I treasure my time spent alone in the woods, especially this time of year in Nebraska. If I don’t get some alone time in the great outdoors, I end up getting a little restless, grumpy and cabin fever-like (just ask my wife Polly).
For the record, I do not advocate venturing outdoors alone because of safety purposes, plus it is more fun and rewarding to share your outdoor adventures with others, but the alone time is essential! If you, like me, enjoy periodically going outdoors by yourself, please take the necessary precautions.
Don’t leave home without an itinerary, or a plan to include departure and return times, travel route, exact destination, etc. Put your itinerary in writing and leave a copy of it with someone at home. It’s also a good idea to carry a fully-charged cell or smart phone, some extra clothing and a small survival kit.
So then, why go outdoors alone? Surveys show that the majority of Americans believe it’s important to have times when they are completely alone and away from anyone else. In fact, these same surveys also indicate that people have just as good of a time engaging in fun activities alone as they do when they’re with others.
From my perspective, this inclination for occasional solitude outdoors gives the body and, perhaps more importantly, the mind space and time to just be in the moment, experiencing it with a person’s full attention and focus. In my case, it has been sitting solo along a game trail in the quiet, snow-covered Missouri River woods in northern Douglas County, Nebraska this January hunting wild turkeys.
The smart phone is now turned off and put in my coat pocket.
I hone in on my senses and what they perceive.
I feel the snow cover comforting me in my sitting position.
I sniff the freshness and the dampness of the fog and the forest air as it envelopes me.
I am by myself, truly alone.
I notice the things around me.
I notice the glistening of a frosty eastern red cedar branch.
I notice light snow flakes on the bark of a fallen cottonwood tree.
I notice the nasal, one-syllable honks of snow geese heard overhead.
I notice northern flickers perched on a nearby dead tree.
My cares begin to fade.
My thoughts find themselves drifting off from the mundane routine of everyday life.
Then comes silence, a sound in itself.
I take a deep, cleansing breath and tell myself it is a great moment to be alive.
Spending time outside alone allows you to really get to know your inner self, finding inner peace, and restoring and refreshing your body, mind, and soul, while experiencing the beauty and solace of nature.
Try it! Chances are, you’ll go home with a clearer head, a more fulfilling appreciation of our natural world, and refreshed outlook on life.