I’m ready to admit I don’t like being alone

Forum Posting

A Membership is required to post in the forums. Login or become a member to post in the member forums!

Home Forums General Forums Philosophy & Technique I’m ready to admit I don’t like being alone

Viewing 25 posts - 1 through 25 (of 29 total)
  • Author
  • #3755596
    matthew k


    I was in the Sierras last week and I realized something: I don’t like being alone in the wilderness. Maybe I don’t like being alone in general.

    It’s not a fear thing. I’m comfortable by myself but the experience lacks something without a person to share it with. I had a friend that said they wanted to join me at the last minute but then decided they couldn’t take that many days off of work. I spent much of the hike in thinking about what we would have been talking about.

    I thought about my dog too. I almost brought my faithful buddy but I was concerned about mosquitos and the long drive so I decided against it.

    I started hiking and backpacking with my kid about 12 years ago. We have spent 75+ nights out together and hiked a couple thousand miles together. My kid was losing interest in hiking with me around 16 or 17 years old which was fine and even expected. Maybe we will return to hiking and backpacking together at some point but college and being a young adult is where their head is at now.

    It’s taken me a few years to get to the place to realize or admit this to myself but I don’t think I want to go out solo any more. I know what I need to do: 1) Try taking my dog into the wilderness and see how that works. 2) Take my one friend on a trip and try hard to make sure they have a good experience.

    I’d be curious to hear what others might have to say about this topic. Please share.

    MJ H
    BPL Member


    I like being alone, though I admit I fall to sleep sooner when I’m not the only one in my camp. I worry about falling down a hill or something, so I got an InReach.

    Erik G
    BPL Member


    Locale: Central Coast

    I do enjoy the occasional solo overnighter, but I’d just as soon have company.

    For anything longer, the thought of going it solo never even crosses my mind. The friends I hike with are very special friends that I pretty much only get to see on longer hikes and I cherish their company and the camaraderie that tackling challenges together brings. Sharing the “this is what it’s all about” experiences with others is truly special and I feel like trips would be missing something very significant without them. Both in the moment and in hindsight; what is more satisfying: recounting old trips/memories with random people, or people who were there with you?

    My oldest son is just about ready for his first backpacking trips and it fills my heart with joy and excitement to get out there with him. I suspect my feelings above will only be more true with kiddos instead of, or hopefully in addition to, those good friends.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. There does seem to be lot of people online, and BPL in particular, that espouse solo hiking.

    Atif K
    BPL Member


    I like both: when I want to be with the group (ideal size, four to five), I walk with them and enjoy the revelry; when I want to be solo, I’ll take a bathroom break, tell them to keep walking, and have a few hours of solitude as I follow well back but within sight. The benefit of the group is still having the option to go relatively solo. The problem with walking alone is the group option is gone.

    BPL Member


    Locale: Colorado

    Bring your dog, Matt. It’s not as hard as you think and it makes all the difference. I’ve seen in other threads that you’ve been a bit apprehensive, so if there’s anything I can do to set your mind at ease, please feel free to send me a PM. I’ve spent hundreds of nights in the wilderness with one or more dogs, I got it pretty dialed-in, and it’s a great experience. They are fantastic company, they’re always read to go when you are, and they are happy to do whatever route you choose. They are natural backpackers. :-)

    matthew k


    Yeah I think the dog is a good call. It’s worth a try at least. She’s a wonderful companion and she looks heartbroken if I leave without her.

    matthew k


    My spouse and a close friend both encouraged me to take the dog. I should have listened.

