Author's Solo Hiking Experiences


Over the years, I have done a lot of solo hiking. Most of my solo trips have been day hiking during the summer or early fall on popular trails. Much of this was done when hiking companions were not available spur of the moment on a nice weather day. I am also motivated by the peace and quiet without others around. (Most of my hiking partners like to talk a lot in the backcountry.) In short, I just enjoy taking jaunts that are a totally different experience than my hiking with others.

Some of my solo hiking has involved off-trail scrambling. Many short overnight have been taken in the mountains (but no extended solo backpacking trips). During the winter, I have done a significant amount of solo crosscountry skiing and snowshoeing, usually on roads or established trails. My solo hiking has decreased considerably since being retired because I have found other retirees with similar flexibility and interests. When doing solo day hikes, I am conservative in my decision-making. I always carry overnight survival and emergency gear (the ten essentials, plus). I generally restrict my solo hiking to regularly traveled and well-maintained trails. In the past, I have generally avoided the temptation of solo multi-day trips because of the potential time lag between encountering a serious problem and my expected time of return. When solo, both a cell phone and personal locator beacon (PLB) are carried for emergencies. I use the cell phone mostly to let loved ones know of any change in plans before I get into the backcountry where cell phones seldom work. With the PLB (a gift from a concerned family member), I plan on taking longer solo trips (not what the family member expected).

I enjoy doing things by myself. Many of my regular life activities are done solo: writing for this website, exercising, hiking, sailing, reading, and daily chores. Even when I am around people, they are not usually interested in what I am involved in and I generally choose not to get involved in what they are doing. I do not crave social contact; I am not into socializing for its own sake. However, many of my life activities do involve interaction with others on an intimate basis: being in a committed marriage relationship, being with friends and family, teaching, doing volunteer work, sailing, hiking, etc. I am not a loner. I enjoy these interactions. I desire balance in this area and often achieve it.

What about the potential dangers involved in solo hiking? I have not had any close calls while solo hiking. My worst experiences were two moderately sprained ankles (I hobbled back to the trailheads) and a mild allergic reaction from multiple bee stings. I now carry injectable medication to counter allergic reactions. Once I got temporarily lost while wandering solo around in the fog for an hour (with my compass) until I was able to make sense of the landmarks. My assessment of my own solo hiking is that it has been low risk and not particularly dangerous. However, for an objective, in-depth analysis of this specific issue, click on the article titled, “How dangerous is solo hiking, really?” Furthermore, I follow most of the strategies suggested in the article on this website titled, “Strategies to Make Solo Hiking Safer.”