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  1. #1
    Registered User ekeverette's Avatar
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    Default gotta get over it!!

    i'm getting into the fall of my years. what makes me mad is im a good ole" county boy who is afraid of the dark. ive never been scared of the woods in my life. Ive got plenty of time " I hope" but im just plain scared at night.... its so damn dark and the noises, I know im a wus but its the only thing holding me back. thats why I was looking a partner which I know is a bad idea. Anyway I know some folks get scared out there, but over come it. I know the only thing out there bad is people' and maybe a crazy bear.I was in law enforcement for 30 years, i should know better!!
    eveready

  2. #2
    Registered User JNI64's Avatar
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    Lol, laughing with ya not at ya!
    I respect and appreciate your honesty and your service as Leo thank you.

    I'm a big believer in getting over fear I used to fear getting into a fight or having to protect myself or my loved ones so I took up several styles of martial arts for about 12 years, fear elevated.

    Then when I was looking for a new hobby and intrest that is one of many reasons I chose hiking as a new hobby I was definitely not comfortable at night, I still get a little freaked out sometimes at night. But all my trips are solo and there's been 100's.

    Just start out by camping near other people until you get used to it.

  3. #3
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    I ain't skeered o' the dark, just the noises out there!

    I haven't done any solo camping. As a woman who's a bit old fashioned and beginning to reach the senior years, I sorta feel entitled to sleep soundly and let my husband worry about the noises. That's sexist, you say? Oh, I guess I don't care much about such things. Our relationship is our business, and how I feel about my role in life is my business.

    If I was a man, I might be a little intimidated by someone's possible expectation that I would have to be the one to bravely fight the pack of snarling wolves or chase off the rabid skunks. I understand, and honestly if we were attacked, I'd be right there by his side doing whatever it took to defend ourselves. So far, some of the loudest night noises we've heard have turned out to be beetles walking in dry leaves right by the tent. Frightening, until it wasn't.

  4. #4
    Registered User JNI64's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JNI64 View Post
    Lol, laughing with ya not at ya!
    I respect and appreciate your honesty and your service as Leo thank you.

    I'm a big believer in getting over fear I used to fear getting into a fight or having to protect myself or my loved ones so I took up several styles of martial arts for about 12 years, fear elevated.

    Then when I was looking for a new hobby and intrest that is one of many reasons I chose hiking as a new hobby I was definitely not comfortable at night, I still get a little freaked out sometimes at night. But all my trips are solo and there's been 100's.

    Just start out by camping near other people until you get used to it.
    Fear alleviated not elevated duh.

  5. #5
    Registered User Crossup's Avatar
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    Not scared of the dark but I have heard a few noises that raised the hair on the back of my neck. Describing one noise to others I was told a bobcat sounds like that. Not something I want to hear again, but with 1500 miles of sections left, I probably will.

  6. #6
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    I have a funny method to address late night noises...

    I shout out, "HELLO CAMPERS!!". I figure if it's people approaching they will reply, if it's an animal hopefully the shout will spook it away.

    Have to chuckle at myself when it's 3AM and I'm all alone shouting in the forest while still being civil. Haha

  7. #7

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    I have had several "night time noise" experiences. . . and have seemed to always be "afraid" of the things that were harmless and "not bothered too much" by the things that really might have done harm. Once had noises in dry leaves "walking" around my tent almost all night. I assumed it was an animal, but didn't get out of the tent to investigate, and wasn't sure really what to do. Next morning I found a large, lost and hungry dog, very friendly, who had been guarding my tent all night and looking for breakfast in the morning. We hiked out together the next day to find his owner who lived close to the trailhead.
    And then. . . there was the bear who was circling my tent all night one night, looking for food I'm sure, and he rattled my cooking pan (left out, but clean), but he wasn't able to get my food (good bear hang, thank goodness!). I wasn't afraid because I thought it was a smaller animal knocking around. I found out later that it was probably a bear because (I was told?) other animals won't come out and knock around camp in a pouring rain, but it doesn't stop a bear at all.
    That same trip I heard (for my first time) that sound some animal makes that sounds like a woman screaming. I was ever so glad that someone had told me about that, because it was an awful noise. . . and although I could tell it was far away, I certainly didn't like it.
    But as I said, I maybe should have been "afraid" on some of those trips when I wasn't. Innocence is bliss, I guess.
    I like the idea of calling out "Welcome campers!" ; - )

  8. #8
    ME => GA 19AT3 rickb's Avatar
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    Someone once told me that when you are in a tent at night, an animal will always sound one or two critters larger than it really is.

