After a full autumn of being busy at work, directing a play, and raising a one-year-old, I was ready for an escape into the woods. So what if it was Halloween? A solo camp seemed like more fun to me than a costume party at a bar… so off I went to some favorite turf in the Chippewa National Forest.
The plan was to build by own shelter with a tarp. But I didn’t (and still don’t) have a good camping tarp. I had one of those plastic woven tarps you use to cover firewood or whatever. Also, it was way too big and had grommets/tie offs in all the wrong places. Well, the bigger issue was that it didn’t have them in the right places, i.e. the center of the tarp. Only on the corners and edge.
End of October in northern Minnesota, I should have expected as much, but the fall turned to winter quickly. My shelter was frumpy, and I orientated it with the view of the lake in mind… more than the prospect of wind coming off the lake in mind. I’m still a little wet behind the ears when it comes to bushcraft, and lacking some of the right gear to do it well; but a terribly constructed and planned shelter compounded by falling damp temperatures made for a pretty restless night. In the midst of rut, I was also kept on edge by the sounds of enamored deer chasing each other through the woods. Even though I’m ‘all grown up’ and was 95% sure the noises I was hearing were just deer, my imagination was still going wild as I slept alone in the woods with noises of creatures breaking through the darkness. For comfort and security, I kept my side arm close at hand. Just in case the bears weren’t hibernating yet, the wolves smelled steak on my hands, or Leather Face was out on the hunt.
I woke in the morning with hands that were too cold and stiff to start a fire. Also in the early stages of a cold that was beginning to eclipse my sinuses, I decided to call it early. It would be one night rather than three. Nonetheless, it was a good little adventure in a fun spot to which I hope to return.