Forum Index » General Lightweight Backpacking Discussion » how many of you do solo trips?


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Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
how many of you do solo trips? on 07/01/2012 16:09:00 MDT Print View

Mostly solo for me (always carry a PLB). I am a real introvert and enjoy time on my own. Also my day to day life can be quite stressful and I need time away from everything. I usually go out for about 4 days three nights, and in New Zealand solo really does mean solo. I wont generally see anyone from the morning of first day to some time on afternoon of the final day. I also prefer to camp rather than stay in huts and this makes me somewhat unusual in kiwi tramping circles. To be honest I would rather not go than go with a large tramping club group and stay in a hut.

On my last two trips there have been a couple of times when I think I would have made better decisions with someone along side me, but I derived a lot of satisfaction from getting through it alone.

I love being on my own, but it does limit how adventurous my trips can be. So I would consider going with one or two others in the future, but no larger group than that and it would have to be the right people.

Back in my youth I did lots of hiking on Dartmoor in teams of six and loved it. I also treasure my father and son trips and the one time a year all of us get out for a family backpacking trip.

Sean Nordeen
(Miner) - F - M

Locale: SoCAL
Solo Trips on 07/01/2012 19:44:20 MDT Print View

If I didn't go solo, I'd almost never go hiking. The first few times, it kind of bothered me going out for more than 1 night, but once I forced myself to go out for more then 3 days, I quickly got use to it. Usually my trips are 4-7 days though I have no issues with going longer. I technically hiked the PCT solo and am about to do the AT southbound solo, but on those trails, you usually will hike around other hikers most of the time with only occasional times being truely solo.

John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
Re: Pilgrimage on 07/01/2012 20:08:08 MDT Print View

FWIW I highly recommend viewing the 2010 movie titled "The Way". It is a film by Emilio Estevez starring Martin Sheen.

Sheen's character seems to want to go solo but soon becomes one of a group of four hikers on the Camino de Santiago. His interactions with other hikers / pilgrims and people along the way are very moving.

The story is very good and the scenery is wonderful.

This 500 mile / 800 kilometer trek is on my bucket list! ;-)

Party On,

Newton

Daniel Cox
(COHiker) - F

Locale: San Isabel NF
Re: Re: Pilgrimage on 07/01/2012 20:22:04 MDT Print View

Just watched "The Way" on Netflix. Surprisingly excellent.

john braun
(Hitman) - F

Locale: West Florida
The Way on 07/01/2012 22:34:05 MDT Print View

Yes, The Way makes me want to hike the El Camino and I'm not even Catholic.

Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
how many of you do solo trips? on 07/01/2012 23:41:08 MDT Print View

http://francistapon.com/Travels/Spain-Trails/10-Reasons-Why-El-Camino-Santiago-Sucks

Susan Papuga
(veganaloha) - M

Locale: USA
Re: how many of you do solo trips? on 07/02/2012 04:38:11 MDT Print View

I mostly do solo trips whether it's for a weekend, a few weeks or much longer. I enjoy the solitude and flexibility of following my own star.

That said, I am happy to have some company at times along the way on longer journeys as long as my travel style and whims are compatible with those of new friends and happy to to separate when they aren't or just when the time is right. I like the flexibility this gives me and it keeps things enjoyable and low or zero stress.

Daniel Cox
(COHiker) - F

Locale: San Isabel NF
Re: The Way on 07/02/2012 06:55:22 MDT Print View

Though not on my bucket list, I'd enjoy walking the Camino for the culture, not the religion.

Walking from village to village staying in inns, eating local food and drinking wine for a month sounds pretty sweet to me.
Yes, I know there are many other such experiences all over Europe, they sound fun too.

Edit: LoL thread drift.

Edited by COHiker on 07/02/2012 06:56:13 MDT.

Sabine Funk
(SabineFunk) - F
=) on 07/03/2012 06:25:09 MDT Print View

Nice thread =)

I started soloing because I had noone who wanted to go hiking. So I had to choose between not hiking at all or going solo.
After 3 years of doing so I can hardly imagine hiking with others.
It's so nice to be in complete silence all day long and I see a lot more wild animals than groups do.
And after all, I can stop whenever I want, pitch my tent where I want and go as fast and far as I want. That's a lot of freedom =)

Patricia Combee
(Trailfrog) - F

Locale: Northeast/Southeast your call
"how many of you do solo trips? on 07/04/2012 18:22:53 MDT Print View

I most generally go on about 80% of my trips solo. The dog goes most times, but usually not on holiday weekends (she does not like other dogs much). I have done up to 9 day trips solo. Most of my trips are weekend or long weekend trips.
Solo: I set the pace, I stop when I want, hike however hard I want, camp wherever I want, whenever I want. I do like going with other people, but if I don't go solo,then I would not get to go as much; and that is not an option.

