Escaping to the mountains is by far one of my favorite things to do. I have a lifestyle that allows me to up and go practically anytime I want, but for others that’s not always conducive. Sometimes I make decisions last minute.
Fortunately for me, I sometimes prefer embarking on my hiking adventures alone.
Melakwa lake was my recent destination of choice for a solo hike, an alpine lake nestled comfortably at the end of a 4.25 mi climb, and at 4600ft. On the way up my mind was being used to tell my lungs to inflate and deflate, but on the way down my mind filled with thoughts of why I enjoy solo hiking.
There are many reasons why I hike solo, and there are also a handful of ways “how” I hike solo. While I know it may not be for everyone, it’s something I’d encourage if the thought has every crossed your mind. My only advice is to be prepared.
Here are a few of my how and why’s.
How(H) and Why(W) I Solo Hike
- H: I always eat a large balanced breakfast. Always.
- W: I love being on my own schedule, moving at my own pace, and venturing off on any (well marked) path I want.
- H: I always read up on whatever trail I’m interested in before I go. Things like trail reports/conditions, distance, path information, things to expect and so on. This helps reduce any unknown surprises.
- W: I work a job that requires a lot of talking, sometimes it’s nice to not talk. Aside from the greetings I provide fellow hikers. I crave alone time.
- H: I tend to go on Sunday’s, a day I know there will be other hikers. I also go to hikes I presume will be populated enough that I’m not completely alone, but alone enough to have long stretches without seeing others.
- W: Being alone means I don’t have to shower before I go, despite all the onions I ate the day before seeping out of my pores. I can also let any air trapped in my stomach escape. Beans, beans, the magical fruit.
- H: I ALWAYS let someone know where I am going, and when to expect me home. By someone I mean my mom.
- W: There is something immensely freeing about being alone on a mountain. Not like being alone in sketchy woods, that’s different. Being alone with nature (and enough fellow hikers that I feel safe from boogie men) gives me so much peace and I feel more alive in these moments than any other.
- H: I always carry the essentials. Food, water, a knife, mace, a whistle/light, a poncho, nun-chucks, matches, sunscreen, my phone, beef jerky for Sasquatch. The knife I carry could use an upgrade though, if anyone wants to send one my way I’ll happily accept.
- W: Independence, mental clarity, accomplishments, learning new things about myself, inner strength, inner peace, inner love–I’m a crunchy granola.
- H: My head is constantly swiveling, and I don’t get too lost in my thoughts. It’s easy to get distracted by all the beauty, but being aware of my surroundings keeps me safe. Falling branches are my nemesis.
- W: I am my best when I feel strong and confident. I’m also my best when no one hears how heavy I’m breathing while climbing hills in 90+ degrees.
- H: I always go early, ensuring that I have plenty of daylight should I somehow get off track. I also try to never get off track.
- W: Solo hiking allows me to practice my terrible selfie skillz.
- H: I listen to the cricket in my head. Pinocchio taught me not to listen to talking foxes, but also to let my conscious be my guide. The voice in your head and the feeling in your gut–listen to it.
- W: I can use the wilderness bathroom anytime. I can actually do this when I’m not solo too, but it’s a tad bit easier when I’m alone.
I think that’ll do for now, but if you’re still not convinced solo hiking is for you I’ll leave you with this: No one will see you take the shoes you find mid trail.
Just kidding, those weren’t my size.
Q: Do you/have you/would you solo hike? If yes, what are your tips and tricks?
65 thoughts on “Solo Hiking – Why and How I Do it”
As always – beautiful pictures!
Amy @ A Desert Girl
Great tips! This all makes perfect sense. I bet your mom and loved ones are relieved that you are so safe with your love of solo hiking.
My dad hates it. HA, he’s always encouraging me to go with others.
gorgeous pictures!!! I dont hike, living in the city/suburbs there really isnt anywhere close to do that. seeing what you have around you though I totally get why you do!
Great blog as usual! I love to walk alone but am a bit of a chicken when it comes to hiking alone. Hiked in your area last weekend… In for a wedding in Seattle… Hiked High point loop trail ???up past Bellevue… and others… So pretty. I get why you love it!
So glad you were able to explore the area!
Love the photos, who wouldn’t want to be there. If I wasn’t so bad at finding my way and reading maps, I might go solo, but also love walking with a club and having knowledgeable leaders!.
Amazing photos! I’d love to hike to all those places!
All I do solo is go on dog walks. Oh wait, that’s not right – I take my dog on those… 😉
Nice pics! I never carry nunchucks or mace- pointless weight for the former, illegal to own here in the UK for the latter. Always tell someone where I’m going and an eta, breakfast is anything from a full English (sausages, bacon, eggs, tomatoes, toast, etc) through porridge or muesli to a breakfast bar depending on how hungry I feel.