    For example: a mouse will sound like a rabbit, a rabbit will sound like raccoon, a raccoon will sound like a bear, and a bear will sound like a Sasquatch.

    Not sure if that is really true, but I have found that thought comforting.

    Good to also know that deer snort at night. Loudly.

    On another note, probably good to remember that voices come from the sound of running water- like you KNOW they are real kind of voices. If you can relate, probably best to camp away from streams.

    Another thing to consider (besides a special stash of whiskey in plastic airline bottles) is resolving to get up and investigate if you are spooked, rather playing possum in your bag (and who has never done that).

    To that end, a small tactical flashlight (Fenix, for example) will light up the woods like a carís headlights. If you may well see something fun like an owl or deer. or at least the stars after turning it off.

  9. #9

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    I recall as a child of 8 or 9 being scared of the dark. I was staying on my uncle's farm and before bed would make a last pit stop. Problem was, the outhouse (remember those?) was a short walk from the house and the shadows from farm equipment and trees coupled with my imagination made it quite the intimidating trek. I would read the Bible each evening and read in II Timothy 1:7 "For God hath not given me the spirit of fear..." The next evening I was half way to the outhouse before I realized I was no longer afraid.

    If mods consider this preaching then by all means delete it. The rest of you, please accept this is a true story of what worked for me. I hope it helps the OP, though I know nothing of your personal beliefs.

  10. #10
    Registered User Hikes in Rain's Avatar
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    See if you can find a copy of this old book: https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/...?ie=UTF8&psc=1 Everything you could ever want to know what happens in the woods when the sun goes down.

  11. #11

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    I am a woman, close to your age, and I generally stealth camp alone. I am not fearful of the dark, per se, but I can get nervous if I hear sounds outside near my tent.

    I get my best sleep where I can hear flowing water (or ocean waves, or just a fan in my room). The sound drowns out any overnight animal (or hiker) noises that might otherwise catch my attention during a lightsleep stage. Also, hiking full days helps - getting good and tired means I'm likely to fall asleep fast and with any luck stay that way for a long time!

  12. #12
    Hiker bigcranky's Avatar
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    I use ear plugs when solo hiking, at least for the first few days. After that I'm usually so tired I just fall right asleep. The ear plugs are also useful in hostels.
    Ken B
    'Big Cranky'
    Our Long Trail journal

  13. #13

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    I spent one winter reading bigfoot stories at night, getting pretty worked up sitting in my dimly-lit house; any little noise would just freak the hell out of me. One of the common things that would indicate their presence was that the woods would all of a sudden go dead quiet - no birds, bugs or anything, just dead silence.

    Well time marched on, and I went backpacking in a remote wilderness area late that spring by a lake. Alone. There were a lot of frogs at the lake making their frog noises which was like music to me, and as it was late and pitch dark I set out to go to bed. And guess what happened? Yep, all of the frogs stopped barking. All of them, every single one of them just stopped.

    Not only the frogs, but every beetle as well. Then I heard the sound of a crunching not more than about 20 yards from my campsite, and my paranoia of being visited by out of control monsters hell bent on my destruction came back to me in full force - except this time I wasn't in my comfortable house, no, I was out in the middle of a wilderness area, miles from the nearest person. And then the crunching of the brush got closer, and then...

    Well it only lasted a short time before the frogs started back in and I realized it was just some random critter making noise. I had a good laugh at my own expense, and after the unease passed had a good night's sleep that night.

    --

    I think it is ingrained in our brains to be wary of being exposed at night, this was why we lived in caves, slept in groups, and tended fires. With all of our modern trappings, this is still part of us, and won't be going away anytime soon.