I do give more thought to risk taking when solo (but even when with a partner, caution is good, I hate to have my hiking buddy bale me out just because I did something stupid).

Mitch Chesney
(MChesney) - F
All the time on 07/12/2012 10:14:08 MDT Print View

It seems the hiking people I know are of the mindset that solo camping will end in brutal death so even when I do a solo night hike they make plans for my funeral. I've come to appreciate the solitude.

Todd Hein
(todd1960) - MLife

Locale: Coastal Southern California
Just tried a solo overnight... on 07/12/2012 16:41:08 MDT Print View

I was with two other people on a two day trip. They had to bail mid-day on the first day so I continued alone. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it: Going my own pace, stopping when I wanted to, looking around, etc. Very enjoyable and I will do it again (on purpose).

Chris Lacey
(Staplebox) - F
A couple quotes from Thoreau on the subject - on his birthday on 07/12/2012 18:27:59 MDT Print View

"The man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready."

"I love to be alone. I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude."

Harald Hope
(hhope)

Locale: East Bay
solo on 07/22/2012 15:29:53 MDT Print View

solo, I used to try to go with friends, but I'm tired of the headache of syncing plans and all that, plus different skill levels, and all that noise at night, and, shudder, the monster in the room nobody has yet mentioned: snoring and snorers. Moving to light gear I actually made a conscious decision to not get anything other than solo gear, for the first time ever, and that was and is very liberating in my opinion.

To me the saddest moment on a trail is having spent x days without seeing a single person then seeing the first person again.

Some other practical pains with hiking with others: the pace, unless your stride and speed are identical, one of you will always be waiting for the other on climbs and so on, and one will never get the right amount of rest, and one never enough. Whereas alone I stop when I want, eat when I want, camp where I want, when I want, after the number of miles I felt like doing that day. Plus the other advantages that Paul mentioned eloquently, I just don't see much communing with nature going on while chatting with others, I am around other people in cities every day of the year, I don't need that when going out there. Maybe one highly compatible person, but since I've never met that person, I'll have to consider that a theoretically possible but never empirically verified possibility.

I'm not opposed to going with others but the advantages of going solo are just too great, as is the solitude, the trance of the day's walk, all that. Plus if you are in a wild spot with no flat ground, you can always find a 2x6 spot that is flat enough, but two of them? Not as easy. I like depending on myself for everything every day, and I like my company. Now it's nice talking to some hippy kids now and then on the trail, that's always a refreshing interlude, but then it's time to go on.

I find that it's more likely I will get seriously hurt going with someone else, my focus and attention just aren't as high when with someone else, but when I'm alone, there's no doubt about it, I have to pay attention, there's nobody to fall back on. This is also known as mindfulness, and I find solo backpacking the very best test of mindfulness I have yet found. Just no doubt about when you slip up. Worst hiking accident I ever had was trusting someone else who didn't merit that trust, took me two years to recover from that.

Edited by hhope on 07/22/2012 15:52:33 MDT.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Solo and Partners on 07/22/2012 16:19:01 MDT Print View

I'm a big fan of solo trips.

That said, I don't really buy the argument that solo trips are somehow safer because partners are a distraction or detriment of some sort. At least not good partners. Let us make that distinction.

I do travel with a heightened sense of care when solo. But the idea that that sense of care alone will protect me, and that I forfeit that sense of care when others are around, is somewhat silly. I have a handful of friends that I'd be willing to tackle some pretty serious stuff alongside. Things I would not even consider alone.

Partners are a lifeline.

I'm thinking back to my last trip in the Sierra with Jack H., Casey, James, and Adan. Climbing the shifting class 2 and 3 talus blocks of Mt. Solomons certainly causes one to consider the ease of an accident in such places. Not only do I have an obligation to be diligent for my own sake, I owe it to my partners. They will be the ones faced with an epic should I become seriously injured. They will be the ones trying to assess the situation, administer aid, haul me out...
James and I were climbing pretty close together, communicating regularly to stay out of each other's paths for fear of dislodged rocks. The fact that we were in earshot of each other for the entire climb added safety, not insecurity, in my book.

Jack took a good fall in the Ionian Basin. Jack is a serious and experienced outdoorsman. It was an accident, plain and simple. No amount of planning, diligence, or caution can protect us from certain things. It could have been a potentially BAD fall; head trauma, broken ribs, etc. It was certainly high enough and on rough enough terrain. Remote, fairly inaccessible, it would be a real epic to extract someone from back there without a helicopter. And if bad weather hit, it would be a real epic waiting out a storm for rescue; it's a land of rock, lakes, peaks, and glacier- no cover. I don't believe anyone injured in this sort of situation would wish they were alone.

