Something extraordinary and unexpected happened this weekend that gave me much to think about. But first a little history. Some twenty odd years ago I was into caving. Not in a major way, just curiosity I guess. Anyway, to cut a long story short, we were using the old coal board lamps with a battery pack on a belt and in a very tight long crawl my pack got jammed between me and the wall which stopped me dead in the tunnel. I tried wriggling backwards but couldnt and forwards just wasnt happening. I was last in line so there was no one behind me to help and the guy in front was a long way from anywhere he could turn round to get back to me. My arms were both reaching forward and there was very little room to get my arm round to move the battery pack. As I tried to get my arm into a position to help, my elbow got lodged into a cleft as well. For a moment I thought I was really stuck and a creeping sense of panic started to rise. Eventually I managed to calm myself enough to deal with the situation by rotating slightly and pulling my belly in a lot, but it was a bad moment and I didnt do much more caving after that incident. Back to this weekend. I was away on a course and one of the objectives was to build debris shelters. The design we settled on after a couple of false starts was a couple of shelters just large enough for three people each. There were plenty of cut poles provided and not a bad supply of debris to be found so the construction was straight forward although a bit rushed. We moved onto other things and returned to the shelters later to sleep. I elected to enter the shelter first at the left with Debs in the middle and Andy on the right. To fit us all in I had to wedge myself tightly into the edge which pinned my left arm down and I zipped up my bag with the right. Debs then moved in snugly on my right and Andy slipped in on the far side and we were all under cover. I couldnt move without disturbing the shelter or Debs. It was restrictive but not really uncomfortable which was evidenced by the speed I fell to sleep. A couple of hours later I woke up in the grip of panic. I dont know if it was some kind of flashback or something new but my heart was racing and I was really scared. For a moment my eyes opened and I still couldnt see a thing. The hood of my sleeping bag was over my eyes but my rational mind soon regained control as I realized where I was and what was actually happening. I started to calm down and think clearly but the next thing that happened took me completely by surprise. I tried to open my sleeping bag but I couldnt feel my fingers, they were quite numb and so now were my lips. As I tried to work this out my legs suddenly went cold followed by my arms. To my amazement, I was going into shock even though I thought the sense of crisis had passed! My first thought was if I didnt do something now, I might pass out and no one would know. I pushed hard against the sides of the bag and the zip burst open. I sat up as best I could, apologised to Debs for disturbing her and said something like "Im going to check on the fire." The fire was dying out, but soon revived with a bit of tlc and I spent the rest of the night sat by it figuring out what had happened. What struck me most was how unexpected it all was. I was completely unprepared for an attack of claustrophobia in the outdoors, indeed I had no idea I was even prone to it. I started thinking about how I normally sleep outdoors and although I sometimes use a tent I much prefer a tarp or even just a blanket under the stars. I always have and I suspect I always will. Although I felt a complete fool at the time it happened, it has put a completely new perspective upon my trips into the wilds and the methods I tend to use.