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Hiking Solo?

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Hiking Solo?

Postby steiny98 » Sun Aug 06, 2017 3:13 pm

Unfortunately my buddy just cancelled on me three weeks prior to our trip out to bear lakes basin. Now I'm deciding whether or not to continue on the trip on my own or cancel altogether. I'd really hate to cancel as I have saved vacation days, planned, daydreamed, etc.

Was hoping to hear people's thoughts on going solo?

I imagine the toughest part is the mental aspect. Thanks.



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Re: Hiking Solo?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sun Aug 06, 2017 4:19 pm

Can you be a bit more specific about your route? Solo on well used trails is different from off-trail solo in remote locations. Some routes are just more suitable for a first-time solo backpacker.

It is more than just mental. You carry a bit more weight, because there is no sharing of group gear. Two people at stream crossings this year offers a bit more safety if you fall in. Navigation- are you self-sufficeint with your navigation skills? And emergency- nobody to run out and tell anyone you are hurt; how are you going to deal with this?

A lot of people on this forum solo backpack.
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Re: Hiking Solo?

Postby steiny98 » Sun Aug 06, 2017 4:30 pm

I was planning on going up pine creek to granite park, doing italy pass and the traverse to dancing bear pass, wandering through bear lakes basin, then over lasalle col or feather pass to merriam lake and then on trail back to the pine creek trailhead. Is this route just not feasible for a first time solo backpacker? I have been through Humphreys before so I am not keen on going there again, would rather explore new areas.

I don't think weight is really an issue for me, I go pretty lightweight in general. The only additional items I will have to carry would be cooking stove, gas, pot, and the SPOT. I can find my position on a map and in the field, and can use a map to navigate. I don't have a good answer for the emergency question aside from carrying a SPOT, but obviously would never want to have to use it.
Last edited by steiny98 on Mon Aug 07, 2017 4:31 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Hiking Solo?

Postby paul » Sun Aug 06, 2017 4:52 pm

If you haven't done it before, no telling whether you will like it or not - it's a matter of taste. Sometimes I like it, sometimes I don't.
On a practical level, you'll have more time to fill since there's no conversation. More reading material, or audio books on a player, or whatever you like to do when you are not walking or setting up camp or making a meal.
When I am solo I remind myself to be extra cautious. If you feel like your route is well within your capabilities then it is a good route for a solo trip. If you feel like it is pushing it in some way, whether in terms of physical effort, navigation requirements, or whatever, then maybe you want to dial it back some for a first solo trip.
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Re: Hiking Solo?

Postby Ashery » Sun Aug 06, 2017 6:57 pm

I've primarily gone solo since getting into this hobby a couple years back, gradually easing into more demanding routes as I got a better feel for how everything works.

For me, at least, the mental side of things all comes down to expectations. I've got no problems not seeing another soul in the backcountry for over a week if that's been a part of my trip's plans from the get go, but if a friend were to cancel at the last minute when we had been planning to do something just for an evening? That's when I loneliness and such kick in for me.

I'm also comfortable being in my own head and thoughts, which can actually lead to some hilarious social interactions when people first try to engage with me, :p

Not much to add on the advice side; paul's already covered what I'd be able to add.
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Re: Hiking Solo?

Postby balance » Sun Aug 06, 2017 10:32 pm

Greetings steiny98

First of all, don't traverse, climb, navigate or bushwhack anything more challenging than what you've done before. First time solo is no occasion for added risk. Stay well hydrated.

I'm not in your shoes, but here is what I believe you will experience.

You will feel a bit of uncertainty with being on your own and making all the decisions for yourself. But that uncertainty will be far outweighed by the feeling of being closer and connected with the environment around you. Expect the first day to be carrying a lot of mental clutter and chatter from the city. The second day you'll be more in tune with the natural world. By the third day, your vision and other senses will improve and you will feel at home where you are.

I would recommend leaving the music and stuff behind, and see if you can enjoy the night sky without a fire. The Sierra Nevada has a perfection all its own. Every moment is a question: What does nature have to show me? You'll enjoy the answer. Losing your hiking partner for this trip is likely a blessing in disguise.

Peace.
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Re: Hiking Solo?

Postby Lumbergh21 » Sun Aug 06, 2017 10:56 pm

I'm always out solo, but I don't try to push much beyond what I am already comfortable with, baby steps you might say. I've done some easy off-trail hiking in the Trinity Alps, and this month I am planning to do what should be slightly more difficult off-trail passes in the Sierra. I would say that if you feel comfortable with your chosen route then solo is fine. Just don't be afraid to adjust on the fly if anything seems beyond what you have done in the past. I always try to go into any hike with options in mind. As was pointed out above, going off trail solo, basically means its all up to you. There is no safety net, no one to help you.
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Re: Hiking Solo?

Postby rightstar76 » Mon Aug 07, 2017 6:01 am

It sounds like being with your buddy on this trip was what made you excited to go in the first place. Now it's not looking as fun as it did before. Maybe going solo isn't what you really want. In my opinion, there is no point going solo unless you really want to. If I want to go solo, it's because I really want to go and I think I'm going to enjoy myself. One summer when someone bailed on me, I canceled my trip because I didn't want to go by myself. I ended up going later with another friend but it was car camping. I still had a great time. One idea I have is maybe you could find somebody on HST to go with you. Why not post to the Find a Partner board?
Last edited by rightstar76 on Mon Aug 07, 2017 7:42 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Hiking Solo?

Postby SNOOOOW » Mon Aug 07, 2017 7:20 am

If you have a permit and all your own gear and want to go backpacking then go is what I would say. If you're not comfortable with the original trip then make a plan B that you are fully comfortable with. If you're not comfortable with something then don't do it, especially in the backcountry alone. It is August in the Sierra and you're not heading to a place that is super remote so there will be others wandering around. I have had the same situation happen in the past and so I adjusted my itinerary a tad bit and went out into the backcountry. Please make sure you post a report if you do go :drinkers: Enjoy
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Re: Hiking Solo?

Postby happycamper0313 » Mon Aug 07, 2017 8:33 am

This summer I had a go at being solo for several trips, which may be a 'big' deal because I'm a lady and had to get over a lot of ingrained negative notions about hiking solo as a woman.

The first night sleeping alone - not as bad as I thought.

Encountering a bear - not as bad as I thought.

Hiking on snow covered trails and putting my navigation skills to the test - not as bad as I thought.

The three major issues I had were tested in my first two days on the trail and I was hooked after that. It turned out to be so enjoyable that I spent the last two months on trips alone. You'll never know until you try. Stick with something you're comfortable with :)
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