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Topic: Solo Hiking, Does the "reward" out weight the "risks"< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 14 2013, 5:21 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

So I find myself currently 24 years old. In good health and good shape with a bit to much free and extra money laying around.  I no stranger to traveling by myself.  Been all over the country and experience a lot of cool things.  But I have a new quest.

Goal:  To go hiking on longer trails that involved two or three days by myself.

YES, I know the biggest rule is to NEVER go hiking by yourself.

I am no stranger to the outdoors.  Grew up hunting and spending many hours of my childhood exploring woods.  Most of my hiking experience is just day hikes.  Less than 10 miles.

I have just recently bought new gear and now capable of doing my above goal.  ie. (lightweight tent, bag, pad, blah, blah)

I have for the most part set my mind on doing this and plan on going hiking soon down in Southern Utah first.  I have common sense and I know some of the dangerous and how fast and easy something can go wrong. I know I may sound native and foolish.  But I want to gain experience and take the next step in my hiking experiences.  


Sooo

My question to you all is simple.  Is it worth the risk in your personal view?



p.s. Biggest reason of doing this is fear.  I take my fears head on and refuses to compromise my dreams.  And yes not sure if I want to use the web to find a hiking "buddy".


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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 14 2013, 5:47 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Yes. Leave an itinerary with someone you trust, don't do anything  unnecessarily stupid, and enjoy the solitude.

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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 14 2013, 6:01 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(tbaLocation @ Mar. 14 2013, 2:21 pm)
QUOTE
YES, I know the biggest rule is to NEVER go hiking by yourself.

Not directed at you, but making general statements.  We are each given a brain to exercise proper judgment.  Take 'brain dead' mantras like the one above with hefty grains of salt. What applies to a child may no longer apply to an experienced adult.

Much depends on your experience level, where, and when you are hiking.  There are so many variables and so many ways to manage risks.  And not just in the backcountry either.


QUOTE
Is it worth the risk in your personal view?

Subjective, but I would frame the question differently. Whatever the venture, have I sufficiently thought through to manage the potential risks at hand?  If so, then off I go.  The same set of circumstances will present vastly different risks to different people.  And compounding that, we all have different risk / comfort thresholds.


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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 14 2013, 6:13 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I hike off-trail for days on end solo. Our friend Gobluehiker has gone out for nearly a month solo in some of the most intense terrain off-trail in Alaska solo. If you have the skills, wisdom, guts, and gusto...go for it. You can probably answer that question better than us.

I know that I have to question myself everytime and weigh the risks. Sometimes I go. Other times, I've waited till I had a partner.


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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 14 2013, 6:25 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(tbaLocation @ Mar. 14 2013, 2:21 pm)
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...YES, I know the biggest rule is to NEVER go hiking by yourself...

See this is your first post on the forum, welcome.  After being here awhile, you will note there are many of us that often hike alone and some like this person that have done so for decades.   It is not that most of us are anti-social but rather due to our complex schedules, commitments, and m-f 8-5 adult working lives, it is often difficult to be able to link up at the same time as others who have common interests plus compatible personalities and still get in as much time in nature as some of us want to.

That is NOT a rule for experienced enthusiasts but rather those new and unfamiliar with the outdoors or experienced hikers that are taking on what at their level of understanding are dangerous challenges where having another person along will lessen such.  There are in fact a great many easy trivial destinations, especially where one is certain to have other groups around where one is not really alone.  

Start small, get experience and confidence, then move onto greater challenges.


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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 14 2013, 6:49 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Use good sense.  Enjoy it. :)

Ans as Dave and others pointed out, that's notsomuch a hardfast rule.  People do it all the time.  I've done it for years.


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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 14 2013, 7:02 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Tigger @ Mar. 14 2013, 4:13 pm)
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I know that I have to question myself everytime and weigh the risks. Sometimes I go. Other times, I've waited till I had a partner.

