Jun 26, 2012 at 9:09 am #1291405
mik matraBPL Member
@mikmikLocale: Brisbane AUSTRALIA
I can't find how to do a poll on this forum site to get a clear indication but was wondering how many people out there do solo expeditions. And how many nights do you spend out on your own.
I have only been camping (always off track) with a couple mates and the idea intrigues me but am not sure how I'd go spending the night on the side of a mountain by myself….and I guess more importantly what if I get into some kind of trouble like getting bitten by a snake (I love in Australia).
Mik.Jun 26, 2012 at 10:09 am #1890247
Greg MihalikBPL Member
Each year I do two or three trips of 10 to 12 nights each, somewhere in the Winds, the Sierras, Colorado's San Juan's, or the canyons of Arizona and Utah.Jun 26, 2012 at 11:24 am #1890269
James MarcoBPL Member
@jamesdmarcoLocale: Finger Lakes
I do three or four week long trips solo. This is mostly in the ADK's of NY. At least two of these is canoeing and fairly risky; wind, weather can change rapidly. The others are longer hikes, often without support, for up to two weeks. About 40-60 nights per year, I guess. Several other trips with pertners, but these are not counted, nor, is car camping with the family. (My daughters have their own family's, of course.) The wife is still working off her quota of years, I am free of such chores, though we manage a couple weeks each year out camping together. Her knees are bad, though…arthritis. She doesn't care for long distance hikes anymore.Jun 26, 2012 at 12:11 pm #1890278
Nick GatelBPL Member
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
Have you ever gotten into trouble or bitten by a snake when hiking with your friends?
Would this change if you hiked alone?
As long as you develop the skills and wilderness knowledge, you can handle most situations.
Hiking solo is "potentially" riskier, but the enjoyment for me is far greater than any additional risk. I pretty much hiked alone for 40 or so years. It has just been in the past 3 years that I have done a few trips with other BPL members.Jun 26, 2012 at 12:25 pm #1890286
Steven HanlonBPL Member
@asciibaronLocale: Mid Atlantic
i can only manage 2-3 days once a month and at this point in my "career" i am mainly going solo. i stay in the WV/VA/MD/PA area – anything within 4 hours of home is fair game.
down under if you can be safe without getting mauled/bit/infected or otherwise endangered with others, i think you'll be fine going solo.Jun 26, 2012 at 12:40 pm #1890292
Ole SaetherBPL Member
I often do 1-2 day solo trips. There are no dangerous animals where I hike but I always carry a Spot satellite messenger with me. With it I can send "I'm OK" messages to my wife and kids.Jun 26, 2012 at 1:02 pm #1890299
Scott BentzBPL Member
@scottbentzLocale: Southern California
I mainly hike with friends because we plan trips together. Sometimes that doesn't work. Last year I hiked in to meet a friend that was at his favorite fishing spot. It was middle September so it was real quiet in the Sierras. For some reason he started a day later than originally planned and since I was going to surprise him I hand't told him I was coming.
I got on the trail late and after hiking at night for awhile I met a fellow BPL'er and spent the night at his camp. He was also out by himself. The next day my friend and his brother show up on their horses where we had spent the night. When he saw me he said "Scott, you can't hike solo in the Sierras". Pretty funny because the other guy I was with was also gong solo. I do think most people think it is dangerous to hike solo.
I have learned from observing others that it is now quite normal to solo hike. On the JMT you run into solo hikers all the time. I don't think my family loves it but they know I have to do it. It's also hard to find partners that may hike the same distances, etc. due to hiking and packing styles.
I don't do it a lot but I do enjoy the solitude when I do.Jun 26, 2012 at 1:35 pm #1890306
Ole SaetherBPL Member
If you haven't done it already I highly recommend reading the article (and the others in the series) Hiking Through Hyperbole: The Vortex of Fear by Ryan Linn: http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/hiking_through_hyperbole_part1_vortex_of_fear.html
They are the most well written trip reports I have ever read.Jun 26, 2012 at 2:27 pm #1890317
Link .BPL Member
@annapurnaJun 26, 2012 at 2:51 pm #1890320
Paul WagnerBPL Member
@balzaccomLocale: Wine Country
I did those when I was younger. But now I am delighted to say that my wife loves backpacking as much as I do…so we always go together!Jun 26, 2012 at 4:03 pm #1890340
Todd TBPL Member
@texasbbLocale: Pacific Northwest
What I like about hiking alone:
Solitude: time to think, ponder, pray
Quiet: feeling closer to nature, seeing more wildlife
Freedom: to go my own speed, go as long as I want, stop when I want, take a side trip if I want, stay an extra night if I want, etc.
