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Hiking Solo?

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Re: Hiking Solo?

Postby Jimr » Fri Aug 18, 2017 8:22 pm

Hehe. For years I cowboy camped. As I got older, I wondered "why?"
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Re: Hiking Solo?

Postby rlown » Fri Aug 18, 2017 8:28 pm

Because we could. Weather is definitely different over the last 2 decades. I was still cowboy camped as late as end of September. We had a tarp, and then visqueen as a "top" cover. Never used the visqueen. It's called sleep and I like to watch the stars for a bit. Now I take the tent as a backup.
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Re: Hiking Solo?

Postby Jimr » Fri Aug 18, 2017 8:56 pm

for years I took the tent as a backup and never used it. These days, it goes up every time. I don't miss waking up in the morning with frost all over my sleeping bag. I use to bring a zero bag, these days, a +20 does fine. Part of that is that I do more layering. With a lighter weight down jacket and more layers, I can adjust better to conditions. I do miss my 1980's down jacket, but it weighs a lot compared to what I have now and, I carry a polyester mid-weight, so I have more options depending on temps. What I realized on the meetup trip is that since my mid-weight is a bit loose to accommodate a few under layers, it works well over my down jacket. Not only does it hold heat in better, but it protects the down shell from the elements. Something that today's light weight materials give a bit on to achieve lightness, is toughness. I'm always concerned about the material being damaged from brushing against branches and such. When there is a polyester shell over it, there is no worry. Given the price we pay for light, that's a plus in my book.
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Re: Hiking Solo?

Postby rlown » Fri Aug 18, 2017 9:31 pm

Interesting. I dress down in the bag, even cowboy camped. The main area is to get the feet warm and wear my beanie to warm both ends.

But we're way off topic.
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Re: Hiking Solo?

Postby Jimr » Fri Aug 18, 2017 9:46 pm

I dressed down in the zero bag. I dress up, on occasion in the +20. Sometimes, I dress up, just to shed later in the night.
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Re: Hiking Solo?

Postby Jimr » Fri Aug 18, 2017 9:52 pm

With respect to hiking solo, I prefer a partner, but I've had a history of potential partners that are all in until it comes to time, money and effort, then they're out. So I went alone. I've spent many years doing things by myself because of this. I realized that I couldn't tie my fun to another person. I've had many fun times alone, but would rather have shared it with someone.

I do much better if I plan that way than if I plan and trust my potential partner will show and there is a no show. Once, I headed out just to turn back a 1/4 of a mile from the TH because my partner bailed and I really didn't want to hike alone.
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Re: Hiking Solo?

Postby rlown » Fri Aug 18, 2017 9:59 pm

I only hike solo if no one wants to go. Did that one Thanksgiving from Carson pass. It was all snow, but i had a -20 bag, and a thermarest and a bivy sack. Then, I ran into two others who obviously had no clue where they were. We played cards in their tent, and then they slept in their tent, and I was off to sleep in the bivvy. I led them to their car the next day.
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Re: Hiking Solo?

Postby Jimr » Fri Aug 18, 2017 10:07 pm

The fact is, you went. Don't let other dictate your life, even if you have to do it alone. I'm going fishing in the morning. Alone.
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Re: Hiking Solo?

Postby pvalovich » Wed Aug 23, 2017 3:36 pm

I've been going into the Sierra for 29 years on 14 - 17 day loops - always solo. I'm 74 and still wouldn't do it any other way. I always have a rough plan but no firm agenda and no clue - just go where I want and experience what tickles my fancy on any particular day. Wonderful sense of freedom. Some points to consider:
* You need to like yourself and be comfortable being you.
* Build an emergency survival kit and medical kit - and know what's in them and how to use them.
* Always have a Plan B if things go wrong (and something always will). Your pre-hike itinerary is advisory only.
* Experiment - but be careful about doing anything beyond your experience/skill level.
* Be aware of where you are putting your feet (and in rattlesnake country - your hands). Accept the fact that if you get killed, you get killed but if you break your leg, you're screwed.
* Stream crossing can be more dangerous than steep snow.
* Bring a good book or 2 - I have a non-backlit Kindle that will hold a 2-week charge with 30-45 minutes of use each day.
* Use a bear canister - there are campground bears and wild bears - both want your food but wild bears will usually leave you alone unless you do something stupid.
* I've seen two mountain lions in 29 years, both running away - but bet mountain lions have watched me a thousand times. If there are deer, there are probably mountain lions.
* Don't rely on weather forecasts or what it looks like in the morning. Afternoon thunderstorms seem to happen instantaneously.
* There is no foolproof lightning safety net - just do the best you can and rely on the big country with lots of targets, little lightning bolt theory .
* A SPOT tracker is your and your family's friend.
* You won't need as much food as you think; Miso soup packets are also your friend for saving weight.
* Always be thinking and have situational awareness. Life is hard, but it's a lot harder when you're stupid - Sgt. Stryker (J. Wayne), Sands of Iwo Jima.
* Respect the wilderness and always consider yourself a guest, very privileged to be there.

Just do it - you'll like it.
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Re: Hiking Solo?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Wed Aug 23, 2017 5:21 pm

As for "cowboy camping", I used to do long solo trips with only a bivy sack. But you can get a very light weight solo tent nowadays, that cowboy camping hardly makes sense. It will cost $$$, but you can have a tent that sets up on trekking poles for less than 2 pounds.

Jimr- I agree with you - I would rather have a hiking partner, but since I am retired and like to go mid-week to avoid crowds, and often adjust my start date a day or two depending on weather, it is hard to find others who have the same flexibility and who do not cancell all the time.

When you solo, you still can be around people when you are on the more used trails. I do not socialize a lot, but do have conversations with others who are camped nearby. The PCT hikers are mostly "solo" but they really travel in loose and changing groups.

The longest I have been out without seeing a single person is 8 days. I have been on 14-day trips where I only saw people the first day out and mid-trip- total of about 4 people. I do not talk out-loud to myself, so at the end my voice squeeks!
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