Oct 12, 2010 at 12:36 pm #1264315
Companion forum thread to:Oct 12, 2010 at 1:31 pm #1653870
@saparisorLocale: Pacific Northwest
Great trip report!
I grew up in Fort Smith and spent some time (though not enough) around Devil's Den State Park and Lake Fort Smith. The last time I was in the south, I purchased books on the Ouachita and Ozark Highlands National Trails. It's in the back on my mind to do those someday.
Also, it is nice to hear another's thoughts on fear, both rational and irrational, in the backcountry. Last weekend, I did a dayhike on the west side of Mt. Adams. I never saw another hiker and definitely felt my senses were heightened, but the time I felt the most fear was after a detour left me with a long forest road walk back to the car. I must have looked over my shoulder every minute.
Regardless, it is a good reminder that the wilderness can really be the best place to . . . think.Oct 12, 2010 at 6:44 pm #1653956
i prefer to hike alone, there are times when im afraid, like when i see two boars infront of me on the trial or nearly step off a ledge, other than that, i consider it safer then driving down the road-and im not afraid then. I enjoy the solitude as long as i can and im willing to accept a few fearful moments here and there to get it. Thanks for the report, great job. And it is true, i dont care how fast you are, high mileage days cut out relaxation time.Oct 12, 2010 at 8:06 pm #1653989
@snowguyLocale: Boulder Colorado
I consider my solo multiday trips to be much more fulfilling and meaningful than my hikes with others. I do like to share the outdoors with friends at times but to really get away from "life as usual" solitude is necessary. Wilderness is to me the perfect place to find the space and absence of human distraction so necessary for the pursuit of lonliness. When all of the distractions are gone I am more aware of the fears and aloneness that are hidden in my day to day life. Perhaps they are always there and if so solitude is a good way to learn and grow from them. I tell people that to really understand the transcendent spirt of Thoreau and Muir one should follow them on solitary journeys into the wilderness of the world and the mind.Oct 12, 2010 at 8:07 pm #1653990
Very good report. Well done.
I chuckled at the "steering-wheel wave," because I do it all the time when I go to my family's cabin!
I'm sure many of us know how you feel having to cut your trip short. I know I do. Had to bail halfway through the Superstition Mountains due to my fiancee's wrecked knees. We were both very disappointed, but with the help of some trail angels, we made it back safely.Oct 12, 2010 at 8:52 pm #1654011
@vistamanLocale: SW Missouri
Lucas, A very descriptive & entertaining article. A co-worker ,his sons, & myself are starting a section hike of the OHT this very weekend at Lake Fort Smith state park. We plan to hike the entire trail through the remaining fall, winter, & spring. The timing of your article is uncanny. Thank you so much.Oct 13, 2010 at 4:23 am #1654065
Lucas, great report and all the feelings and thoughts of us who solo. Could you post your gear list (major items)? Thanks!!Oct 13, 2010 at 6:58 am #1654087
@newtonLocale: Southeastern Louisiana
Your article was a very frank, insightful and open sharing of experiences and concerns. I thoroughly enjoyed and identified with many portions of your trip report. The pictures have a very surreal beauty about them.
Trail Angels are real not imagined.
Two years ago "Lazarus" and I were assisted by some trail angels in the guise of college age day hikers. We were dehydrated and they shared their water with us. They were traveling in the opposite direction on the same trail. We thanked them for their kindness and continued down the trail. Lazarus was in the lead and remarked that he was on spider web duty with his hiking staff. I called a halt to the hiking and asked Lazarus, "How can you be knocking down spider webs when those day hikers just came from the same direction that we are walking?"
Once again I applaud your article and its content.
NewtonOct 13, 2010 at 8:36 am #1654109
why is this a menbers only trip report?Oct 13, 2010 at 8:42 am #1654111
Become a Member, support the website and the effort put into generating these reports, and see what all the fuss is about!Oct 13, 2010 at 8:45 am #1654115
Thanks for the kind words. There is a very different dynamic to hiking alone. Much more different than operating alone in day to day life with so many outside sources of stimulus(radio, internet, tv, etc.) providing distraction from your own thoughts.