This.  Every decision is weighed more carefully when you're solo.  Trust your gut, and remember that there's no shame in turning back if something doesn't feel right.  I've "turned back" from my intended routes on plenty of long solo trips due to dangers either real or perceived, and haven't regretted it once.  Nice thing is, when you decide to bail out, you don't have to justify it to anyone but yourself. :)

Again, use good sense, have a good time.

My $.02 anyway, worth every penny you paid for it.

- Mike


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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 14 2013, 7:08 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(GoBlueHiker @ Mar. 14 2013, 4:02 pm)
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Every decision is weighed more carefully when you're solo.

Much have been said about the added risks of hiking solo and there are truths to that.  Less said is the tendency of many to be more focused, more observant and more aware of their surroundings when hiking solo.  Hard to be all that when yakking along in a group...


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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 14 2013, 7:53 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

So much wisdom and great advice.  I appreciate it very much.  It seems I always hear the negative.  Nice to hear a few positive things!

Thanks ya!


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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 14 2013, 7:54 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

QUOTE
YES, I know the biggest rule is to NEVER go hiking by yourself.


CORRECTION: That is neither a rule, nor is it anywhere near the top of the list of the precautions that need to be taken. No land manager that I am aware of prohibits solo hiking. Wilderness rangers do it. Many others do it.

I've almost exclusively solo backpacked for over 40 years — in every season. My longest venture was 2 1/2 months. For weeks at a time I saw no one at all.  I've been hiking solo for well over 50 years. Probably the majority of that time in the last 25 years has been spent off trail in wilderness areas . "Go in groups" is good advice, and it's a good guideline. It is not a rule.

Much depends on you as to how important that advice is. If you don't know what you are doing, and don't know how to learn on your own, it's much more important that you learn with other hikers. If you do know what you are doing, you decide. If you don't believe you are capable, perhaps you aren't.

If I fall off a big cliff by myself, I'll be just as dead as if someone is along to tell where my body is located. Having someone along with me might shorten the search-and-rescue, or recovery of my body. But it won't do much to keep me safe.

I find groups distracting. Sometimes that distraction actually lessens my safety rather than enhances it. Over the years I've taken some big risks. It goes with the territory. I've also stopped short of many goals when I just didn't like the looks of the risks I was taking. But I had to take the responsibility. I had to learn the risks from many angles. And taking that challenge on was quite rewarding.

There is much to learn from going solo. And there is probably much to learn from going in groups. Neither is necessarily better or more rewarding. And neither is inherently more risky if you know what you are doing. Much depends on you.


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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 14 2013, 8:10 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Solo isn't a big deal.... when you're experienced. You've said you're new at backpacking so you might be pushing it at this point. I'd suggest an easy/easier trail in maybe a more traveled area plus what others have said about an itinerary.

Having said that, I almost exclusively solo in remote places and off-trail, even in winter and sub-freezing,  but take it to an extreme. I'll never recommend anyone else do this but I don't tell anyone where I'm going or when I'll be back. It is dangerous but not as much as many believe if one is cautious when taking the risk.


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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 14 2013, 8:22 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

It was worth it when I was younger and it was just myself - single.  Once I settled down with my husband, and even more now that I have a one-year-old son - no, it's not worth the risk.  Plus after a couple of days by myself I can get a little bored.  I usually like having at least one good friend along to share the journey and adventure with.

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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 14 2013, 11:34 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

As others have said, the biggest rule is telling someone where you're going and when you'll be back.

The risk of getting hurt is not any higher solo than with a group, you just have to realize that if you get hurt, there is no one handy to go get help.

SO DON'T DO ANYTHING STUPID AND GET HURT!
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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 14 2013, 11:43 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Wait... we're supposed to hike with other people?   ???


Be careful, be safe, have fun.  :)
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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 14 2013, 11:57 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

In some cases, hiking with another person can (often) be more dangerous than hiking solo depending on your skill level. When I train "newbies" there is a certain trade-off of safety and risk associated although it won't stop me from helping others get into it. Having to keep track of others if they ignore certain safety measures can cause risk to a more skilled hiker (and themselves).