Physical challenge: pushing myself without having to push someone else or hold them back
Mental challenge: going it alone, it's all on me–route finding, maintaining pace, staying motivated, being safe, not getting lost, etc.
Nobody to laugh: when I read the map wrong, take a wrong turn, miss a switchback, take 10 throws for my bear line, etc.
I like hiking with others, too.Jun 26, 2012 at 7:14 pm #1890400
@sparkyLocale: Southern California
90% of my trips are solo trips. For the last 5 years or so especially I go alone.
My first one I was curious as to weather I would trip out a little (my buddy flaked)….but that was just pre flight jitters. Once I started out on trail, I never thought about it again for 5 days.
Most of my trips are 5 or 6 days. I seriously don't worry about any thing. Thats one of the things that attracts me to the solo hike is I don't think or worry about anything except getting from point A to point B. The absolute liberation of having zero responsibility is a feeling you cannot describe, you have to experience it.
Everyone has different goals when it comes to backpacking. I prefer simply doing what I want when I want. No clocks, no language, no social anything, no expectations, no attachments.
When I am alone, and walking in rhythm with my breathing, I enter into trance. I like that.
Solo and off trail in the Sierra…..thats how I prefer it.Jun 26, 2012 at 7:58 pm #1890421
Dean F.BPL Member
@acrosomeLocale: Back in the Front Range
Almost all of my shorter trips are solo- by which I mean all of the weekenders or long weekenders that I manage to catch. The reason is that I am a physician whose practice includes inpatients and I cannot predict when I'll have a weekend come along during which I either won't have inpatients or only have non-complex ones that I feel comfortable handing off to my on-call partner for the weekend. (Or, for that matter, I might be on-call myself.) So I never have much of a warning when I'll have a weekend free- usually Friday rolls around and I realize that I have no inpatients and I could hit the back country if I wanted to.
This makes it kind of hard to coordinate hiking partners.
On the other hand when I plan a longer hike- like my recent Grand Canyon trip- I always try to find a parter. th longest solo I've done is 4 days, but I'll probably break that record this August.Jun 26, 2012 at 8:32 pm #1890433
K CBPL Member
@kalebcLocale: South West
I always plan trips with one or more College friends, but if they back out I stick to my plans and go Solo, and find myself having a great time, packing SUL, taking lots of pictures and covering good distances. Recently I did Zion narrows solo (20mi) and Florence Lake to Evolution Lake and back (50mi). I really like the solitude.Jun 26, 2012 at 9:01 pm #1890439
Kimberly WersalBPL Member
@kwersalLocale: Western Colorado
I just got back from a 3 days solo. I usually only go for 2-3 days alone, though wouldn't mind going for longer. I prefer it if my husband wants to go, but and also happy alone. I enjoy being self-sufficient and don't have any problem entertaining myself. I do find that I am a little more cautious (no mountain climbing off-trail) since I don't carry a cell phone or GPS, so I am on my own. I am also less likely to go really isolated places when I am hiking alone.Jun 27, 2012 at 1:38 am #1890480
@jamesmcLocale: Near Bass Strait
I do, but mostly on trails. And am in Australia.
I prefer company but often that just doesn't work out.Jun 27, 2012 at 8:19 am #1890528
Stephen BarberBPL Member
More often solo than not. Most of these are short trips, and usually mid-week, so coordinating with someone else with a regular work schedule is difficult. It's just so much easier to pick up and go on my own.Jun 28, 2012 at 6:19 am #1890754
Jennifer MitolBPL Member
@jenmitolLocale: In my dreams....
I want very much to be able to hike solo…I usually go with my dog (80-pounder) and he certainly makes me feel safer. But here in the midwest most of my weekend and long-weekend trips are in places that are pretty accessible by riff-raff in pickup trucks…and unfortunately I've had enough run-ins with that riff-raff to make me just anxious enough. Every time I think I've gotten up the courage to try it (usually on a trail I know well), something happens to creep me out a bit. What is most frustrating to me is that I know I'd be fine, that many of the trails I frequent are fairly well-travelled and that if something happened I could easily get help. I guess I'm more worried about the whole creepy-man-with-an-axe thing, or those noises we all hear at night…you KNOW it's the wind, or a raccoon, but you can't control that racing mind at night….
Anyway, one day I'll do it…because I think CharlieDog and I would have a great time and I would love to experience all those things that everyone says they love about solo hiking. But if I could only get over some of those silly anxieties I'd be a happy camper. Literally…Jun 28, 2012 at 7:35 am #1890774
Robb WattsBPL Member
@rwattsLocale: Western PA
then count me in. I usually get one 4 day trip a year with just me and Levi (my dog). Great way to relax, no compromises necessary. Go where you want when you want (Levi doesn't care)or just hang out and read all day long (Levi's favorite).