    BPL Member


    Ohhhh.. Hmmm.  I can go either way.  I do enjoy going solo because then everything is on me. Do what I want, when I want. Go whichever way I want. Stop whenever I want. Make camp wherever and whenever I want. Make a fire or don’t make a fire. Eat whenever and wherever I choose.  Go to sleep and wake up whenever I want. Pack up and hike on, or lounge around in awe as long as I want, its up to me. Take a 5 minute break or an hour “nap”,  its up to me. I don’t have to worry about anyone or anything except myself.  Maybe that’s selfish, but it is ” ME” time and I do enjoy that.  I also love when my son joins me, especially now that he is in his mid-late teens and is capable of handling himself and can set up his hammock and pack his gear, he can make a fire, he can help with map reading and locating trails and landmarks, and he is good company, very easy going and go with the flow. I also enjoy when friends come out with me be it a short or longer distance hike, it just different each time, depending the season the weather, the location. I even don’t mind bringing someone out for their first time, though that is a lot of extra work and preperation, patience and what not, and another different kind of trip. But there is always something special about going solo. Yes it gets lonely at times, there are moments when I am thinking it would be so nice to share this with someone. And then.. The reality kicks in!! If I sat around and waited for someone else to join me then its quite possible I would not be out there!!

    BPL Member


    Locale: Northern California

    Being alone on a hike can be an ordeal if you’re not in the right frame of mind. Or, if you’re a normal person subject to loneliness and a desire to communicate and share with others.

    I sometimes find that the banter and chatter of a group is exhausting when I’m hiking. I’m usually looking to go quiet and open to my surroundings when I’m ambling through a beautiful landscape, or even a burned out one. So people can be a distraction that keep me from the real reason I’m out there. I feel the same in an art museum.

    However, I usually like to camp near other people in the evening. I’m the opposite of most folks. I want conversation and company over the hours  before bed. I’ve found that if you’re friendly and not needy and demanding, people tend to welcome company as well–even couples, who like a third party to liven things up.

    BPL Member


    Matthew.. If you love being out there hiking and camping then you have to keep going. You cant give up a passion due to lack of companionship. I think its a rare breed of people that truly enjoy the outdoors, being in nature, in the mountains, walking long or short distances and even more so to sleep out there and spend a night or a few or many.. Its such a peaceful part of life if you are truly passionate about it and appreciate earth and nature. I would say bring your dog , yes!!  But even if not, do not decide you wont go out anymore if you cant find someone to join you. Maybe just go out for shorter overnight trips?

    matthew k


    All good advice. Thank you all for responding.

    – I’m not giving up, just realizing that going out alone doesn’t feel right at the moment. Tangential: It occurs to me that I don’t mind doing local dayhikes by myself.

    Being alone on a hike can be an ordeal if you’re not in the right frame of mind.

    I’ve mentioned this elsewhere on these forums (and I don’t think this is unique to me) but the last few years have been a real grind. Our political environment and the pandemic have been very tough on my students, coworkers and myself. I am definitely not in a “normal” frame of mind and that may be part of this. My work is intensely social and it’s very jarring to be totally alone at 10,000’. I sure did sleep well though.

    Or, if you’re a normal person subject to loneliness and a desire to communicate and share with others.

    it me.



    Bob Shuff
    BPL Member


    Locale: SoCal

    My son and best camping buddy will be a junior this year at college and it’s been hard to get out during his breaks. I had hoped for a Sierra or at least LA mtn trip this summer, but time is slipping away fast due to family vacation, his summer job and Covid – argh!

    Those of you that have good hiking buddies are lucky. I joined an overnight with a group from our Church and was humbled by being out of shape and couldn’t keep the pace they wanted. No one wants to slow others down. I’ve always thought I would do more on my own, but my wife is not a fan. Hence I get out less.   I still want to give it a try starting with a sub-24 hour overnight. It’s easier for me in the desert, so that will have to wait until it cools off this fall/winter.

    I’m still looking for opportunities and some groups to hike with, and plan to have my legs in better shape for it.

    Paul Wagner
    BPL Member


    Locale: Wine Country

    I prefer to hike with my wife, or one or two other folks, but I’m OK on my own, too.  When I am on my own, I hike farther and faster. And I am not sure that is a good thing, for many reasons.