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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 15 2013, 12:04 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

If you don't hike solo you miss out on something really special. Especially after several days without seeing anybody. You'll start really enjoying your own company and it will be a bit of a let down when you do run into others.

As far as safety goes, I'm more safety conscious by myself - I've done more dumb things to get hurt when I was with others.

But start slow. Do some short overnighters. Then build the trips as you build confidence & experience.
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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 15 2013, 12:16 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

There is truth in what Tarol says, if you are young and relatively free of responsibility enjoy it and the freedom there. It did slow down the risks we were willing to take once we had family waiting for us to come home, on everything, less likely to go spontaneously or to pick up hitch-hikers or drive too fast. Funny but now is our first year with the kids out of high school and I feel myself relaxing and more willing to take risks again

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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 15 2013, 12:19 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

My last backpacking trip with a partner was 1999. After agreeing to stick together and not make a race out of the trip in, he managed to get a half-mile ahead of me and didn't want to stop for water, breaks, or anything.

This was grizzly country. And if he or I got in trouble with one of the bears, neither of us would be close enough to the other to be much help.

I've seen the same method among others who supposedly hike in "groups." So I'm not so sure there is a fine line between "group" and "solo." My hiking partner and I were somewhat solo and somewhat group. We separated to hike but regrouped to camp.

A similar question of "group hiking" came up in this thread about mountain lions. A family of four might seem to satisfy the advice to hike in groups. But when the two kids are running ahead hundreds of yards, they are hardly safer in mountain lion country than if they were solo.

From the mountain lion's perspective the kids were about as good as solo. They were pretty much easy pickings from the cat's view. So just because hikers meet at a trailhead and start out together does not mean they are fully grouped during the trip. There's hardly a fine line between group and solo. Good to know how to solo when you find yourself in such a group.


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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 15 2013, 12:26 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Plenty of good advice/opinions there.
Most of my hiking is solo. Find advantages are, see more, concentrate on surroundings more, can stop/camp when and where I feel like it, satisfaction of going it alone.
One thing not mentioned. You say you have some extra cash - on the chance of maybe going 'belly up' somewhere when alone, you could consider buying or hiring an 'emergency locator beacon' of some sort if taking on remote locations. (Something I'm guilty of not doing, but as my teeth get longer I'm starting to think about it!)   :;):

.


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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 15 2013, 12:27 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I've routinely solo hiked all of my adult life. The one consequence of not having accompaniment is in the event of an immobilizing injury, blown knee or some such, you are stuck. That has two consequences, First you just stay there and even in good weather that becomes a big threat to you. Second when you finally are missed the responders that come searching for you in their dozens and hundreds put themselves at risk.

My solution to reduce exposing people to the sort of country I really prefer as much as possible in their search is to carry a PLB. Then while I'm out by myself an immobilizing injury doesn't result in a huge search over tough terrain, just a rescue pickup. Less risk for everybody. Not a universal answer but its mine. I've seen the crowds who head out when some one is lost and I'd prefer they not have to do that for me.

Anyway two or three days out on some reasonably popular trails, and the popular ones are going to have the nice stuff to see, should be fine. As others say start out cautious and expand as you gain experience, both in yourself and with the terrain. Different terrain will offer different challenges and risks.

One example of a PLB:
http://m.rei.com/mt....-beacon

The system it works through:
http://cospas-sarsat.org/
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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 15 2013, 12:59 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Depends where you are hiking too.  Scenic areas tend to attract others, while unpopular areas are more isolated.  Solo is a bigger deal risk-wise but it can be managed.

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(tbaLocation @ Mar. 14 2013, 5:21 pm)
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YES, I know the biggest rule is to NEVER go hiking by yourself.

And I thought the biggest rule was to go with a minimum party size of three: one person to get hurt and die, one to stay with the body, and one to hike out and go get the sheriff.

