January 08, 2020
By Charles Longshaw
This reflection is from an overnight solo experience for Thetford Academy’s Environmental Studies and Outdoor Education Program. We were out in the wilderness, trying to see if we could make it through the whole night alone with limited materials. All I chose to bring with me were warm layers, hand warmers, a knife, whistle, matches, flashlight, water bottle, hat, and gloves. We weren’t allowed to bring electronics (including our phones), lighters, cotton clothing, or anything we couldn’t carry in our pockets. I was at my solo spot, a place in the Thetford State Forest that I have developed this semester in the Environmental Studies and Outdoor Education course. In my solo spot I have a shelter that I built against the roots of a blown down tree. My goal was to make it through the night without leaving my solo spot.
In the cold, pale light of the moon, with a blazing fire behind me, I was thinking that all I wanted was a warm bed and a hot cup of Joe. I had been out in the woods of the Thetford State Forest for about eight hours. It was about fifteen degrees outside and originally trying to light a fire was almost impossible. My matches were a little bit damp and the striker box was soft from the moisture. I finally lit a piece of birch bark and put the pieces of tinder around it. The flames engulfed the wood. As I saw the fire devour the wood, I thought, how can I ration this wood, and feed the never ending hunger of this tormented beast?
At 12:10 in the morning, I decided to tap out because my feet were too cold. It was not an easy decision because I wanted to know if I could make it through the night. However, I did not want to risk hypothermia. In that moment, I felt upset and disappointed because I had to quit. However, now I think it was the right decision to tap out. If I were to do this again, I would bring extra socks, a sleeping bag, and a couple more layers. Now I know what it’s like to sleep out in the cold, and I’ll be better off over preparing than under preparing next time. After having to deal with being alone, I feel stronger mentally, and I know I could make it through the night if I were to do it again.