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.
- 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?