Seriously, just go and have fun. You'll figure out soon enough if you're physically and mentally prepared, and if you have the right gear. Just let someone else know where you think you're going.


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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 15 2013, 1:06 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I'm planning at least 7 days solo starting next weekend. Like many others here, I do it all the time, and do it preferentially, even.

The big rule is to never climb glaciated mountains by yourself. I've violated that one a few times, and I'm not suggesting I'm the smartest guy for doing it. But I'm still here, because I had experience, knowledge, and more/less decent judgment on my side. Note, not impeccable judgment.

I have an adventurous friend who has done many a solo first-descent canyon. I've accompanied her on several non-solo first descents. I don't think I'm prepared to go as far as soloing first descent canyons, but she is still here because of proper utilization of her skills and knowledge.


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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 15 2013, 7:59 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

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I've seen the same method among others who supposedly hike in "groups." So I'm not so sure there is a fine line between "group" and "solo." My hiking partner and I were somewhat solo and somewhat group. We separated to hike but regrouped to camp.


That's how I prefer to do it when with a group. "Hike your own hike". Having to slow down is irksome and trying to speed up will tire you out. Agree as to where the next camp will be and meet up there.


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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 15 2013, 8:32 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I've hiked solo a bunch. I am an oddball tho in that I much prefer the company of my hubbie and really don't enjoy solo....I only did it during the years our schedules didn't match.
If you enjoy doing stuff alone, then go for it and have fun!


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(tbaLocation @ Mar. 14 2013, 5:21 pm)
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YES, I know the biggest rule is to NEVER go hiking by yourself.

The biggest rule would be not to go prepared. I would much rather be solo and prepared than with other people all of whom are unprepared.

There are dozens of stories on this forum from seasoned BPers running across a party that was lost, was still thinking they could summit a peak as night was approaching, who ran out of food or water, etc. A few months ago I ran across a family dayhiking a short stretch of the AT and had gotten turned around on a cross-trail, no water or compass or map and the sun was going down, I got them back to safety.

Solo hiking is only more dangerous after you get into trouble. Hike smart, stay within your skill and comfort level, and go out fully prepared.


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(Montanalonewolf @ Mar. 15 2013, 4:59 am)
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QUOTE
I've seen the same method among others who supposedly hike in "groups." So I'm not so sure there is a fine line between "group" and "solo." My hiking partner and I were somewhat solo and somewhat group. We separated to hike but regrouped to camp.


That's how I prefer to do it when with a group. "Hike your own hike". Having to slow down is irksome and trying to speed up will tire you out. Agree as to where the next camp will be and meet up there.


That is true on-trail. Off-trail in a group, is a different animal. Breaking up the group can be a hazard to others in the group in that situation depending on the group dynamics. A while back, we had a newly formed group - seven people, hiking off-trail and one guy would purposefully lag behind or hike off to the side out of line of sight and hearing. Several times during the hike, we had to stop and send out our scouting team to find him and bring him back so we didn't get separated. Once, he had swerved off "the path" so far, it took us nearly an hour to track him before we caught up to him. He was heading 30 degrees in the wrong direction. It wasn't a point of annoyance. He was a danger to the group. He had no idea where camp was, no clue how to get there yet he was simply wandering through the woods with no compass, GPS, or map. He has not been invited to come back on a trip since.


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Hell is other people.

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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 15 2013, 11:37 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Some of the worst mistakes I've made while hiking were made because I was with a group.

Just refine your skills and you'll be fine going solo.  Self reliance is a good thing.
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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 15 2013, 11:46 am Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

Just like many of these fine folks, I hike solo all the time. Now, what I would not advise is to go solo on your first trip. Try to find someone who really knows how to do it right, learn the skills, and THEN go off by your lonesome.
Some of us had the Boy Scouts, but not everyone.


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Now shall I walk or shall I ride?
Ride, said pleasure,
Walk, Joy replied,
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