Article and photography by Sean Hootz
After a successful summer of backwoods camping with my friends, I was eager to head out on an overnight solo-trip in the familiar wilderness of Duck Mountain. It's late October, well into autumn and there has already been a snowfall or two, but I'm ready for it. My bag is packed with everything I need. The camera is set to shoot a time-lapse from the back seat, and my dog is already making a mess of my back windows.
The two hour drive to my destination has gone by unusually fast as the familiar barricade at the end of the road comes into view. I waste some time shooting the first bits of video, throw on my pack and start walking. My jacket is already wet from the sleet that had been falling since I left Kamsack. I had built up a bit of an ego from our previous adventures, but when I step past the barricade, I can't ignore the feeling of self-doubt.
Besides the cold, snow and lack of sleep, it is an uneventful night. However, it is one of the most humbling experiences I've ever had. Being twenty kilometers from the nearest person, I did not expect the loneliness to hit me as hard as it did. It's hard to appreciate the situation when you're out there in the cold. Once I'm home with my bag unpacked and my gear cleaned, I'm anxious to get back out again. The attraction to wilderness is difficult to explain. It will remind you of your place in this world, while being completely indifferent to your presence. After spending one night by yourself, don't be surprised if you carry the memory for a lifetime.