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People on the Trail ~ Sara Gilliam

I found Sara Gilliam on instagram, For sure, you'll want to follow her there, and join her tribe on as well as her new venture listed at the end of this entry. She is a wonder in the outdoors! I love her adventures, Women Who Rock Wednesdays and her Fungus Friday posts on insta. I asked her to sit down with a few interview questions about herself and solo camping...

Tell us a bit about yourself. I'm a single mom that loves hiking, survival skills, camping, photography, backpacking and fishing. I enjoy travel and jump at the chance to road trip to a new place. More often than not, my dog Fernando is by my side.

How did you come to Solo Camping? I went camping by myself for the first time when I was in my early 20's. At that time, I saw it as an opportunity to spend some time with myself and my thoughts. Later in life I started getting more into backpacking and sustaining myself in the outdoors. I didn't have any friends interested in those sorts of activities, so I started going out on my own. Heading out for my first solo overnight in the wild was a little scary, but also incredibly empowering.

What is different for you about Solo Camping vs with friends or family? Pros and Cons? I love camping by myself. It's incredibly relaxing and fun. When I camp solo I can go where I want, sleep when I want, etc. Camping with friends and family is also a great time. It's nice having people to share the experiences with while out in nature.

It looks like you have a canine companion on adventures - tell us a bit about that!

Fernando, my 5 year old mastiff, has been my hiking partner for years. He loves hiking, swimming and camping. Fernando has his own backpack for our extended trips on the trail. He carries his own food, water and extra supplies.

How frequently do you go Solo Camping each year? It really just depends. Last year was a little crazy, but generally I get out solo camping once a month. Sometimes I stay at a campground and go hiking/fishing during the day. Sometimes it's a day or two spent on the trail away from everything.

Are you a 2, 3 or 4-season camper, and why? I'm a 4 season camper. I love hiking/camping in the winter. It's always so quiet and you can see so much more. My least favorite season for camping is probably summer. Summer is just too hot for sleeping outside.

Where's your favorite spot to SoloCamp, and why? I love spending time in the Shawnee National Forest. I grew up in that area so the forest feels like home. Another of my favorites is Bell Mountain here in Missouri. That's where I went on my very first solo backpacking trip. Both bring back a lot of great memories.

What do you love to do Solo Camping ~ favorite pastimes or activities, in and out of camp? I really enjoy camp chores; setting up, prepping firewood, collecting water, etc. Once the work is done I like to explore around camp, listen to some music or write in my journal.

What’s your ride-or-die piece of gear and why?

I have a list of necessities I have with me anytime I'm out in the wild. A couple items I never head out into the woods without are my Platypus GravityWorks water filtration system and my LT Wright GNS Saber knife. I feel more comfortable heading out into the woods with everything I would need to sustain myself if something were to go wrong. By carrying my water filtration system and my knife, I know I can provide myself with water, shelter and fire.

What’s a memorable mishap when camping, and your solution? A few years ago, while camping in the winter, the temperature dropped to the low 20's. All of my water froze overnight. Luckily, I was able to use my cookstove to thaw some ice for my coffee (an absolute necessity) and Fernando's water. Now I know if the temps are going to be below freezing to put my water bladder in my sleeping bag with me.

What advice do you have for the reader who wishes she could do what you do, but doesn’t think she can? My advice would be to go for it! If the concern is safety, start with someplace you have been before and know. Make sure you understand first aid and self-defense basics. The best way to get comfortable camping on your own is practice. Practice setting up your gear, starting a fire, etc. You will make mistakes, but that's ok. That's the best way to learn!

Where can we keep up with you? Follow me on on Instagram, and as well as my new business venture, LivingWildOutdoorAdventures on instagram ~ Living Wild is a new business I’m launching with my best friend, outdoorjamaican. We are an outdoor guide business focusing on teaching people to be sustainable in the outdoors.

"Allow things to come and go, keeping your heart as open as the sky." ~ Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching

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