Backpacking solo
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Steve Meier
(smeier) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Would like to solo more... on 04/16/2014 11:44:21 MDT Print View

I did my first (and still only) solo in the Smokeys on a great 57 mile loop about 18 months ago. Two months later I had a heart attack. I suspect that as long as I am married I won't be doing another solo hike but I loved the experience. I would still go it alone but my wife is now fearful. Oh well...

John Caldwell
(chaunce316) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Solo trips on 04/20/2014 19:58:00 MDT Print View

I too struggled with my first solo trips, I loved the idea of the solo trip but in practice my head just wasn't in the right spot. Finally I did a quick out and back weekend trip. I just hiked head down until almost dark and I had no choice but to spend the night. Didn't sleep much that first night but after that it just became easy. Now I like solo for a couple reasons: 1-I enjoy the solitude. 2-it seems easier to make trip decisions with yourself:)

Jeff Sims
(jeffreytsims) - MLife

Locale: So. Cal
solo on 04/20/2014 23:11:09 MDT Print View

I have always hiked solo and only recently started hiking with a friend at times. At first I had a hard time sleeping but enjoyed the rest of the time. I found that 2-3 night trips were great and I was usually ready to get home to the family. last year I hit the JMT NOBO and solo and after camping near others the first 2 nights I found myself getting as far from other as possible the other 6 nights. However in the winter with a big mid, long night and a card game, company is nice.

Edward Jursek
(nedjursek@gmail.com) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Solo on 04/21/2014 20:14:36 MDT Print View

I moved to Seattle with my wife and had no friends here when we arrived. My wife doesn't hike, so it was go solo or not at all. I started slow, with some easy overnights and progressed to week long solo trips. It did feel weird at first, but now I love it. I have found hiking partners, but due to schedules, I still go out alone about the half the time. A detailed safety plan is a must, that includes the dates I will be gone, my route, and what Agencies to contact if I don't turn up. I stick pretty closely to my route. In 15 years I have never had an issue. Some of my best hikes, like the CDT through the Weminuche, the Enchantments, and the Boundary Trail I did solo.

brian H
(B14) - M

Locale: Siskiyou Mtns
people tend to pack their fears on 04/24/2014 21:32:29 MDT Print View

i had a couple pints recently with a new friend who is a double Triple Crowner.
at the link below you can watch a great clip on him
where he explains, while talking about Less is More,
that people tend to "pack their fears".
It really resonated for me.

http://www.opb.org/television/programs/ofg/segment/ultralight-hiking

Roger Dodger
(RogerDodger) - F

Locale: Wess Siide
Re: people tend to pack their fears on 04/24/2014 22:02:05 MDT Print View

I agree about the fear comment.
another approach is the old fashioned risk management matrix.

identify all the possible things that could go wrong.
score the likelihood that each risk could occur.
score the severity that each risk could impact you.
then for the risks that score high, define a mitigating plan.

examples:
risk A: bear attack.
risk B: escaped prisoners will murder you.
risk C: it might rain.
risk D: foot blister

likelihood A: low, so 1.
likelihood B: low, I'm thinking zero.
likelihood C: very good chance of rain, 9.
likelihood D: possible blister, 4

severity A: bear attack, 6.
severity B: murderous escaped prisoners, 10.
severity C: rain, hypothermia, 3.
severity 4: just a blister, I'll live. 1.

score out of a max score of 10 x 10 = 100
score A: 1 x 6 = 6
score B: 0 x 10 = 0
score C: 9 x 3 = 27
score D: 4 x 1 = 4

next step is mitigating as necessary.
A: 6 score out of 100 for bear attack, so mitigate with bear can and best practices.
B: zero score out of 100 for murderous prisoners, so do nothing.
C: 27 score out of 100 for hypothermia, mitigate with rain gear.
d: 4 score out of 100 for foot blister, bring a bandaid, mitigate with smartwool socks.


figure out your own scenario, assess your own realistic score, then figure out a plan to mitigate the risk.

Some things are VERY dangerous, but unlikely to happen. Other things are minor but high probability of occurring. Not all dangers are equal.

Read up on wiki about risk mgmt. This is the generic high level.

TKB 1979
(ARIZONA1979) - M

Locale: DESERT SOUTHWEST
SOLO on 04/27/2014 17:37:43 MDT Print View

First, I'm new to this site - I just joined a few minutes ago to begin learning the tricks of the trade - so I am certainly not an expert, but excited to get better.