I'm planning a very hard single day run on a primarily XC route (peaks and ridges) through my local mountains in the coming weeks. Remote, with plenty of exposed class 3 (class 4 with poor route finding). I'm strongly weighing whether or not to take a partner. The appeal of going solo is great. But a capable partner should only extend what is safe. If I considered a partner a distraction or detriment to my safety somehow, they're not getting an invite in the first place.

Harald Hope
(hhope)

Locale: East Bay
backpacking, not climbing on 07/22/2012 17:03:13 MDT Print View

climbing is a totally different animal, the risks are way too high there, and the injuries you are likely to get too serious, try to distinguish between different things. Even moderate climbing I agree is best done with partners, but then again, that's why I don't do it, it's just not the same thing as backpacking, if you take real care backpacking, you are not likely to have problems in general, climbing is far less predictable and controllable. I would say it's almost precisely the fact that you need partners climbing to be safe that makes it a different activity than backpacking, doesn't mean backpackers can't also climb on some routes, but it's not really the same thing.

I'm talking about backpacking, not climbing. I agree about climbing, but I don't climb, doesn't appeal to me, I have too many friends who have serious injuries from that activity and it's too gear oriented for my taste, missing that zen peace thing that backpacking has. Of course, not that that stopped the man with the most first ascents of the sierras ever, John Muir, but nowadays people are a bit more .... risk averse, I guess is the right word.

What people I think are talking about when discussing solo backpacking is this kind of zen trance state you get into, where mindfulness of your surroundings merges with your own thoughts into this unique and very special time. Some adrenaline fans have a hard time catching that subtle string of moments and so go for more extreme things, which is great, leaves the trails free and open.

Edited by hhope on 07/22/2012 17:06:48 MDT.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: backpacking, not climbing on 07/22/2012 17:25:24 MDT Print View

"Of course, not that that stopped the man with the most first ascents of the sierras ever, John Muir,"

Maybe, but Norman Clyde climbed the difficult stuff.

Just think, none of these guys had to worry about getting wilderness permits.

--B.G.--

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
It is backpacking, not climbing. on 07/22/2012 17:54:25 MDT Print View

There exists an entire world of backpacking, not climbing, that does not take place on trails or established routes.

Harald Hope
(hhope)

Locale: East Bay
same difference on 07/22/2012 18:59:51 MDT Print View

craig, you're talking about the same thing I am, only I think you're thinking climbing as a word means having tons of gear, it doesn't, it means you are engaging in climbing steep things that if you fall off you will get very badly hurt, as you say here:

"James and I were climbing pretty close together, communicating regularly to stay out of each other's paths for fear of dislodged rocks. The fact that we were in earshot of each other for the entire climb added safety, not insecurity, in my book."

See your words there? That's the climbing I'm talking about. If you mean something other than climbing your words should reflect that, or it gets too confusing. Once I am using my hands and feet on a descent/ascent, I consider it climbing, more or less, and maybe an order of magnitude more dangerous than backpacking itself. Not my thing, as noted, I've met one too many maimed people who have been airlifted to safety who do that sort of thing to find it appealing, but each to their own.

I understand what you are talking about, every time I've gone off trail for any reasonable amount of distance, I end up doing something I'd consider climbing quite soon. Just because someone engages in climbing type high risk activities while backpacking doesn't make it not climbing, it's climbing, and I agree, those type of high risk activities are different in kind, and require a different approach, as you correctly note, ie, they are not really appropriate for solo stuff as a rule, unless... they are, I guess. Skurka seemed to do ok beyond some boredom and loneliness, so I guess it really depends on the person. So did Lars Monsen, who also crossed Canada off trail mostly all by himself.

You used the words climbing correctly to denote climbing type activity, there's no other adequate description, and that's why I agreed with you, and will agree again, when you engage in climbing type activities, where serious falls will probably require an expensive tax payer subsidized helicopter airlift out as the actual final plan b, you certainly need to take the proper level of care, including having competent companions to avoid that plan b outcome. Personally I find it more interesting to do whatever, but accept that death is the price of failure, then to tailor my actions to that reality.

So you're correct to note that not all actions taken while wearing a backpack are best done solo, and to remind readers of this thread of that, although 99.9% of the readers aren't going to be engaging in that type of activity.

Edited by hhope on 07/22/2012 19:01:41 MDT.