The Joy of Tenting Alone

I was four years old when I first slept in a tent. My dad dragged his old, bright-green two-man out of our basement, carefully unfolded it, and spent about 30 minutes pushing enormous plastic stakes into the ground to hold it up. I doubt I helped beyond maybe holding a stake or two, but that night my father curled up next to me and read me a library book before I fell asleep. We were less than ten feet from my deck.

A few cows grazing next to a Colorado campsite. Note the yellow tent—sadly not mine—in the back right corner.

I have since slept in various tents over the years. I struggled for hours to set up our yard-sale four-man, complete with mesh roof for stargazing, next to our house with my younger sister; I camped with my Girl Scout troop in Maine; and I discovered the joys of the ultra-light, two-man tent on my first overnight backpacking trip with my father. Last fall I tented or car camped nearly every weekend until November, dragging the ultra-light with me on all my climbing adventures. But for each of these adventures, I’d shared my tent.

As a child, I would have been much too afraid of bears and other wild creatures to sleep outside alone, and, by the time I was old enough to camp on my own without extreme fear, I was always sharing my tent with friends or my dad on outdoor trips.

This week was different. I slept in the ultra-light two-man at a campground somewhere roughly 30 minutes outside of Basalt, Colorado; and I slept in it alone.

Many things were the same; I put my crash pad down as a sleeping pad and left my smelly sneakers outside. However, I learned that it takes longer to set up one’s tent alone, though the process was still over in less than 15 minutes. I also now could spread my stuff out as much as I wanted without worrying about someone else’s foot-room, and I could sleep diagonally on my crash pad without hitting anyone. I have never slept so well while camping; it was wonderful.

If you are wondering: No I did not fear any creatures during the night, though I did dispose of several spiders and red ants that tried to share my makeshift home. At 4 a.m. on the second morning some type of animal decided to make a ruckus—I’m still not sure if it was a wild chicken, a coyote, a goose in distress, or some other creature, as I didn’t see it and have heard all of those hypotheses from those camping around me. I was too sleepy to be afraid and tucked my pillow into my sleeping bag to shut out the noise. No, I was not alone in the wilderness; about 30 people from Rock and Ice’s photo camp were sleeping in tents and vans within a quarter-mile radius, but I did enjoy having my two-man tent all to myself.

Originally published June 29, 2015, on 

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