"I, for example, think solo hiking is a safe and responsible enough thing to do for certain hikers. Tom, OTOH, believes solo hiking is not safe enough. But hiking in a group is OK."
I am truly puzzled by your comments, Ben. I have assembled my posts to this thread below for reference, prefaced by the context in which I made them. Nowhere have I implied that everyone should hike in a group, or that soloing is inherently more risky to the hiker than hiking in a group. What I have tried to say is that anyone comtemplating a solo hike should be think thru the consequences should something go wrong, the secondary risks if you will. Those secondary risks concern the impact on family, as well as the expense, time, and risks to SAR personnel. I would suggest you re read my posts, paying particular attention to post #3, in which I said explicitly that I was not convinced that solo hiking is, in and of itself, riskier. My posts throughout this thread have been focused on considering everything that goes into hiking solo, including personal risk and consequences for others. Then, if you decide it is worth it, proceed properly equipped and with proper route information left with a responsible person. I speak as one who has done a lot of solo hiking, a substantial amount of it off trail, during my backpacking career. I would be the last person to recommend against it. I thought you were aware of this, but apparently I was mistaken.
#1 - In response to Kevin's concerns about something going wrong when hiking solo.
'The cold hard truth, Kevin, is that every once in a while an incident like this occurs and, while terribly sad, it does serve to clarify the risks inherent in solo hiking. I feel for his family and friends, and am sad for him, but also see it as an object lesson for those who contemplate soloing but may not have thought thru the potential consequences. Anyone who does so should do it with their eyes wide open.'
#2 - In response to Diane's post about having partner not helping if you have a heart attack, PLB or not.
"True enough, but it sure would have saved SAR a lot of time, expense, and personal risk.
#3 - In response to Paul's excellent posr outining the fallout from a mishap while hiking solo.
"+1 With one minor qualification: 'But generally, solo is riskier.'
I'm not convinced hiking solo, in and of itself, is riskier, but the consequences of a mishap are potentially much more severe. In the event you are incapacitated, you simply have no backup, even if you are carrying a PLB, a good first aid kit, have the knowledge to use both, and are in a location where a PLB can transmit/receive. Hiking with one or more partners greatly reduces the chance of being unable to either self rescue or summon help, not to mention stabilize a severely injured hiker. What Paul said in his post is well worth thinking thru very carefully before deciding to hike solo. If the decision is still to do so, at least carry a PLB and a good first aid kit, know how to use them, leave your intended route with a responsible person, and stick to that route. My 2 cents."