    Even before my event described in the beginning part of this post, there was a certain feeling I would experience later in the evening, just after the sun went down, but before it got dark. The best way to describe it was that it was an awareness that there were no boundaries separating me from the outside world, that the world as far as I could see just kept going on and on, beyond my senses, and in that world were all types of things I had absolutely no awareness of, and there were no boundaries separating us besides distance. It was an uneasy feeling that made me feel vulnerable and want to stay closer to camp and not make my presence be known. Maybe other people know this feeling as well?

    Nowadays I still might get that feeling for a short time, but it is otherwise overwhelmed by the sense of belonging I get being out in the woods, which is one place where I have learned that I am truly at peace.

  14. #14

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    I used to get woken up a lot of time until I switched to ear plugs. Made all the difference. Buy a bear vault for your food and then there is not a lot to worry about.

  15. #15
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    These are great responses but when I'm alone I prefer situational awareness. Earplugs might increase anxiety for hikers that are already hyper-sensitive to sounds around them.

    I'm not a psychologist by a darn sight (wish I was so I could help myself) but seems counterintuitive to qualm your fears by closing out all sound.

    Hike so hard that you crash hard and if anything wakes you....just scream "HELLO CAMPERS!".

  16. #16

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    I can just imagine getting to a remote campsite after dark, trying to be really quiet when all of a sudden someone starts yelling HELLO CAMPERS!

  17. #17

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    What's there to worry about??? These pics won't help---

    P1000370.jpg

    P1000354.jpg
    Mother skunk comes into tent vestibule to say hello.

    TRIP 166 039-XL.jpg
    Saw this guy next to my tent on Bald River in TN.

    TRIP 166 149-XL.jpg
    Stopped on the BMT State Line Ridge to get water and didn't even see Jimmy resting nearby---until I stood up to pack away filter.

    Trip 165 323-XL.jpg
    Climbing the Nutbuster trail in NC (it's a hemlock graveyard) and nearly placed my hand on Johnny when crossing over this tree.

    Trip 211 (247)-XL.jpg
    Or worse of all---being a Vegan and watching my backpacking buddy cook up breakfast.

    Trip 208 (110)-XL.jpg
    Having a bear come by on Thanksgiving morning and giving my almost-new tent a Love Bite.

  18. #18
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    Find something that eases your mind as you fade to sleep. That could be something central to a smartphone like podcasts or media downloads while you have wifi in town.

    Some don't want to use devices while hiking...

    Regardless, I encourage people to be prepared when you tuck in-strong headlamp/flashlight close at hand, an instrument for defense like a knife or trekking pole and most importantly (for me) footwear ready to go.

    I've tried quilts simply because I don't want to fight my way out of a mummy bag. Often said that you pack your fears...

  19. #19
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    As I read over this thread, one of the themes seems to be strange noises in the night outside of tents. Geez, I hate tents, and this is one more reason to hate them.

    Not to beat a dead horse any more than I already have on many previous occasions, but, I would suggest this is one more good reason to use a tarp for shelter instead of a tent. With many tarp pitches, you can easily look out and see what is or is not making the noises that are keeping you awake. Depending on the season, time of night, and phase of the moon, you may or many not even need to turn on a light source.

    In the end, I think the false sense of security provided by those soft thin fabric walls of a tent end up increasing insecurity by isolating us from the outside.
    I'm not lost. I'm exploring.

  20. #20
    4eyedbuzzard's Avatar
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    You're not alone. Many a brave man has cowered in fear from the call of an 6" tall screech owl. It always seems to me the smallest critters make the most ruckus too. But other than ticks, mosquitos, and some flies, you're not on any critter's desired menu in the eastern woods. We humans rely tremendously on vision as our primary sense. The same noises during the day aren't scary because we can either see the source, or find no threat. If we had night vision, we likely wouldn't have these fears. Doesn't help that from early childhood on we are told stories over and over again that incorporate darkness into tales of monsters and evil either.
    I was self employed once, but it proved too stressful. My boss was a jerk and my employee was a slacker - I didn't know whether to quit or fire myself.

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