The hazards of solo hiking

Grab your bear can or camp chair, kick your feet up and chew the fat about anything Sierra Nevada related that doesn't quite fit in any of the other forums. Within reason, (and the HST rules and guidelines) this is also an anything goes forum. Tell stories, discuss wilderness issues, music, or whatever else the High Sierra stirs up in your mind.
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balzaccom
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Re: The hazards of solo hiking

Post by balzaccom » Wed Jan 20, 2021 6:32 pm

sirlight wrote:
Tue Apr 26, 2011 9:47 am
...
Had some x-rays yesterday and nothing is broken, just badly sprained. I have been sitting here in my recliner ever since with ice on it. ...
I highly recommend the two cold beer cure. Put one cold beer on your ankle. Put another one in your belly. Repeat as needed...


Balzaccom

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MountainMinstrel
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Re: The hazards of solo hiking

Post by MountainMinstrel » Wed Jan 20, 2021 9:38 pm

calipidder wrote:
Mon May 09, 2011 9:18 pm
I think a lot of these injuries occur on so-called 'good' trail because we become more complacent when the terrain isn't as challenging as an off-trail route. I always seem to get what I call 'stupid feet' when I get close to a trailhead after a long hike. When I'm off trail or deep in the wilderness I tend to be more aware of where I am putting my feet, etc, since the consequences of a misstep can be so catastrophic. But I fall into this mode of laziness when I'm back on those last few miles of trail getting back to the trailhead and that's when i trip over roots, slide on wet rocks, or generally make stupid missteps. As Luke Skywalker once told the Emperor, "your overconfidence is your biggest weakness" and I think we all tend to fall into that overconfident comfort zone when we're on less challenging terrain.
This. I was solo going off trail to Hyatt lake. I had just finished scrambling up a ridge above the lake and was cruising across a dead flat stretch of granite. Next thing I knew I was playing super man landing mostly on my right knee. Tore a big chunk out of it and bled seemingly forever. I completely soaked my handkerchief but eventually got it slowed down enough to continue on. looked around for what I might have tripped over but came to the conclusion that it was just my own feet. I carried that stained handkerchief for a few years to remind me to always pay attention.
Just an old musician who loves the Mountains.

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dave54
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Re: The hazards of solo hiking

Post by dave54 » Thu Jan 21, 2021 3:52 pm

It is pedantic, but the hazards of hiking solo are basically the same as with someone. You can trip and fall whether alone or in a group. A trail can give way or a rock fall can occur regardless of group size.
The risks are different. If you get injured you have no assistance.

Hazard and risk are not synonyms.
Hazard = something that can go wrong no matter how unlikely.
Risk = the probability something will go wrong.
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Log off and get outdoors!
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Re: The hazards of solo hiking

Post by SSSdave » Fri Jan 22, 2021 9:22 am

Don't understand how the above posts that are focusing on injuries have much to do with being solo? Of course there is an advantage of having someone else along to help dress or wrap supports for injuries. The biggest hazard of hiking solo in some areas is not about injuries at all but rather that black bears very much instinctively understand how much more single humans out alone are vulnerable versus groups so may tend to be more aggressive. Another situation is dangerous stream fords. The biggest issue for some people is psychological...fear, especially on moonless nights in creepy spooky forests. That can cause some to abort. There are many ways experienced familiar people with good skills and teamwork can better deal with issues.

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Re: The hazards of solo hiking

Post by Wandering Daisy » Fri Jan 22, 2021 11:30 am

I agree! There is no question in my mind that solo is a more dangerous. However, there are logistical and social issues with groups - getting the permit, organizing people, various hiking paces to manage, dealing with all the interpersonal issues, finding a campsite with enough space to fit more than one tent and commitment in general (too many "promises" that turn into no-shows). I think those of us who solo know well the added risk, but the benefit/cost analysis does not pan out. I used to lead trips for CMC (California Mountaineering Club) and got fed up with all the problems and quit doing that years ago. A few of my trips with others the last two years did not turn out well.

On the other hand I know people who have found a compatible group that they regularly do trips with. I know a group of three women who have done the CDT, PCT and Ropers High Route over several years; no longer now that their lives have diverged. Spouses make good partners!

My order of preference is: 1) compatible, reliable long-term partners, 2) solo, 3) groups with people I do not know well.

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Re: The hazards of solo hiking

Post by oldranger » Mon Feb 08, 2021 12:38 pm

It took 61 years of hiking/backpacking before I got injured--broken shoulder. Luckily just 3 miles from the trailhead and I was able to take care of myself. if further away I still would have managed to self evacuate. My view is that the larger the group the more likely someone in the group will get injured. So I have always felt more comfortable solo for completely selfish reasons--I don't want to abort the trip. As a ranger on more than one occasion parties dumped slightly injured persons on me to arrange evacuation when the party simply had to wait a couple of days for the person to recover. I could never do that to a friend.
Mike

Who can't do everything he used to and what he can do takes a hell of a lot longer!

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erutan
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Re: The hazards of solo hiking

Post by erutan » Mon Apr 05, 2021 9:19 pm

Lots of scrapes, some bruises. Only significant injury hiking was a sprained pinky (?!), when a new pair of boots slipped on a thin edge of rock and it felt like I spun/flipped around on some fins (who knows, it was a chaotic long moment) and an outstretched arm caught rock and I stabilized.

I was solo XC from 2011-2018, have been with a partner in the past two summers. It's better and worse - having someone to share moments with is great, making and breaking camp & cooking is far more enjoyable, taking little breaks is nice but I find it's harder to slip into that meditative mindset after day 4-5 on the trail. I suppose part of it is that since I know the range better I'm always a bit in "trip leader" mode, but it's a different pyschological state.

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