Ever thought about going on a solo-hike but questioned whether it would be fun or just lonely? It's no secret that going on a long hike alone can be dangerous. Your at greater risk of injury and there's always the remote possibility of a backwoods mugging. Even regardless of the added risks, what fun is it to go out into the wilderness alone, without a partner to describe the latest Game of Thrones to you down to every last spoken word, or have them remind of the reasons you really should try kale over, over, and then over once more. Okay maybe that is a reason to go on a solo-hike and a good place to start.
Reason #1: Get lost within your own thoughts
It might seem counter intuitive that the same reason solo-hiking seems like a bore is one of the main reasons many hikers really enjoy it, but its true. Going on a hike without a partner leaves you alone with only your thoughts as company. It's a great time to think through whatever stressful situations you might be dealing with in your day to day life.
I remember the stress of trying to determine whether I wanted to change my college major or just stick with what I had already started working towards. It seemed the more I thought about it, the less clear the answer became until it got to the point that I could no longer even think about school without immediately feeling knots in my stomach. It wasn't until I went on a solo 10 mile day-hike that I really had an opportunity to clear my head and just enjoy the moment. Upon my return I was able to sit down and work out what the best decision and I discovered that it really wasn't nearly as big of a task as I had built it up to be in my own head. There are times in life that are stressful and it can be truly rejuvenating to just get away from everything and go on an adventure of your own.
Reason #2: You can go at your own pace
When hiking with someone else, you are often stuck to the pace your partner wants to walk, meaning if they are going in a straight line, it can be hard to convince them to break off and explore. One of the things I hate about hiking with groups is that all too often I'll want to go off-trail but they'll be completely against it. There's nothing I enjoy more while hiking than venturing off the beaten path to follow a river or stream and see where it takes me. You'd never find some of the most beautiful scenery by simply following a trail. The problem is that it can be pretty hard to convince others to take extra time to look for something that may not even be there, especially when your reason is 'because its fun!' and they blatantly disagree. I'm sure I'm at fault too though. While I complain about wanting to explore and being dragged along, I'm sure a good number of you would be annoyed by a hiking partner just like me. Someone who is constantly slowing you down and killing your forward progress. The beauty of a solo-hike is that this doesn't even matter. You can hike at your own pace without any annoyance.
Reason #3: You have no one to impress
When hiking alone, there is no one for you to feel the need to impress while your out. There's no reason to feel embarrassed by the sweat soaking through your clothing or the speed at which you are going, its only you and the wildlife around you. This can go hand and hand with going at your own pace, but if you want to sit down, sit down. There is no one else who will be judging you when you feel like relaxing and taking a break. Whether you are very self-conscious or not, there's something freeing about just going out and doing your own thing. You can dress in what feels comfortable, listen to what you want, and do whatever feels right. You don't have to shower before leaving either. ;)
Reason #4: It's the perfect place to read
One of my favorite places to read is about 3 miles into a hike. About an hour or so into a journey I can sit down, pull out a good book, lean back and relax. Just because someone might be off hiking all day long doesn't necessarily mean that they traveled very far. They may have only been walking about half of that if they were on a solo hike and packed a nice book in their backpack. Solo-hiking was always a secret weapon of mine when it came to knocking out my schoolwork too. After going out, finding a nice view, and getting my blood pumping, it was always much easier to focus on my work. ADD? Maybe. But hey, it worked. And it could work for you too!
Be sure to pack a cell-phone, first-aid kit, and an adequate amount of pepper spray and there's no reason why you can't enjoy a nice solo-hike of your own. So what do you think? Do you enjoy hiking alone or not so much? If you do, what do you enjoy about going off on your own adventure? Comment below and let me know! :)