In Australia I start my first ever solo camping trip with great optimism, slight naivety and a romanticised image of camping on my own. On my first night I flee to the nearest hostel after discovering that camping alone in the dark without anybody around is quite scary. However, I have no one to travel with and don’t want that stopping me from exploring, so I have to overcome this fear. A few failed solo camping attempts later I find myself at the campsite in the Ben Lomond national park in Tasmania, ready to try again. It’s quiet and there is no one else. Hesitation dawns upon me, I’m once again not sure if I’m comfortable camping all by myself in the dark forest at night. Luckily I spot two other campers. I walk up to them, and ask if they are spending the night as well here. They are. I also poke my head in their van just enough for a quick scan of any kidnapped backpackers. There aren’t. Content about these two observations I set up my tent. Sleep comes rather easy now I feel more comfortable with people near, whom I assessed were probably not potential murderers.
Around 2 am I wake up from noises outside, soft footsteps close by on the gravel. I listen carefully, and then suddenly, a loud bang; something hits the side of my tent. I jump up in bed, my brain already occupied with laying out several doom scenario’s, most of which involve me not getting out very positively. I carefully zip the tent door open to find myself staring right into the face of a possum, lit by the bright moonlight. He and his gang were scavenging around my tent. I smile, lay down with relief and go back to sleep. The next morning i’m eager to get going. A zig-zag mountain road called Jacob’s Ladder is waiting for me.
Leaving the forest behind, the impressive dolerite columns hug the hair pin turns that climb up a steep mountainside to a viewing platform at the top. The view stretches from the mountains to the valleys and the eucalyptus forests below. The sun had just risen and is shining it first ray of bright orange light on the top edge of the mountain ridge. The fog in the valley below is slowly vanishing. It is chilly and the cold wind blows in my face. I feel utterly delighted, this was exactly the moment I was chasing after. My mind is clear and full at the same time. Calm, but energetic. I realise I’m alone, but not lonely. I am cold, but warm. Finally, loneliness had changed into a feeling of being at ease with myself on my own. These are moments that I don’t need anyone and these are moments worth chasing after.