There are some physiological changes that occur every time I spend a few days on the trail alone.
These happen every time and are very noticeable when compared to city life.
Here is what I experience:
One interesting effect of being on a solo in the quiet woods is your hearing recovers from all the noise of the city.
You get really, really sensitive hearing.
I can hear cars and fellow hikers a miles away, especially if they are not Professional Stealth.
This effect is even measurable but the volume setting on my mp3 player.
The scale is 1-30 for volume on the thing. In the city, my comfortable listening level is 14-16.
In the woods, after a long solo hike, I am comfortable at 01. Every note is clear at 3-4.
I believe this to be a natural response to being out in open territory, with animals around.
Humans can’t see in 360 degrees, but we can hear that way.
It’s a self-protection feature that get ramped-up when you’re surrounded by animals.
It’s a constant 360 degree alert system that will keep you safe.
Your skin gets hypersensitive when you see a spider in its web.
Body is making adjustments to make you more attuned to small insect life
You can feel every little thing on any exposed skin.
Good news if you are looking to keep bugs off you.
All it takes for this to kick in, is seeing an insect on the trail, the bigger and more menacing the better. I’ll walk pack a spider web, and take a long focused look at the sinister occupant in the middle.
If the spider is grown and developed – good.
Makes my skin crawl and engages super sensitivity mode, so you can feel if anything is crawling on you. Things like ant and ticks get kicked off at rapid speed.
After not looking at any led screens or much artificial light, you can see brighter colors.
Greens are more vibrant, they sky is bright blue.
I believe this to be due to the wider range of light you are exposed to outdoors.
Days are bright bright bright, which is why you need a sun hat. Nights are dark dark, however your eyes are up for the challenge. Just give them some time to adjust, usually 20mins.
Once you adjust to the dark, you can usually operate in moonlight.
Fun fact: Pirates did not wear eye patches because they were missing an eye. They wore an eye patch so they could see when they went below, into the hull, without having to wait for their eyes to adjust in the dark.
This is due to the open air.
The air is different out in the woods.
This is due to the high concentration of plant, which make it more oxygen rich.
Sleeping in it is better, in fact just being outside is healthy.
I have a ton of energy in the woods. I feel like I could do more plyometric exercises.
Doesn’t feel like I can do endless calisthenics of anything like that, I just feel more springy, it that makes sense.
Vaults and jumping have lower perceived effort.
I don’t necessarily feel like I could dead-lift more, I just feel lighter.
Not sure how to explain, if you sleep outdoors a few days, you will see.
Two Walk and Think approved accessories for all adventurers:
Leatherman multi tool: Expensive, but will last a while with care. Pliers and Cutting tools are helpful. I have the leather man surge, and use it at home and in the woods.
Zippo lighter: Lighters are fun. You could always have a cheaper bic, but I like the metal zippo. Good for lighting you stove for cooking, or wetfire cubes for starting a fire
About Hammock Camping:
I am hammock camper. Maybe I’ll buy a bivy in the future, for now I am in an area with plenty of trees.
I have a hammock, a tarp, and quilts.
Pros: Off the ground, Compact, Light, Consistent Sleep, Versatile
Con’s Radiates Heat(Gets Cold), Only one person, Requires Trees
Hammock Camping Resources:
Shug Emery (link)
I learned a good bit watching good ol Shug, he covers absolutely everything about hammocks. Gear reviews, video of gear in use, all that. Very entertaining as well. Not one of those has-beens, he actually goes out and does this stuff.
The ultimate hang book (link)
Great book, and is the go to resource for hammock camping. Good pictures, showing you what’s what. Covers all the basics, should be the only book you need before heading out.
Outdoor Gear lab reviews hammocks (link)
Reviews of various gear, and compares a few hammocks. I bought the WBBB from their recommendation, and always compare it to other hammocks I’ve seen out there like ENO and Hennessy. Really most hammocks are comfy, long as they are not too small for you. Bigger is ok.
About camping with a Hammock:
Laying asymmetrically is key. All hammocks are cold, and you may need to buy a Top Quilt and a Under Quilt(TQ and UQ), or use a semi inflated pad. Or wrap yourself up like a burrito in a thick wool blanket.
Only thing I think is a MUST for a hammock is a bug net. Your straps go around the tree, and any bug can and will crawl up the tree, over the straps, and into your hammock. Scorpions can do this, so can some snakes. I heard a story of some camper waking up to a snake curled up on his chest, sleeping.
I’ve never had snakes or scorpions, but plenty of ants and spiders. Not to mention the flying critters, that can reach you anywhere. It’s like a safe haven to have a bug net. You crawl in there, zip up, and no more bugs. Worry free.
Just don’t leave the net unzipped while you’re packing/cooking. Or they will be there waiting for you, I promise.
There a lot of ways to do it, nothing to it but to do it, and take mental notes for later.
All the Best.