It's always a good time hiking with your pals, eating snacks with views, and enjoying each others company, but I'm a big fan of solo hiking. Your trail friends don't always have the same weekend off when the weather is in its prime, so you're put in the position of deciding whether or not you wait 'til the *stars align* again with your friends or send it anyway. I vote "send it anyway", as long as it is a safe decision. Although, everyone has their limits of what they consider is "safe". Some feel completely safe on a solo high altitude hike, some feel unsafe while solo on a local, well-trafficked trail. Please only fly solo when you feel comfortable and confident in your abilities and surroundings. When deciding if something is "safe" for you, consider the following: 1. Have you trekked the trail or in the area before? 2. What obstacles could you encounter? (wildlife, weather, cell service, etc.) 3. If something were to happen to you (injury, you get lost, etc.), what is your plan? After answering the above, how comfortable do you feel? If you feel uncomfortable, perhaps solo hiking that trail is not the best idea. If you feel comfortable and confident, go for it. Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to the outdoors, so please take this seriously. How to warm-up to the idea of solo hiking: Perhaps you're not quite ready to take on a solo adventure, but you'd like to get there. Start by taking short solo walks in an area you feel comfortable in. This could be your neighborhood, around your workplace, or near your favorite restaurant. Once you get comfortable there, go with a friend to a local well-trafficked trail. Pay attention to the signage, trail markings, access to the road, and other safety markers. Go to that same trail a few times with your friend to really get it down. Next time, go on your own when the weather is favorable, you're feeling prepared, and you have all the necessities, including the 10 essentials. I'd recommend starting with low mileage before taking on a bigger commitment. Things to know / how to prepare: 1. Know your body and your limits. 2. Never be afraid to turn around. 3. Always check the weather. 4. Always bring the essentials (navigation, light, sun protection, first aid, knife, fire, shelter, extra food, extra water, extra clothes). 5. Always tell someone the details of your hike (where, what time, what route, what you're wearing, car details, etc.) 6. Wear the appropriate amount of layers for your hike. 7. Bring plentiful food and water. 8. Download a trail map ahead of time using AllTrails or another trail mapping service. These 8 tips are important both when you're solo hiking and when you're with others! Why you might enjoy solo hiking: 1. It's empowering. 2. You won't miss out on the amazing views. 3. It builds confidence. 4. You can set your own pace. 5. You have time to yourself. Ultimately, it comes down to comfort level, confidence in abilities, and preparedness. Please always be careful and use your noggin. Happy hiking!
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