Whatever I eat the constant is that I “camel up” with as much water, tea or coffee as I can drink before setting out. Then I just carry a 1 litre water bottle. That normally works for me but I do have a water filter in case I need to fill up from a stream or lake. I also carry a pocket knife, poncho, whistle, small torch, spare insulating layer, wind proof smock, small first aid kit and some food. I’ve not died yet so I guess I’m doing it right!
I don’t actually carry nun-chucks, that was a joke, but a small torch is a great idea.
I guessed it might be! I tried playing with nunchucks once-just about knocked myself out. Never again😵
Torch is very useful. I always carry a Cyberlite key ring torch. Very bright; good enough to walk down a trail at night. Batteries last for about 12 hrs. As a bonus the light clips onto my bug net zipper in my tent and acts as an overhead light.
Heather @ HeatherRunsFast.com
I haven’t been on a solo hike. If/when I do, I’ll be referencing your blog, fo sho! I love your pictures. Your creativity and eye is amazing 🙂
more coffee, less talky
did i read that right – nunchucks? i had to google to make sure that we were talking about the same thing LOL.
i’m too scared to hike alone; but i probably would if there were mountains instead of creepy woods.
I was totally joking about the nunchucks. BAHAa. I tried using some once, it wasn’t pretty.
I haven’t done any solo hikes and that’s because I don’t trust myself not to get lost LOL
I’m afraid that when I make my way to your “hood” (read: continent), you will not go for a solo hike for once, but you will need to take me me and me with you! 🙂
Hahaha! If only it was just beans that make me, ehm ehm, break a wind. Running with a new running partner/ group and trying not to fart along the way is a skill I’m practising VERY regularly! Oh how I love the solo runs when I let myself fart away… :))
I’m always impressed by how often you hike solo — and just hike in general! You find gorgeous trails and lots of natural beauty. It makes me crave the mountains, even though they’re generally chillier than I’d like! 😉 And… I totally laughed about relieving gas in your stomach. That’s the reason I run and exercise alone too. Crazy but true! But if you ever come down this way, we’ll go up to my parents’ cabin and hike all the best trails!
I’ve just put it on my list (in my head!) of stuff to do this week! You make it look and sound great. Now all that’s left to do is to find somewhere new to explore. Thanks for the great advice 🙂
I love your hike trails and I’m afraid to say that living on the edge of the Lake District in the UK, I have access to loads of trails and scenery not unlike your pics – but I don’t make the effort to enjoy them, oops! *looks sheepish* – Although a holiday in Scotland beckons this month and we plan to hike on the Isle of Skye! *guilt skilfully deflected* 🙂
Scotland!? Oh my, how jealous am I.
Lindsay @ A Runnaroundd Life
Love love love. I’m so into having my own alone time, especially now that I’m in a relationship and still crave that silence every once in awhile to think my own thoughts. I need to make it out to the west coast for some exploring!
Oh good lord you crack me up – you were bummed those shoes didn’t fit you, right?? So awesome, Britt!!!
If I wasn’t so clumsy I would LOVE to solo hike, sounds perfect! Gorgeous photos and you nailed that 80’s prom pose 🙂 xo
Boise Runner (@RunInBoise)
I would have taken the shoes so I could drop them at the thrift store. The hike looks wonderful!
What a great idea.
Gorgeous pictures. I get the same sort of empowerment from yoga. I find it so calming and peaceful and yet revitalizing at the same time. I’m so glad you do this.
Nicole @ Foodie Loves Fitness
I am so with you, I thoroughly enjoy solo hiking as well! I think it’s a great time to clear my head and center myself. I always go with my dog, who definitely makes me feel protected, and I also keep a taser in my backyard in case I need it 🙂
There is something so freeing about doing something alone. I usually don’t tell anyone where I will be running (they can follow me on Strava 😉 I think I like the feeling of only being accountable to myself. Going rogue I something I’ve always wanted to do.
This was a great post!!
I love solo hiking too for many of the reasons you do. I must admit I wouldn’t mind carrying some mace but it’s illegal here. Great post! 🙂
An Unrefined Vegan
You are one lucky chick. Solo hiking is wonderful. Wish I got to do it (and hiking w/ my man & beast, too) more often.
Your photos are beautiful! How great it must be to live nearby such a place. I also love to go out on solo adventures, whether it’s hiking, running, biking, kayaking. It brings me peace. Really enjoy your blog, Brittany! Keep it up!
Those photos are gorgeous. Going out alone in nature is always so nice. It’s like hitting reset on your emotions or something.
GiGi Eats Celebrities
Why you do it = because people suck and no one is as top-notch as you…. How you do it = you put one of your sexy gams in front of the other… And just keep em going.
Rach @ This Italian Family
You are awesome! I love this post! Since I have Oreo, he usually comes with me when I go walk the trails (and I say “walk” because they aren’t really intense) here. And since I have Christopher, if I’m somewhere where there’s a trail to be hiked – he’s there too. So I’ve never done a solo hike before. But I love hearing your whys and hows! 🙂
Enjoyed reading these tips, as well as the WHY you solo hike. It’s so so smart that you go when you know the trails will be populated by other people, as well. Hehe about the flip flops 😛
Dannii @ Hungry Healthy Happy
Stunning pictures, as always. This pretty much summed up many of the reasons why I love travelling by myself in general. But the not showing after all the onions is a good one haha
di @ life of di.