    BPL Member


    Locale: Virgo Supercluster

    I can go either way; it depends on my mood.  Sometimes the solitude is what I need and what restores me, and sometimes it’s companionship that does the exact same thing…but what I don’t like is not having the option to choose which experience I will be having.

    Jeff McWilliams
    BPL Member


    Locale: Midwest

    I’m doing the southern half of the JMT from Florence Lake to Whitney starting August 6th.  I’ve been doing small groups trips as well as trips with just my wife for like, 14+ years.    Given the challenging nature of that particular trail, we had a very small list of people we had invited on this trip but none could make it, so it was going to be just my wife and I.

    Well, she fell off a treadmill at the gym on Friday and completely tore her rotator cuff, so she’s no longer going, and will be getting repair surgery asap.  It was decided that I should still go and knock this one out.  The decision was based on multiple factors:  penalties involved in canceling my airline tickets, not getting any younger and having a long list of other trips scheduled for subsequent summers, etc.

    However, I’m not a big fan of solitude while hiking either.  I’ve done a few solo overnights as well, but I enjoy having people to talk to at the end of the day.  I’m hoping I can socialize with others on the trail, being that it’s so popular.  We’ve done VVR NOBO in 2017 and MTR NOBO in 2019 as small group trips, so I feel like this year it’s going to be a mental challenge for me as much as it being a physical challenge.

    Right now I’m scrambling to make some last minute gear & food adjustments, but I gotta admit I’m a bit apprehensive about it.

    matthew k


    It’s funny you mention the JMT. I was thinking about it last night and I’d probably be comfortable with hiking the JMT alone because I know there would be plenty of opportunities to chat with someone while hiking or at the top of a pass or camp. Perhaps that’s a reasonable strategy for someone like me that doesn’t want to be too alone when a friend doesn’t want to join me.

    W I S N E R !
    BPL Member


    Matthew, as a fellow HS teacher of 22 years now, I can relate to what I’m hearing here. I generally gravitate to being pretty solitary outside of work as 180 students per day can quickly become emotionally overwhelming, both in good and bad ways. Solo trips have always been a standard for me; I’d wager over 75% of my time out overnight is spent alone.

    The last few years have been different though, as you mention. Things have felt much heavier, the highs have been higher, the lows have been lower. So many kids have really been hurting…or not at all…and I carry these extremes with me. Workplace morale has been terrible. I think all of these things have had an effect on how I relate to the outdoors. I still need very large doses of quiet and solitude after work, but they can  usually be fulfilled by a walk and sitting somewhere for a few hours. Days are tricky…they can be way too much or not enough.

    Like you, extended solo trips were not as appealing during the height of the COVID years. I still got out a lot, but found my trips shorter and fewer in general. I backed out of quite a few as well; landing in camp, setting up, and then hiking out in the dark to be home; hiking alone all day gave me my fill, spending the night out seemed pointless.

    I wouldn’t necessarily write off solos altogether, I suspect your relationship with them will go through cycles. I’ve begun to come around again, primarily during the last school year which was relatively “normal” compared to the prior two. It feels like I’m hitting my stride again…though I’m apprehensive about many issues in my workplace/education that are likely coming this August…I guess we’ll see what sort of madness ensues and how I emotionally handle it soon enough.

    As someone that has struggled with depression for as long as I can remember, backpacking can have a profound soothing or amplifying effect. It’s often not in-between for me, and I have to carefully judge if being alone for a few days is really what I need. Sometimes I make the wrong call, but on the whole, I’ve come to know myself well enough to make an educated guess and enjoy myself. The last few years certainly confused this process as I was dealing with far more residual emotional baggage from my students and workplace. Again, hoping that settles some this coming year, but we’re tasked with helping people and I expect the crazy times are here to stay for a while…

    I would just let it be, let it go where it needs to go with no judgement; you don’t have to do anything.

    And feel free to reach out if you’re looking for a partner in the SW/Sierra.

    matthew k


    Hey. Thanks, Craig. That is a very validating message. I really appreciate all of that.

