You’ve probably already heard this question before, right?
I hear a version of this question almost every day: “Aren’t you afraid?”
When I finally got to a latitude where summer is hot I discovered the pleasure of sleeping in my tent without the tent cover.
Except for cold nights, I open it, as I did when I slept in the Ancient Forest, looking at an opening in the forest canopy, surrounded by thousand-year-old red cedars.
The view from my tent in the Ancient Forest in British Columbia (Canada).
Deciding to sleep without the tent cover requires an examination of the sky, that needs to be cloudless, and this usually means a starry night! But the first times I slept without the tent cover, a wave of fear overcame me. I was able to see everything and “everyone” around me could see me, too.
Even not having anyone within kilometers, I still felt extremely vulnerable. I’d look around the dark and the silence and felt that at any moment something would appear.
Typical view from my tent during the days camped in the arctic. My principal point of reference was the Dalton Highway.
Camped up in the arctic. Without a lot of choice about the scenery, everything white and a lot of snow. During these days I was setting up the tent at 9pm when I couldn’t stand riding any longer.
Fear is that force that shows us who we really are. You can’t hide from that fear. The most primitive and real comes up in us when we feel fear.
My tent is a 3-season tent. And it has a lot of openings. Even camping in really isolated, and even deserted, locations, (I try to sleep in pretty places), I was still afraid to wake up and be surprised to find someone close to the tent.
The difference after crossing the the Arctic Circle was impressive. I started camping in areas with solid ground and the scenery changed completely. Here in the photo, Lake Grayling.
I love scary stories! In the Yukon, a lot of abandoned cabins along the road. I camped beside one of these every time I could and later researched its history. In this photo, the cabin of Alex the fisherman and the date from before construction of the highway (or before 1942). The former inhabitant was an important person in communication in that region, a kind of postman. He’s buried on the mountain behind the cabin.
The view from my tent at Kluane Lake.
This fear disappeared when I asked myself this question: What difference does a tent cover make?
The answer made me laugh at how my mind dominates my body and attitudes.
It’s only one more layer of fabric that blocks my vision and leaves me imagining things about the noises I hear outside the tent.
With the tent cover, when I hear a sound, if I want to see what it is, I have to open 2 zippers, and those make an absurd lot of noise! That puts me at risk, if whatever is on the other side were, for example, an animal.
After a day on a road without a shoulder in the Canadian Rockies I decided to take a dirt road to get away from the traffic for a while. The forest was very dense and I couldn’t find a place to camp. Finally, after a curve, I found this hunting cabin. I kept waiting until late so I could ask permission from the owner but since he didn’t show up, I camped in the door of the cabin.
Camped in a tractor shed. Fields of wheat and alfalfa all around and during the hot night the smell of the sprinkler water.
Already in Montana, after a night of heavy rain the scent of flowers fills the tent in the morning.
But without the tent cover I can calmly look (and sooner) and see if what’s out there is an animal, person or the wind in the branches.
When I was able to figure this out my fear dissipated and I discovered that the nights in the tent aren’t only for sleep. I came to love the starry sky, the hot breeze that blows more frequently the farther south I get, the smell of flowers when I sleep in more open spots, the humidity of the irrigators watering the fields when I’m in rural areas, and so it is that I have also traveled during the nights...
Perhaps one of the most unusual camping spots of my life. I set up tent on the deck of the ferry on the way to Prince Rupert. This was my view before going to sleep.
A friend had commented on these sculptures and when I saw them, I didn’t think twice, I camped among them. They consist of a herd of 39 horses made of steel by the sculptor Jim Dolan. They’re found on the top of a mountain on Highway 287 close to Three Forks. Some of the sculptures move with the wind and at night they’re a little scary. (Bleu Horses).
I love sleeping under trees and seeing their dance during the night.
In the morning, after a night of falling stars, I could hardly sleep that night because the sky was spectacular!