I love solo hiking. I did it all the time when I was pregnant and I still love to hike with Charlotte (semi-solo for now) 😀 I only wish I had better trails to hike in Columbus. BOO
If I wasn’t such a chicken I’d lace up ny boots and hit the trails right this very second. However, I don’t think we have trails like that in our area and certainly none where you’d be in the safe knowledge of others hiking at the same time. Until I live in such a place I will keep marveling at the beauty of your pictures.
Change of Pace
I love this…every single point you made!
I rarely go alone since hubby loves it so much, but I occasionally take just Jasper and Harold or just Harold.
The trails I take are almost always killer quiet, which can be creepy at times. But it’s awesome for bathroom breaks 🙂
loooool. You’re so funny! I’ve never thought to bring “mace” on my solo hikes because any time I’ve ever done one I never met anybody. The hills of Connemara (which is close to where I live) can be quite devoid of people and there’s none of these fancy man-made trails so you have to navigate your own route and hopefully not make an error and end up accidentally walking off a cliff in the mist!
🙂 🙂 🙂
I think it would be beyond awesome to go on a duo hiking adventure with you!!!
your pictures give me life. I get jealous seeing them because houston doesn’t have anything like that at all. hoping one day I can go to the places you’ve been because they’re so breathtaking!
Your comments always make me smile
Hiking a beautiful land, alone or with company, is such a wonderful release for the claustrophobic soul. Your pictures are lovely! I feel as if I’m breathing some fresh air through them.
pictures are incredible as always, and you are the cutest as always. i love love love reading your blog and living vicariously through your hiking adventures, as i never hike and i really want to. i need that to change. such good reasons for hiking alone, and i love that you carry all those safety precautions and have such confidence and strength. you’re amazing.
Lucie Elizabeth (@CollectingLight)
Those pictures of the mountains always manage to take my breath away – every. single. time. I cant imagine how peaceful it is up there for you….so so beautiful!
Tania // Run to Radiance
Girl you are TOO COOL. I just got back from Asheville and my husband and I did a ton of hiking. I was CONVINCED I was going to get eaten by a bear! You are so brave to go on your own, but I would love to give it a try if Texas had any places that looked like that! ❤
Lauren @ ihadabiglunch
Your photos though! I’m not going to lie the thought of you hiking alone terrifies me a bit just because I live in a city so I’ve been taught to watch my back — but you definitely are a pro. That’s so funny how different we all are — I rarely if ever crave “me time.” I hate being alone unless I’m in bed, eating snacks and watching Netflix 🙂
your head band is awesome, the photos are awesome, and i’m thinking you should pen some sort of travel guide for hiking the area. i keep thinking i wanna go out there and that i would need your tips/advice on what to do, but probably many more people than me would be interested 🙂 you make hiking look like some kind of must-do tripadvisor vacation 🙂
loved everything about this post. The thoughts/ philosophy behind it all… and such amazing pictures! Just… wow! 🙂
Nice, practical tips. Your pics (and that location) are absolutely gorge. I wanna go! – Kat
You know how I love solo hikes/camping. Your tips all ring true, especially the one about letting someone know where you’re going and when. There’s a 300 acre wooded park in my town that I like to hike at and even when I go there, I let someone know.
Beautiful photos, Britt. Solo hike selfies are the coolest.
Glad to hear you are being safe. I hike with my dog. It is like hiking solo but with added protection. Even though she could be a bear bait… Knife is a good idea! Thanks for the tip.
Luv What You Do
Gorgeous photos!!! I wish I had better hiking by me!
Subject 2 Change
Many of the same reasons that I like to travel alone!
scricfinia – Finnish Way of Hiking
Thanks for a like, and I gladly like this post of yours! Hiking, solo, or with friends, or with my family, well, it’s by far my most important and beloved hobby. And more. Have to say from Finland point of view that I did not recognize two out of your eleven essentials. 🙂 (And Sasquath was not one of those two…)
Thanks for stopping by! 😝
We were separated at birth. All except the bringing tools thing and the telling people where I’m going thing.
When I’m alone out there, it’s like I’m blessed or gifted or something. I always have just enough water, just enough light, and just enough energy to get back safe. The magic of it is hard to explain and rarely believed. Screw ’em, I was there.
Nature is perfection when you line up with it, it cradles you.
You get it, few others do!
Yeah, I used to get frustrated with people over this, now I just pity them and go on petting bees.
Edit: That line should read “Nature is perfection. When you line up with it, it cradles you.”
Love everything about this! There is definitely something so freeing and spiritual about solo hiking. One question: do you really bring nun chucks?!
I SHOULD bring nun chucks. Great idea. 😂