Why I Hike Alone
Contrary to generally accepted advice about always hitting the trail accompanied by a partner or as part of a group, I almost always day hike and backpack alone.
I often make last minute decisions about when and where to hike based on my sometimes erratic work schedule and the weather. I find it hard, weeks ahead of time, to commit to another person or group and join them on the trail. I might decide the day before or even in the morning to hit the trail for a six to eight mile day hike, and that does not give me a lot of time to find a hiking partner or others to decide whether or not to join me. When I recently embarked on what ended up being a four day and three night backpacking trip, I did not decide what day I was going to begin my trip until the day before, and only then because I had to reserve camp sites ahead of time.
Although I am not antisocial, I am an introvert, and I like my quiet and alone time. I do not want to carry on a conversation with a hiking partner or participate in a group discussion while on the trail. Hiking alone, in silence, increases my chances of encountering and spotting wildlife. Only when I suspect that bears might be in the area will I attach a bear bell to my pack or a trekking pole, but even its little jingles are less bothersome and intrusive than an ongoing conversation with someone several feet away from me.
When I hike alone, I can hike as fast or as slow as I like and need. I do not worry about a straggler falling behind or slowing down the leader, even if the straggler or leader is just one other person. Furthermore, I can pack and prepare the food I want without taking another’s tastes or dietary restrictions into account. At night, I can snore as loudly as I want without disturbing others and without their snoring disturbing me.
Don’t get me wrong. I have indeed enjoyed hiking and backpacking with others. I have enjoyed several backpacking trips with a hiking partner and a few as part of a larger group, but in the past several years, that seems to be the exception rather than the rule. Since I do often hike and backpack alone, I always let someone know where I will be going, and when cell phone service is present, I use Facebook to “check in” at the beginning and end of my trek.
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Can’t agree more! I too love the total freedom. I really like people and the trail seems to bring out the best in us. That being said, hiking solo means when I stop to hang out and talk to someone, I can focus on them and not have the distraction of a partner waiting on me. Like you, I would remind aspiring solo hikers to leave a hike plan with someone and text, call, whatever at end of day for sanity of those that love you and so there is a last reported location in case of trouble.
To say we should start a solo hiking club seems like an oxymoron. I have not read any statistics but my hunch is that most AT thru hikers hike solo. Even while we are alone we are not alone. Thanks for the reply.
Agree here also. I do enjoy my alone time. Planning a thru hike in 2018.
Thanks for the reply. I assume you are planning a solo thru hike.