Steven, I had a similar experience at Mt St. Helens several years ago. I wasn't even alone, but my wife and i were exploring the lava tubes on the backside of the park and found it rather spooky. It was late in the day near dusk and just felt rather cold out there.
Allen, my list is in my forum profile w/ a few post trip comments.
John, you captured the sentiment of trail angel magic perfectly.Oct 13, 2010 at 9:37 am #1654128
@creachenLocale: East Bay
Great trip report Lucas!! I can relate to your story from when I first started backpacking. I have not hiked solo since I joined this community of passionate hikers…Thank goodness!Oct 13, 2010 at 2:54 pm #1654259
@taedawoodLocale: Louisiana, USA
I too am starting a four to five day section hike on the OHT starting this weekend. Thanks for the wonderful trip report and reflections on fear and loneliness.
Question for those who do much more soloing than I do….do you bring a book to read? I am contemplating doing so but am wondering if this will enhance or detract from my solo experience.
In the past, especially if I hike with boy scouts, I do take along some reading for sanity sake. Also, when I have solo hiked in the past, I have taken my dog with me for company but this time it will be a true solo hike. Feedback welcome!Oct 13, 2010 at 3:01 pm #1654262
@creachenLocale: East Bay
Gerry, Take a journal–great way to pass the time or bring a paperback–I usually bring a IPOD w/ a small speaker to pass the time…Oct 13, 2010 at 4:44 pm #1654303
@leighbLocale: Northeast Texas Pineywoods
It has me itching to hit the trail for my first Arkansas backpacking trip at the end of the month! I've canoe camped on the Buffalo a number of times, but last fall was my first hiking trip. I got lucky and timed it dead on with the peak of fall foliage in the upper Buffalo area. After that I knew I'd be back for more hikes. Thanks again for sharing, it was a delightful read.
LeighOct 13, 2010 at 6:11 pm #1654321
@elmvineLocale: Central Texas
I too really enjoyed reading your report. Thank you for sharing it.
I have not done much solo overnight hiking. But I got that spooky feeling–what am I *doing* out here?–on a New Mexico trip when I took my younger son, then 14, and his 13-year-old friend. Pecos Wilderness in August, "monsoon season." All the horse parties passed us going down. All the other hikers didn't even try. Steady rain all the way up to Pecos Baldy Lake. On other trips to that area, we've always seen other groups. This time, no one at all up there. It hit me during the night, here I am up here miles from anyone with 2 children to care for…yes the boys were old enough to be competent, and they were, but that's how it felt. We completed our 4-day circuit in the rain, ate wild strawberries, saw more kinds of mushrooms than I've seen anywhere.
My older son through-hiked the John Muir Trail solo at age 17 in 1998. He said it was beautiful country, and a good adventure, but that he will *never* do a long hike solo again. For him, it was just too lonely, he said.
Thinking about your injuries. It sounds like you paced yourself for some pretty high mileages, but perhaps that is your normal pace. Still, I found myself wondering if pushing yourself like that, even with a light pack, contributed to the problems. I understand that for many folks going fast is part of the fun, but it seems like it might work better to give our urban selves a break, go more leisurely, be more "on vacation." I do hope you experienced a speedy recovery when you got home.
We have done a little bit of hiking in the Buffalo National River area; it really is beautiful, rough country. We are hoping to hike one of the long trails up there when we get more time.Oct 14, 2010 at 7:10 am #1654465
Ditto on the paperback & journal. Some nights sleep comes before reading time, especially if I journal and look at my maps, guidebook, etc., but those nights when you need a little unwind time, a book is great. Plus, a good thought provoking book gives you something to chew on while you hike. Journaling is much easier solo. I always get distracted when I'm with others and usually just read at bedtime.
