Guest post by: Ryan Taylor
My first solo hiking trip wasn’t planned to be solo. It was a last-minute decision when I was ditched by a friend who happened to be my co-hiker for many years.
Honestly, today I am more than thankful that he ditched me because if not, I probably never would have experienced something as divine and heavenly as solo hiking.
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For the most part, my solo hiking trips have always been about reclaiming my mind and soul. It’s about slowing down life’s pace and finding solitude in nature. I love to smell the aroma that nature has to offer and hear the revitalizing sound of animals and birds. For me, it’s an experience that’s as much divine as much as it is physical.
But, is hiking alone all divine?
Well, honestly solo hiking isn’t all self-indulgent and finding peace in solitude, nothing exists solely for those reasons. That’s because as humans we tend to feel more comfortable in groups and as soon as we step out of our group we feel vulnerable to the unknown.
But the best way to respond back to feeling vulnerable is to be prepared. And that’s what we will be discussing about in this post because when properly prepared, there’s no better way to reinventing yourself than solo hiking.
Important things to remember for Solo Hiking:
Now, before you took up the challenge of a solo hike for the first time, make sure you are adequately resourced to not only survive through the trail but actually enjoy the trip.
If you are planning to jump on your first solo hiking trip, here are some tips that will help you get well-resourced and enjoy every moment the best that nature has to offer.
6 tips for your First Solo Hiking Trip:
1. Know your limits
Knowing your limits is important, damn important. I mean, there’s a difference between being adventurous and being foolish. Your body can only do so much, and you don’t really need to overburden your body by going to extremes from the very beginning.
The takeaway, well, it’s definitely all about choosing the right trail for the first hike. When you are going alone with no one to rely on, you may need to test out your physical and mental fitness. Don’t get overwhelmed by the adrenaline gushing pumping through your veins after reading all I have written above.
Remember, your safety should be your primary concern. When you plan your first solo hiking trip make sure you choose a beginners’ trail just to check out your strength (there’s always time to go for more extreme trails in the future, why hurry?)
2. Choose a well-traveled hiking Trail
Choose a more popular, well-traveled trail for your first solo trip, like any National Park in the summer, or an iconic hike near you. Don’t put yourself under unnecessary mental or physical stress by choosing a trail totally out in the middle of the wilderness.
It’s all about training your senses including navigational memory. As you hike, consider all the what-if’s and how you would react – what if you fall? What if you see a bear? What if you run out of water? Make sure you’re mentally prepared for any hiking incidents.
3. Pack all the hiking essentials
Ask me the one thing I loved most about solo hiking and I would say “Going hiking on your own!”
Now ask me the one thing that I dreaded most about solo hiking and I would say “Going hiking on your own!”
Yes, there are so many reasons to enjoy solitude but there’s also lots of things to worry about.
In fact, sometimes the worst things happen when you start to put your guard down and start to feel comfortable. The point is, don’t get so excited about the trip that you forget to pack all the essentials. Remember, you will be all on your own and need to rely on yourself here. Be prepared get all the essential gear items for day hiking and stock them at least a week prior; just to be sure you have everything.
4. Trust your instincts
This might take you some time to get used to but believe me, our internal system works incredibly, and you’ll feel it once you start to trust it.
Remember, if you get some weird sensation, check it out! There might actually be something wrong around you. When you feel a little uncomfortable moving forward; perhaps you should take break, possible even turnaround and move backward. The point is, you need to learn to trust your guts and keep your guard up all the time, no matter what.
5. Can you survive a night in the outdoors?
While it’s easy to pass through the daytime hiking and experiencing nature, nights are a different experience, especially if you aren’t ready. Personally, I like reading at night time and always have my Kindle with me, which I enjoy reading on those lonely nights right below the starry skies, alone in the wilderness.
Think about something you like, something that can help you make the most of the possibly long nights in the wilderness. And most of all, make sure you have all the backpacking gear you need to keep yourself safe and warm if you’ll be out overnight.
6. Don’t forget to capture those precious memories
I know many people who think cameras present a distraction from nature and make them remember the world they have left behind to find refuge in nature.
However, personally, I think you can enjoy wandering in the loneliness, while simultaneously capturing those precious memories to cherish for years to come. Just don’t fall in the trap of taking too many pictures and you will be perfectly fine with nothing to be ashamed of.
So, there you have it, some of the most important tips you should consider before hiking into the wilderness all alone. Remember, the more time you invest preparing for the trail the better experience you can have during the trip. Thereby, don’t shy away from planning and make sure you are well prepared and ready to enjoy the solitude without any worries.
Ryan from passionateoutdoor.com
An outdoor enthusiast and content manager at Passionate Outdoor, I am from Toowoomba, Australia and aside from being a passionate outdoorsman, I am a production manager in an ad agency in Brisbane.
For more tips on solo hiking, check out:
- Conquer self-doubt while hiking alone
- The worst hiking advice I’ve ever heard
- Hiking the Appalachian Trail alone
- What to include in your hiking itinerary