Last mission to repair the Hubble telescope Hubble space telescope discoveries have enriched our understanding of the cosmos. In this special report, you will see facts about the Hubble space telescope, discoveries it has made and what the last mission's goals are.
For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
Fill out this form to email this article to a friend
Going it alone
A woman tests herself, hiking Georgia's wild Cumberland Island on her own.
By TERRY TOMALIN
Published March 9, 2005
To build character and self-esteem, many outdoor leadership schools require students to spend time in the wilderness alone.
The experience can be both exhilarating and frightening, but the results are well worth it. Learning to depend on one's wits and skill is an essential step in becoming a well-rounded outdoorsman.
Outward Bound, the world's most famous wilderness school, is credited with developing the "solo" concept. These solitary excursions can last from a few hours to several days, but those who have gone it alone and succeeded remember it as a life-enriching experience.
"Going solo is something that I always wanted to do," said Rynea Shaw, a 55-year-old mother of two who recently set out on foot to conquer Georgia's Cumberland Island. "I wanted to test myself ... see if I could do it. I had done plenty of camping and backpacking before, but not by myself ... that's a whole different story."
As wild places go, 17-mile-long Cumberland Island on the Florida-Georgia border is not for the weak-hearted. With its swamps, salt marshes, hardwood hammocks and rolling sand dunes, the island's trails are a challenge for even veteran backpackers. Throw in alligators, rattlesnakes and a herd of wild horses and you have the makings of a world-class adventure.
"It is the kind of place where if you need something and haven't brought it, you are out of luck, you just learn to do without," Shaw said. "But that is the great thing about backpacking. You have your house, living room, closet and kitchen on your back."
Shaw, born and raised in Orlando, camped with her husband and children for years. After her divorce in 1999, she continued the outdoor tradition with her teenage son and daughter.
"I loved Cumberland Island, so that's one of the first places I took them," Shaw said.
But in December, with her daughter in college and her son a senior in high school, she decided to treat herself to a solo outing.
A planner who is meticulous down to the "smallest scrap of cheese," she laid out her gear in her living room.
"I check each piece of gear - sleeping bag, backpack and tent for damage to zippers, tears, whatever," she said. "I also light my backpacking stove and lantern before I leave home to make sure I can eat and see."
Going through her "dry run," Shaw discovered the stove's gas line leaked.
"There wasn't time to send it out to be repaired so I ran down to Bill Jackson's and bought another stove," she said. "Yes, and I tested that stove too as soon as I took it out of the box."
Then on a cold, wet morning, she left home a few minutes after 3 and drove five hours to catch the ferry that would take her to Cumberland Island National Seashore.
On the island, she slung her 25-pound pack on her back and headed toward her campsite at Stafford Beach. A Nor'Easter, with 35 mph winds, forced her off the beach and onto an inland trail.
"Some backpackers are such purists I expect they eat the bark off of trees, but that is not me," Shaw said. "I think it is important to remember that the trip is for pleasure, so make it pleasurable."
Shaw said hiking and backpacking is cheaper than therapy. "It is a nonchemical Prozac and not an exercise of pain," she said. "I wanted to go out there to chill."
Cumberland Island is secluded, accessible only by boat. The backcountry campsites are spread out. If you spend the night in the woods, your only companions are raccoons, armadillos and the occasional great horned owl.
"For safety reasons, I knew I had to pick my campsite carefully," she said. "If you are a woman traveling alone, you want to be off the beaten path."
When it is time to camp, Shaw said she is never without creature comforts.
"I like to have a glass of red wine before dinner ... merlot," she said. "I bring a little hard salami and some cheese and have that as an appetizer. It is a ritual."
Then Shaw always cooks a meal from scratch on her backpacking stove. Her Cumberland Island menu: flour tortilla, red beans and rice, with some hot sauce to add a little kick.
After a dinner and a good night's sleep, Shaw used her Stafford Beach camp as a base for exploration.
"I walked all over the island," she said. "There's a lot to see in two days."
On her second night alone, Shaw kicked back and enjoyed the solitude.
"The thing I like about camping alone is the serenity," she said. "There is nobody to talk to ... nobody to whine."
On the third and final day of her solo trip, Shaw got up before dawn, ate breakfast, then broke camp.
"I busted it down the trail to the Sea Camp dock to catch the 10:45 ferry back to St. Marys," she said. "Still smilin'."
GETTING THERE: A passenger ferry runs between Cumberland Island and St. Marys every day except December through February when it doesn't run on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Reservations can be made six months in advance. Call 1-888-817-3421.
SUPPLIES: You must bring your own food and gear. Water is available at the visitor center, museum, ranger station and Sea Camp campground.
CAMPING: There is a developed campground at Sea Camp Beach. The backcountry sites - Brickhill Bluff, Yankee Paradise, Hickory Hill and Stafford Beach - have no facilities.
SAFETY: The Dungeness ruins are unsafe and full of rattlesnakes. The ticks on the island may carry Lyme Disease.
FOR INFORMATION: Contact the Cumberland Island National Seashore, P.O. Box 806, St. Marys, GA 31558 or go to www.nps.gov/cuis
PLANNING A SOLO ADVENTURE?
Pick a spot you are familiar with, if possible. You will feel more comfortable if you are familiar with your surroundings.
Do some research with safety in mind. A state park that has rangers who live on the premises might be a better choice than a state forest that is not patrolled.
Do a "dry run" day trip in a park before you plan your overnight or multi-day adventure. Pack the same way you would for your trip so you know what to expect.
Lay out your gear before you embark on your trip and make sure everything works. Then make a list and check it twice.
Make sure you tell a friend or relative where you are going and when you expect to be back.