As far as solo backpacking, I sort of noticed all at once that I've turned down a few group hike/overnight opportunities over the past couple months that I would not have turned down a year ago. I ended up going out anyway, but solo, which is new for me.

I noticed I planned better, paid more attention to time, weather, terrain, made situational assessments more realistically (should I really cross here?), spent more time checking my gear prior to departure, caught myself conceptualizing solutions to foreseeable problems when I might otherwise have been joking around with buddies, and just generally felt a greater sense of responsibility when making decisions and executing them. (Along with this came a greater sense of freedom.)

I believe, for me, hiking with others led to a false sense of security. Perhaps unconsciously, I knew in the back of my mind that someone's got to have extra batteries, extra water, extra fuel, etc. Someone knows where we're at and how to get out. If they can cross here, I can, too, et cetera.

I've been out solo now over the past three weekends (partly due to a new pack) & have come back feeling better than I used to when out with friends. I'm not quite sure if I can articulate exactly why, though. It's probably a combinations of things ....

For example, I slipped bouldering solo through a canyon wash just yesterday. I knocked my ribs pretty good against a rock & a few items went flying from my pack. (Matter of fact, it still hurts to sneeze - lol.) At first I was stunned, but then had to assess, re-orient, and keep moving on, knowing I had only an hour or so before nightfall. I honestly feel great about it, I'm happier because of it, or feel more alive or something. I think I will learn more about life & what I'm worth going solo.

Gordon Gray
(GordonG) - F

Locale: Front Range, CO
solo virginity on 05/01/2014 12:15:03 MDT Print View

I will be taking my first solo trip next week. 27 mile loop in the Lost Creek Wilderness in CO. Just until recently, I have had hesitations about going solo. All for unknown, irrational reasons which I have since tackled.

Regarding some comments above about 'false sense of security when hiking with others', I find that totally true. I have taken my 9 year old daughter out - just the two of us. I didn't feel unsecure at all. Though, other than be good company, I'm not totally sure what she could do in an emergency situation. Not sure I would be comfortable sending her by herself to get help if I was immobilized.

Paul Andronico
(Jakesandwich) - M

Locale: S.F. Bay Area
Have a great trip! on 05/01/2014 13:55:44 MDT Print View

Have a great trip, Gordon. I did my first solo overnight last summer, and then did another one later the in summer. Nice feeling of accomplishment and overcoming fears. Go get 'em!

J Mag
(GoProGator) - F
Re: solo virginity on 05/05/2014 11:16:14 MDT Print View

Ever since I moved to DC last year I have been doing most of my trips solo because I don't really know anyone in the area.

I don't really find going solo as intimidating, but I also don't get the excitement that a lot of people seem to feel from doing something you find intimidating. Although to be fair a deer almost ran through my tarp at 2am last weekend and waking up to that got my heart racing. Thankfully I could tell it wasn't a bear by the speed it was moving.

Honestly solo backpacking to me gets boring after a few consecutive trips because I go so often (2-3 weekends a month) and I don't like the 3-4 hour round trip drive by myself. I think a 50/50 solo/group split is ideal for me.

Alexander S
(Cascadicus) - M
solo but not alone on 06/16/2014 11:57:22 MDT Print View

My first solo trip was along the Pacific coast on the WA peninsula in the middle of winter with dark clouds, driving rain/snow, high waves and it was kind of freaky being by myself. It was an amazing trip that I didn't really enjoy like I should've.
I didn't see another backpacker all weekend.

It takes getting used to but you may find that you may look forward to the a few days of solitude and self reliance.

Try going solo on a popular trail where you will run into other hikers. Just knowing that people are around can help you bridge the "separation anxiety".

Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Re: Backpacking solo on 06/16/2014 20:55:38 MDT Print View

I hiked the whole PCT solo, in multiple sections. I enjoyed it a lot. I felt like I could pay more attention to every little thing. When I sometimes hiked with others, I would realize that whole chunks of the trail went missing in my memory.

Over Christmas vacation I did a solo hike locally, just 2 nights if I remember correctly. I brought a book and a musical instrument. I even made a fire so I wouldn't go to bed at 5PM for lack of anything better to do.

I don't seem to feel scared of mishaps or dangerous things, mostly if I am worried about being alone it's the worry of how to fill up all this time. In winter especially with such long nights, but also on some trails you just can't hike forever and ever or else you might end up somewhere where there isn't a trail or you might end your hike too early.

