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Hiking Solo?

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Re: Hiking Solo?

Postby JBenz » Mon Nov 13, 2017 9:12 pm

Wandering Daisy RE: Hiking partner. I recakk your posts on the Mokelumne from a few years back. Yours was one of the first that referenced the old Summit City trail into the Moke. This year my wife and I completed a 6 day (8 including the shuffle) through hike from Hwy 4 to Salt Springs. I'd like to do another next year (2018) but burned up my marriage partner credit for a while. Open to up to a four person group but have to be capable of severe terrain off trail hiking. I know many of the routes, too tough vs too glorious to ignore. Contact me via pm if interested. jbenz



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Re: Hiking Solo?

Postby CAMERONM » Tue Nov 14, 2017 9:23 pm

I differentiate between on-trail hiking and off-trail.
When on a trail, during the day, I prefer hiking alone. I don't like trail conversation and I enjoy being lost in my thoughts or listening to music. However, at the end of the day, I enjoy some socializing. I negotiate this with my hiking partner to make it work. Hiking alone also maximizes meeting new people; I have met many people on trails with very interesting stories, and some have become longtime friends.
When off-trail, I go into "the zone" as a form of focussed meditation. I don't listen to music, it would be an unwanted distraction. I generally prefer to be alone when off-trail, but with the right person, I can enjoy brief exchanges about which path to take, negotiating river crossings, etc. So it depends on the trip and the person. In our "push" culture I really value this outlet for no external input. Be Here Now.
Unlike the posts of others in this topic, I don't vary my risk-taking when I go when alone or with others; to me they are all the same and entail the same risks. I do carry a SPOT off-trail. I always am aware that it is my job to do whatever it takes to stay alive, at least until the green helicopter shows up, which if I am lucky will not be immediate but hopefully the next morning.
I don't understand some of the posts claiming that river crossings are safer with another person.
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Re: Hiking Solo?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Wed Nov 15, 2017 8:35 am

There is a method of river crossing, used for long swift crossings, of locking arms and have the line of backpackers parallel to the river flow. The first upstream person takes the brunt of the flow, but is pushed upright by the guy behind him. The guy behind him is in the first person's eddy, so has less pressure on him. And so on down the line. This is used to cross big rivers in Alaska.

Second safety issue is just having someone to help you if you do fall in. Not that the person could likely fish you out from the middle, but they may be able to retrieve any loose gear or help you when you do swim or float to the other side (assuming that person is already on the other side). The person(s) not crossing station themselves downstream ready to help. Falling in a very cold river crossing can leave a person hypothermic. As with all cases of hypothermia, the affected person may not even realize they are in danger. Others can offer warm clothing or even warm bodies to stop the hypothermia.

Third, you can get injured in a river crossing. Depending on the injury, self administration of first aid may not be possible.

As a small person, river crossings are more difficult for me than tall, heavier fellow. I really appreciate a hand when needed. Sometimes we take a rope to set up a hand line and the bigger person crosses without a pack to set it up. My gallant longer-legged husband often carries my pack across on a rock hop.

If you are an introvert, it is better to find a companion who also is an introvert (less talking). I also find that after the first few days, when most people, including me, are overly chatty, things settle down to less talk. A person I occasionally hike with is a constant talker in need of an audience, always, day after day! However, this person is also extremely competent and when I go on really hard, technical routes, I just set different parameters for the trip- solitude and getting into my own zone is set aside for the benefit of some real help. So, life is not always ideal; truly compatible backpack partners are hard to find!
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Re: Hiking Solo?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Wed Nov 15, 2017 8:51 am

When I worked for NOLS, "expedition behavior" was a big item that we taught. Interpersonal issues (group dynamics) more often defeat an expedition than technical issues. When a group of people spend weeks upon weeks, sometimes stuffed in small tents riding out storms, with no contact to the outside, setting some behavior rules really helps. One of the rules of thumb, was "avoid talking about yourself, politics or religion". This is not the time to unload your problems on a captive audience! Eventually, political or religious talk will divide the group. In a group, you need to intentionally give others some private time. You can use consensus for expedition decisions, but the buck has to stop at a designated leader. Sometimes you have to put aside your personal goals for the good of the expedition. And so on.. In our current "me" society, some of these skills are lacking. I still maintain that going in a group is safer, but going solo absolutely gets rid of these pesky interpersonal issues.
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