Never had a problem but the coyotes seem bolder when there's just 1 person.
Last fall, I was lounging by the fire after dark with Levi laying near by. A single coyote started howling off to our left and Levi sat up and gave a series of huffs (low level alerts). When the second coyote started howling off to our right, Levi moved in close to me and quit making any noises at all. When the 3rd coyote started howling behind us, Levi leaned into me and started shivering.
Some watch dog.Jun 28, 2012 at 8:02 am #1890782
Randy NelsonBPL Member
I usually go solo but like others, also bring one of my dogs. I've only gone truly by myself for 2 trips to RMNP where dogs aren't allowed in the backcountry. One of the biggest reasons I have only gone there twice. For me, nothing beats having a dog along to share your adventures.
I do like going with friends (went last weekend with a bud) but its so much simpler to go solo. No planning and coordination required. Just grab your gear and go.Jun 28, 2012 at 9:13 am #1890801
@flriderLocale: The Southeast
I get out between eight and twelve weekends a year, with one longer (~3 to 5 day) trip, usually during the summer.
About six to ten of those trips are by myself. Better than half of my camping, though, is done by bike via road. Which means that I'm not really "solo"; I'm just not traveling with anyone.
Usually, my longer trip is solo, as well, and that's usually somewhere where I'm unlikely to actually run into anyone on the trail. For example, last August, I did the Florida Trail through Ocala National Forest. That's a well-traveled trail…during the winter and early spring. In August? No, I didn't see a single person on the trail proper in three days out there.
And, besides, I'm kinda an ornery guy. A lot of the time, getting out into the back country is my way of decompressing, and I do that best alone. The rest of the time, well, it's simpler to only juggle one schedule; I work odd hours and days.Jun 28, 2012 at 9:27 am #1890806
@troutLocale: Long Beach
mostly solo for me Mik. I had the same concerns when I started doing it. My advice is to do it in stages. Do a single out and back trip, then do an overnight trek, then you can get into multi-day. For me I started out worried and a bit anxious, but now I'm about to do 24 days solo and it doesn't bother me. Have fun and be safe. I'd say one thing is to take less risks when solo, log crossing and your trekking pole is in your pack and you don't feel like getting it out? Tough, stop, get it, and cross safely. That kind of thing.
Like another poster commented, it takes the compromise out of your trip in a lot of ways. Want to stop for a long lunch? Do it. Want to go fast and power through a few hours to get somewhere early? Nothing's stopping you. Feel like farting up a storm followed by laughing out loud at high volume? Now it's in the cards. =)Jun 28, 2012 at 10:33 am #1890826
Dale WambaughBPL Member
@dwambaughLocale: Pacific Northwest
I go solo most of the time. My kids are grown and my wife has a bad knee. I do enjoy the solitude and taking things at my own pace. I'm a slow poke and like to stop, have a sip, take in the view, catch my breath, check out the flora, take a photo and so on. Hiking with others always seems so goal-oriented and hurried.
I see little danger in hiking trails: I don't do anything technical and I am always well equipped. I'm sure I am in more danger driving to the trailhead or walking a city street than I am on the trail. All siad and done, all I'm doing is going for a walk!Jun 28, 2012 at 11:01 am #1890838
Eric BlumensaadtBPL Member
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
I agree with Ole, that a PLB like a SPOT is what hikers should take on solo trips.
It's mainly for the peace of mind of loved ones but it can save your a$$ when you REALLY need it. Big "widow-maker" limbs DO fall from trees, lightning DOES strike far from storms, rivers and creeks DO flood unexpectedly, etc.
There is always Murphy's Law (and O'Toole's Corollary-> "Murphy was an optimist.")Jun 28, 2012 at 12:37 pm #1890875
Mary DBPL Member
@hikinggrannyLocale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
All my trips are solo except when I take out the grandkids. First, I'm retired (hooray!) so hike on weekdays, staying home on weekends when the trails are crowded. It's hard to find companions on weekdays. Second, my hiking pace has slowed with age to where it's a real scramble for me to keep up with most people. I have to push myself beyond the pace I feel comfortable with and am therefore more prone to accidents. I'm far safer setting my own pace. Third, I have come to enjoy being out by myself (with my dog, of course).
I also have many years of experience to draw on, so it's not as though I am taking big risks by going alone. I am well aware that if I have an accident at my age, it's likely to be the end of my hiking/backpacking career, so I behave accordingly. I do take a PLB with me, but that's more to keep friends and family off my back (call it psychological weight saving).
IMHO, driving home after the trip is undoubtedly the riskiest part of any backpacking trip. You're tired and want to get home, as is everyone else on the road!
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