    DWR D
    BPL Member


    For me, solo backpacking is a walking meditation. I enjoy that very much.

    I like group hikes, but always miss that meditative immersion in nature that you just can’t achieve with groups.

    BPL Member


    I am not a religious person and my God is probably much different from yours or anyone else’s.. but I love that quote and I think it so well said. And imagine the person who is not afraid, not lonely and not unhappy.. the euphoria and adrenaline pumping through the body.. being in nature! That is what it does. If Im backpacking up and over mountains, a beautiful night or stormy night, sleeping outside, kayaking thru some rapids down the river, swimming in THAT river, swimming in a lake.. just being out there.. alone, with family, with friends, with strangers, it usually always works out and does what it does best for me.

    “I would just let it be, let it go where it needs to go with no judgement; you don’t have to do anything” .. WISNER

    Words to live by there.. thats a keeper @ Wisner!!

    Monte Masterson
    BPL Member


    Locale: Changes Often

    I don’t mind being alone when I’m hiking throughout the day, but it’s after I’ve stopped to set up camp and I’m just sitting around that the loneliness sets in. Then I start to think about all the stupid blunders I’ve made throughout my life and how I’ve blown every relationship I’ve ever had. I only have myself to blame for putting myself in a situation to where I’m alone and without any children or a long-term partner.

    But the grass has always been greener on the other side. I guess ultralight thru hiking mirrors what my life has been in general to where traveling light and being a perpetual nomad means I’m used to constantly packing up quickly and MOVING ON. However a rolling stone gathers no moss, yet some people get bored easily staying in the same place or being with the same mate for very long. But that all comes with a price…. you end up alone and without much to show for your life’s efforts except for a lot of good stories.

    I’m not much of a country music fan, however Lynn Anderson does the best job with the Hank Snow classic that’s been covered by many top artists and is even featured in a current TV commercial for DHL

    YouTube video

    Andrew Marshall


    Locale: Tahoe basin by way of the southern Appalachians

    Great topic MK. Seems like most people enjoy a combination of the two, and I’m in the same boat. I especially enjoy finding a hiking partner that I can journey with year after year, building up experiences and trust like a patina on our friendship. I try to use solo hikes as an occasion to push myself physically and mentally. If I have an ambitious goal for my solo excursions, it usually saves me the depression flair-ups or missing of my family that have cropped up more later in my life.

    Jon Fong
    BPL Member


    Locale: FLAT CAT GEAR

    Interesting read.  I have never hiked solo so Idon’t know what it is like.

    David Hartley
    BPL Member


    Locale: Western NY

    Lots of good stuff on this thread.

    Like several others, I like both solo and hiking with a others. But they are almost two different activities.

    I find that I appreciate being in nature more when I have someone to share it with. Great views are better when shared. On the other hand – when hiking with others it seems like it is harder to push the physical side of hiking – easier to give up on more ambitious objectives. Sort of the opposite of summit fever. More like camp fever. And there is no doubt, time in camp is more rewarding with someone to talk to and share camp chores.

    On the other hand, solo hiking is more of a meditative experience – especially if pushing higher miles and more challenging hiking. The rigor of it, combined with the solitude, forces your brain into living in the moment – you are not worrying about next weeks problems – instead being consumed by one foot in front of the other and the immediate concerns of your body, weather, food, and shelter. However, camp can be lonely.

    One of my favorite hiking memories was an almost mystical hike through the West Canada Lakes wilderness section of the Northville Placid Trail in late September in a light misty rain and not seeing another person for two days.

    But almost as good was enjoying the amazing views on Section J of the PCT in Washington while hiking with my brother.

    I enjoy both experiences.

    matthew k


    Interesting. I think I have more trouble with the moving part. I don’t mind being alone in camp but I enjoy the walk less.

    I’m fine dayhiking alone although it is a treat to have someone join me.

Viewing 25 posts - 1 through 25 (of 29 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.
Forum Posting

A Membership is required to post in the forums. Login or become a member to post in the member forums!