your first time driving alone, your first love, all these activities become second nature and eventually even taken for granted. Thankfully, solo adventures provide for “Firsts” every time you get out there and take that first step into the world of “What will happen next?”
    AT one time I did... unbelievable things for this country without question, because it was my country and right. NOW, my country, that country, no longer exists and I now I feel I am the Philip Nolan of my age.
    God carries a 1911.
    Just another day towards 20...

  • #2
    Re: SOLO

    Good read and a good introduction. So what comes next?
    "SI *VIS *PACEM, *PARA *BELLUM"
    http://survivalblog.com
    MOLON LABE!
    AC0XV

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: SOLO

      WELL, if they go for the story I plan on doing a series of them regarding some "adventures" and the things I went through alone and with others.

      Sort of a things to avoid and look for type of series.

      Waiting to hear if they are going to do it.
      AT one time I did... unbelievable things for this country without question, because it was my country and right. NOW, my country, that country, no longer exists and I now I feel I am the Philip Nolan of my age.
      God carries a 1911.
      Just another day towards 20...

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: SOLO

        You write very well LC. You weren't kidding either about map and compass skills even if one has GPS gear. GPS ain't worth a tinkers damn when the batteries are worn out and you have no spare batteries.
        Member of American Legion since 2014.
        Picked up New Trick 2 day 3.15.18 w/screen brightness. And yes I do have Ctrl Alt Delete.

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