Things That Inevitably Happen When Hiking Solo

I should start this out by admitting that this particular “adventurous solo woman” habit of mine is highly disliked by all of my friends and family. It is ALWAYS safer to hike with a buddy. But I live for a quiet trail with my trekking poles as my only companions. It is one of my very favorite things to do, especially when I need to reground myself.

I find certain thought processes and experiences coming up practically every time I’m out on a trail by myself. Here are a couple of them:

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Before you head out on your hike, you will be once again reminded by friends and/or family that hiking alone is a bad idea and asked to text them where you are going and text when you are back and to be careful please.  (Which you will do ’cause being safe is cool)

If you are lucky enough to have the trail to yourself, you will find your mind alternating between the following two polar-opposite feelings:

“Ahhhhhh, this is the best! All this peace! All this quiet and solitude! Yay! I never want to hike with other people again or in populated areas… this is the life. Look how pretty it is over there! And over there! I couldn’t ask for anything better.”


“Wow, there really isn’t anyone else on this hike. Why is no one else on this hike? What do they all know that I don’t? What if I get hurt? Or lost? What if I get attacked by a bear? Who will hear my cries for help? What was that sound?? WHAT AM I DOING?!?”

If you don’t have the trail to yourself, you will wish you did.

You will be hyper aware of trail etiquette and people not following it. (Up-hill hikers have right of way, saying hello or at least smiling at passing hikers is expected, etc.)

You will think about which people you pass would be most likely to help you if you fell.

You will judge other hikers on their gear or clothes and if they are “real” adventurers.


– – – – – – – –

You will think about the fact that a dog would not be a bad idea to have for a hike.

You will wonder if somewhere offers “dogs for the day” Like super well trained and good with new people dogs who like hiking, not too barky or aggressive or anything awkward. You think this might be a totally solid business plan and something that should be considered. By someone. Probably not you.

You will feel bad about how much your solo hiking habit worries your loved ones, even though you are super safe and careful and smart about it.

– – – – – – – –

You will become randomly competitive with other hikers and push yourself to pass and stay ahead of them, if only for the satisfaction of an open trail in front of you.

You will realize that you are super quiet hiker when you constantly startle other hikers who didn’t hear you coming.

If you are in a very isolated hike with increased animal danger you will consider the possibility of being attacked. You may, at this particular point in time, chose to sing out loud for a bit. Because better to look silly to other humans than startle a cougar or something and get eaten.

You will realize that your go-to hiking songs of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and “I Will Walk 500 Miles” aren’t the most profound choices. You will think about mixing it up.


– – – – – – – –

You will contemplate your life. You will wonder about things you are doing or not doing or maybe should want to do. You will run scenarios and options and ideas through.

Your mind will wander.

You will figure your whole life out.

You will immediately forget about your whole new life plan when you see a beautiful vista.

– – – – – – – –

You will think about how cool it is that you have a body capable of taking you up hills and over streams and through the woods. You will, in that moment, totally appreciate the living machine you inhabit and all it does for you.

You will think about what you want to eat for dinner.

You will eat all three of the string cheese’s you brought along because hiking is hard work and you earned it. And because you don’t have to share.

You will be tempted to turn around at some point when the air gets too thin or the switchbacks become too steep or your legs reach peak-tiredness because no one else is keeping track of you. You can do whatever you want. You will probably go on though.

You will have at least one moment when you stop to catch your breath, snap a picture or adjust your pack and you will be overwhelmed by the awesome quiet in the wilderness. This quiet will transition into the sounds of your surroundings as you focus away from yourself and hear the birds and bugs and wind through the trees.

And for a moment, you will just be.


– – – – – – – –

You will be reminded of how terrible at taking selfies you are but do it anyway to show off your hiking prowess and the vista.

You will therefore have way too many close up photos on your phone, face dominated by sunglasses and shaded by a hat with a smidgen of a blurry nature visible.

You will think about blogs posts you should write and plan them out as you walk along.

You will forget half the clever things you thought to put in a blog post about hiking solo.

You will probably already be planning your next hike before you get back to your car.

You will text your friends and family when you are done so they don’t think you are dead.

You will feel an overwhelming sense of accomplishment and satisfaction at being a capable solo lady in the wilderness.


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