First Solo Camping Experience at Inks Lake State Park + Camping Resources
A woman in a tent. By herself in nature. An experience I thought I wouldn’t have or be comfortable with for a while. I remember the first time I went camping; I was very uncomfortable with the idea of ever going out to sleep in nature. I thought it would be weird and unsafe, but I’m happy to say that those fears are not an issue anymore.
For my ambassadorship with Inks Lake State Park, I will often visit there each month, and sometimes I will help with nighttime events like night hikes. If you have ever been out to Burnet, TX, you might notice that it gets pretty dark at night (which is a good thing). But for someone like me that lives in Austin, an hour and a half away, it doesn’t make sense to drive back after those events conclude at 10 pm. I decided that camping made the most sense, even if it was by myself! The idea didn’t make me feel unsettled like it did before.
After a year of camping with friends and strangers (turned friends), I learned many skills, resulting in more confidence. That’s the beauty of just going out there and doing something you want to do in life instead of letting fear drive you.
My Solo Camping Experience
Once I could access my campsite, I realized how humid it was this day. If you’ve never camped in the hot humidity, this is a good thing to research. After greeting the squirrels, I set up my tent and made lunch – a nice chicken salad sandwich, veggie chips, and a Gatorade.
I wandered around my campsite right off the lake, read my book, listened to the Cardinals sing, watched boats go by, and sat in silence. It was special. The ability to be by yourself in nature is something everyone needs to experience. Don’t get me wrong, there were moments of boredom and wishing others were there with me. But boredom isn’t a bad thing. Personally, after experiencing weeks of non-stop work and consuming so much media, not having service and being bored is a gift.
I did not go on a hike during this time because it was so hot and humid, and I needed to save my energy for later in the evening. I was helping the park interpreter with a night hike.
At 6:30 pm, we traveled along the Pecan Flats Trail, learned about the history of the 1.3 billion-year-old rock formations, spider sniffed, and hunted for scorpions using our UV lights. I highly recommend this experience if you’re ever camping at Inks Lake.
Once I got back, I showered and headed back to my campsite feeling accomplished. I patted down my tent door to remove bugs and laid down on my sleeping pad. Ducks quacked aggressively, people laughed around a campfire, frogs croaked, water ran, and the wind rustled the trees. I felt safe.
Thinking About Solo Camping?
JUST DO IT.
Make sure you’re comfortable with camping basics beforehand. REI has some great virtual and in-person courses that you can check out. You can even ask a friend who has been before to go camping with you so you can practice your skills. Once you feel good about venturing out alone, book your campsite and let someone know your trip details!
If you’re worried about not having all the gear you need, do not worry! There are so many resources today that make getting the camping gear you need accessible and affordable. These are some things you can do:
Check out REI’s garage sale for used gear or use their gear rental service
Buy used gear from Facebook Marketplace
Find a gear swap event near you
Ask a camping group or friends if you can borrow their gear
If you have kiddos, join programs like Texas Outdoor Family, which provides the equipment for you and teaches the basics!
Although it had its challenges, my first solo camping experience allowed me to learn more about myself and disconnect from the world. We should all feel comfortable and safe doing anything outdoors by ourselves or with others. The feeling of fear or being scared about going camping, in general, is so valid. If it’s something you want to do in life, take baby steps towards doing it. Using the resources, I provided above; I believe you’ll be on your way to camping and eventually solo camping! Please reach out if you have any questions or leave a comment on this post.