Hiking as a Solo Female
When I first started dreaming of the PCT three years ago, I wouldn’t have believed you if you told me I’d be starting alone. Sure, I had some backpacking under my belt, but solo backpacking was an unfamiliar and scary idea back then.
Flash forward to 2021. I moved to the PNW and didn’t know anyone but had a lengthy list of trails I wanted to hike. Alas, I took to solo backpacking.
It wasn’t easy at first; my brain spiraled about every sound outside my tent at night, and I found dinners to be quite lonely. However, solo backpacking has quickly become one of my favorite activities and my preferred way to backpack.
I love being able to hike as slow or fast as I want, pick out my own campsite, and swim in whatever lakes I choose. Oh, and don’t forget the silence. Ah, sweet sweet silence and solitude. (Can you tell I’m an introvert?)
This past summer, I decided to hike the Timberline Trail. The Timberline Trail is a 45-mile loop around the base of Mount Hood. I was going alone and made it my goal to hike the loop in two days.
I had only hiked 16 miles in one day prior to that trip and had no idea if my body could even handle hiking 22 miles in a day.
That trip ended up being one of the most empowering experiences of my life. I completed the entire trail in just under 30 hours, crossing glacial rivers, hiking through massive blowdowns, and completing my first 23-mile day.
All on my own.
It was after that trip that I felt that maybe I really could hike the PCT, even if I didn’t have anyone to go with.
Don’t get me wrong. I definitely tried to convince several friends to go with me, but deep down, I was relieved when no one was up for the 2,650-mile journey.
I would be starting alone.
Sometimes that still feels daunting, but I know that I will not be alone for long. As much as I am looking forward to moments of solitude on trail, I am really looking forward to meeting other hikers and having those shared experiences. I truly believe that is part of what makes thru hiking so special.
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