Hiking “solo” doesn’t always mean solo. FitzRoy is a great companion!
I grew up in a rural area with no neighbors my age to speak of. My days were spent exploring the woods and creek behind my house. Being alone in the woods was, and remains to be, just a natural part of my life. As I gained more friends who could accompany me outdoors, I often found myself desiring the solitude I had before. Time alone gave me the space I needed to clear my head, work things out, and push myself at my own pace.
Adventuring by yourself can be a scary prospect. Society has led us to believe that it’s not safe for women to be alone outdoors. I’m here to tell you to push those stereotypes aside and step out of your comfort zone. Solo adventures are a challenge, but also very rewarding. You can go where you want, take breaks when you want, and most importantly, learn to trust in your own skills.
Need more reasons? Read this blog article about the benefits of hiking alone (https://www.rei.com/blog/hike/benefits-hiking-alone).
Here are a few tips before you set out on your own:
Gain Outdoor Skills First
Make sure you have gained experience from well-trained peers before going out on your own. Tag along and learn from them. Ask a lot of questions. Consider starting off with guided hikes in a state park or with your local outfitter.
Start Off Small
Don’t bite off more than you can chew on your first solo outing. Start with just a daytrip in an area you are familiar with. Plan to do less mileage than you would do with a group and plan your footing carefully; injury prevention is even more important when you are alone.
Planning is Key
Become familiar with the area including your planned route, the terrain, the weather, and any wildlife you may encounter. Don’t forget your 10 essentials (https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/ten-essentials.html)! With each unknown you can eliminate on your adventure, the safer and more confident you feel.
Share Your Itinerary
Let a trusted family member or friend know of your plans. In the off chance something goes wrong, you’ll have a support crew at home on stand-by. It’s a good idea to leave your itinerary in your car as well.
Keep Safety in Mind
Always bring a fully charged cell phone with you. If you are going to an area without service, an investment in a satellite phone or messenger will give you some extra peace of mind. When traveling in bear country, bear spray is a must have.
Solo adventuring is not always about being fearless – it’s about facing those fears head-on and not letting them limit you. At the end if the day, you can look back and say “I did that. All on my own.” It truly is a life-shaping experience that no one can take away from you.
Amanda Galvan, Outreach Specialist
REI Co-Op, Bedford Distribution Center