24 hours alone in nature

alone in nature

Twenty-four hours in nature, alone. No telephone, no book,
 no food. Journalist Eva Loesberg was curious what impact it would have on her and embraced the adventure.

It’s July 5. I set down my heavy backpack between two trees by a small lake—or, more accurately, a large pond—somewhere in the middle of a forest. This is my spot for the coming 24 hours. Henrik, the supervisor of this nature quest, saves the GPS coordinates so that the ranger can find me in case of an emergency (a thunderstorm or a flash flood) and then he leaves. I am on my own now.

I look at the green water in the pond. For weeks, I have been fantasizing about this moment. How would I feel, with all those empty hours ahead 
of me? Sitting still, something I—to my husband’s annoyance—never do. There is always a plan to be made, some weeding to do, someone to email, a son who wants to play a game or a daughter who wants to learn to ride a bike. When I try to relax anyway, I read a book or I ‘enjoy a run’. Maybe that’s what appealed to me about the nature quest: how radically different it will be for me, because I’m unable to find peace on my own surrounded by all those distractions. Here, there’s just me and nature. No food, no Netflix, no WhatsApp, no magazines. I love the idea. And I’m petrified. Will I be able to stand the silence, the boredom? And how will the wild animals react?

Rijk Smitskamp, the founder of this nature quest, was far from reassuring during the introduction meeting. “The whole point is to be confronted with your fears to overcome them,” he said. “An outdoors nature quest is meant to push you to the edges of your comfort zone. It might be cold, it might rain, there may be animals, you might not sleep. But what you then take back with you into your daily life is the sense that you have overcome all of this. You have yourself and that’s all you need. You can feel confident that you’ll make the right choices.”

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The concept of this nature quest is based on the ancient rites of passage of native people who sent their sons into the jungle for a few days, to return as men after a fight with a snake, or vision of an ancestor. “Even now—or especially now—in a world where 
we are constantly running from one commitment to another and do so much ‘because we have to’, nature can be a great teacher,” Rijk said. “We have so many distractions, so much to process, that we often 
don’t know who we are anymore.”

I’ve been given a tent cloth for shelter, a whistle and a tarp to lie on. I myself brought a sleeping bag, a mat, warm clothes, toilet paper, a shovel to dig a hole for a toilet, a flashlight, two bottles of water (one mixed with lemon juice and maple syrup), anti-mosquito spray, tick tweezers and a hat. That’s it.

  • Read how Eva’s adventure continues in issue 32.

Text Eva Loesberg  Fotografie Kyle Mims/@mimskyle

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