Get out there now Leigh. In the next couple of weeks the Ozarks are going to be blazing w/ color. If you miss it don't fret. Leaf-off is a great opportunity to see the numerous valleys and hogbacks that make up the Ozarks.
Mina, I was up at Pecos Baldy this summer. We tried to go over the saddle to the northwest of the lake and found the trail turned into a goat path on very loose talus. My wife was uncomfortable on the loose rock and asked that we go the other way. We turned back and went around the other way towards trail rider's wall. Nice place.
I was careful to pace myself pretty lightly the first few days, but pushed it too many miles on the days w/ the steep descents and multiple creek crossings. I run marathons when I'm not backpacking, so I'm pretty comfortable with an aggressive pace. Unfortunately, I just pushed it too hard. That's the bad thing about short trips that you can't make up mileage on the back half as easily when you have weeks to build up your pace. I was back out running within a couple weeks of returning home. I agree that one needs to find a balance in leisure and pacing. For me, seeing more trail was a priority over relaxing. My wife and I did a section hike a few weeks after that we took much easier and did a lot of lying around on. So, I get both worlds, despite my anxious tendencies.Oct 16, 2010 at 1:06 pm #1655160
@amrowincLocale: Southern California
Thanks Lucas for sharing your adventure. You really brought back memories for me. I thru hiked the trail (plus the extra 15 miles to get to a ride at Hwy. 65) in Apr/May this year. By that time it was full leaf on. Fortunately I hiked it with 2 others but I can relate to your loneliness/isolation. It is a trail than can intensify those issues. We encountered only one backpacker in out 18 days on the trail.
I suffered from a swollen leg–not real painful but an annoyance. Loosing the trail, bushwhacking, bloody scratched legs, rain etc. seem to be part of a common experience on the OHT. In spite of it all I'll always be grateful for having done it. DonOct 17, 2010 at 1:47 am #1655272
In my twenties (75' thru 85') I'd go it alone in the Canadian Rockies, British Columbia, and Washington State for weeks at a time. Strangely, I never felt lonely. On a 6 week Banff to Jasper trip I went one stretch for two weeks without seeing a human soul. I remember a deep sense of serenity during that time, true peace. I'd feel like I was the only person on another planet. When I finaly did meet someone though did I talk their heads off!
The fewer the people the more special the chance meeting.Oct 17, 2010 at 3:56 pm #1655402
@tomclarkLocale: East Coast
Thanks for sharing your story. It was different from most posted here…more personal, less gear driven. Someone once said, "When you start your hike, you worry about the animals. Once you approach the end, you worry about the people."
TomOct 23, 2010 at 8:56 am #1657284
@elmvineLocale: Central Texas
Lucas, I haven't been up Trailriders Wall, although I mean to go that way sometime. Have only been to the top of the saddle in that direction, where there's a rocky outcrop in the middle, good for bighorn watching!
The way up to Pecos Baldy Mt. doesn't really (unless you are a bighorn) go straight up the rocky steep slope to the saddle. If you continue on the Skyline Trail around the opposite side of the lake, the trail switches back about 3 or 4 times up the forested slope (to your left as you face the saddle from the lake) and comes out on the saddle. That is the route we've usually taken. It dips down again into the Rio Perrito drainage; then you have a choice of either going on down Jacks Creek (Dockwiler Trail) or else crossing Panchuela Creek and climbing up and over into the Horsethief Creek drainage. That's the route we took the time with the 2 kids and all the rain and mushrooms.Oct 27, 2010 at 3:58 pm #1658660
Thanks Tom. Confidence should reside in our minds, not our backpacks. But, a good pocketknife never hurts….;)
Mina, on the other side of Trailrider's, I came within 50 yds of a bighorn who I would have missed had it not been for the erratic behavior of my dog. He scoffed in our general direction and walked on. Some nice hiking that direction.
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