I fell into camping by myself a few summers back. At the time, I was wrestling with my diagnosis of COPD and I really needed some outdoor contemplation. My husband was working and couldn’t stay with me. He also is not a camping fan, even though we were the lucky owners of a Boler trailer.
The trailer was built in Manitoba around 1973. It’s not as old as my old bones, for sure, but there are a number of similarities. In the Boler, things don’t close like they used to. The same is true of my hands/fingers. The trailer has to level for things to work and I can totally relate to that. When you get into bed, the trailer creaks in weird places and (you guessed it) so do I.
That summer, my long-suffering husband helped me set the trailer up and chopped enough wood to keep me happily in campfires for a week. After he went back to town, I settled in for my adventure. I was a little scared of what I might find out—wary is maybe the better word. I was surprised at how delightful my solo sojourn turned out to be.
Part of the joy was just being active, even within the confines of the campsite and campground. The Boler no longer carries water. Everything I do mindlessly and effortlessly at home, like making coffee and cooking and brushing my teeth, is a multi-step process. It’s hard to be sedentary when you are constantly shifting your chair to get some rays or shade, while avoiding campfire smoke or mosquitoes. Because of the timelessness of days spent camping, it doesn’t seem to matter.
Ever since that summer, I have looked forward to my little camping expeditions. I am not an intrepid senior going out on my own. For me, camping is a “semi-solo” experience. I need the help of my husband, family or friends for setting up, with little repayment other than gratitude. I use public campgrounds almost exclusively; we truly are so fortunate in the Yukon.
This kind of camping has made me feel more grounded and in touch with myself. I also feel a teeny bit more self-sufficient and confident that I can both relax and get things done. It’s like learning to be a “human being” instead of a “human doing.”
There have been some changes since that first summer. The Boler has found a new home within the family, and its new owner is very generous in sharing the Boler. Physically, I have found it harder to get comfortable in some camp chairs. I spend more time getting ankle-turning, knee-wrenching rocks out of the way. My klutz quotient (always high) has increased, to which several pots of coffee and plates of food can attest.
But the pleasures remain unabated. The deep quiet of the morning broken only by bird song and the subtle slurp of a feeding fish, the song of the loons, the conversation of ravens, the delighted laughter of children as they catch their first fish, shrieks from kids brave enough to venture a swim, the crackling of a friendly campfire, and the scratch of my pen on paper. Plowing through a stack of unread books that have long reproached me, reading my Kindle in dimmer light, I feel lighter and happier than I have for ages.
Semi-solo camping in the Yukon? Yahoo!