I just returned from a 7 day trip on the JMT/PCT. I was with my boyfriend. I don't know what his problem was but he stayed 10 minutes or more behind me almost all the time. He barely spoke to me at rest breaks. We had separate tents because he was planning to continue on another 3 or 4 weeks after I got off the trail. He mumbled and grumbled the whole time and I started to wonder if he even likes backpacking. It was the loneliest trip ever. I finally relieved him of his misery being with me and took off down the trail alone early rather than spend one more night with Mr. Grumpy Sad-sack. Thank god for the thru-hikers out there otherwise I wouldn't have had anybody to talk to or any fun at all the entire time. Sometimes loneliness is better than being with someone awful.

Billy Ray
(rosyfinch) - M

Locale: the mountains
Re: Sick and Twisted on 06/16/2014 21:10:54 MDT Print View

I'm with Delmar...

Actually, one of the reasons I backpack solo at my advanced age is to up my odds of dying doing what I love... as opposed to dying in a hospital... not a death wish, just upping the odds of not dying in a hospital...

b

Billy Ray
(rosyfinch) - M

Locale: the mountains
Re: Re: Backpacking solo on 06/16/2014 21:23:34 MDT Print View

"...I was with my boyfriend. I don't know what his problem was but he stayed 10 minutes or more behind me almost all the time. He barely spoke to me at rest breaks..."

So Piper, are you taking applications for a new boyfriend now? :)

Billy

alan genser
(alan) - F - M

Locale: NE
anti-social anxiety on 06/17/2014 05:52:11 MDT Print View

this could sound out of left field...but a person in your situation could start with *really* small baby steps, like going out to see a movie by oneself. just to see/work through if there's some lack-of-social anxiety (reverse social anxiety? anti-social anxiety?) at play.

then spend the night in your backyard alone (or similar), then car camp somewhere by oneself...

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: anti-social anxiety on 06/17/2014 07:40:04 MDT Print View

"...but a person in your situation could start with *really* small baby steps, like going out to see a movie by oneself. "

You might want to specify who you are talking to as this thread is 3 months old. I don't recall anyone in the thread, including the OP who has by now probably moved on to doing 3 week expeditions by himself in grizzly country, expressing issues even remotely of this type.

Edited by millonas on 06/17/2014 07:56:13 MDT.

Ian B.
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: anti-social anxiety on 06/17/2014 08:46:40 MDT Print View

"It was the loneliest trip ever. I finally relieved him of his misery being with me and took off down the trail alone early rather than spend one more night with Mr. Grumpy Sad-sack."

Yeah that sounds like a serious red flag. A guy from my platoon at Ft. Campbell behaved that way. He was pleasant enough to hang around with when we were in garrison but he was a miserable pice of work when we were out in the field. Not sure why the woods had a paradoxical effect on him.

Seems like the very very large majority of people I see on the trail are very happy/pleasant people so the good news is that there are other fish in the sea hiking partner wise.

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: Re: Re: anti-social anxiety on 06/17/2014 08:51:57 MDT Print View

I was actually thinking that average hiking distance, when going with your significant other, would be some kind of metric of how thing were going relationship-wise, if not of long term compatibility - kind of like to old saying that yo don't know someone until you try to travel with them. Not sure where 10 minutes behind is on the spectrum but guessing that out of range of sight and sound can't be that good.

Edited by millonas on 06/17/2014 13:10:39 MDT.

Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Re: Re: Re: Backpacking solo on 06/17/2014 16:40:11 MDT Print View

"So Piper, are you taking applications for a new boyfriend now?"

I'm hoping it was just the altitude talking. Otherwise I think I'm done with boyfriends.

"then spend the night in your backyard alone (or similar), then car camp somewhere by oneself..."

Oh god I'm terrified to sleep in my backyard. There are wild animals out there. Really scary ones: racoons, possums and skunks. I do NOT want to wake up with a skunk in my face!

Paul Andronico
(Jakesandwich) - M

Locale: S.F. Bay Area
Scary thread! on 06/17/2014 16:45:18 MDT Print View

I am committed to hiking the JMT next year. When I first mentioned it to my wife of 23 years, she had no interest in joining me. But several weeks later she is coming around to the idea and is seriously considering joining me. I hope she does, but this thread makes me a little nervous!! BTW, Piper, my wife and I met at UCSB back in 1989 and return to S.B. every year for vacation. Beautiful place.

Edited by Jakesandwich on 06/17/2014 16:47:22 MDT.