Does the thought of hiking alone immediately send your heart into overdrive? If you said yes, you’re not alone. Solo female hiking stirs the panic in a lot of us.
There are those who will say solo hiking is the most freeing and empowering form of hiking they’ve done. How does it make you feel? Often times fear comes from the unknown. Let’s address those fears.
Before you set out on any solo journey here are a few reminders:
This step is often overlooked. Research the area well. Use blogs, trail websites, and google searches to find information.
Below are a few questions to get you started.
- How long is the trail?
- What else is in the area?
- How often do people use the trail?
- What is the weather going to be like?
- What are the trails and terrain like?
- What animals are in the area?
- Is there any toxic plant life I should be aware of?
- Are any of the trails closed?
Study and Print Maps
Get your route planned in advance, and be sure to have a thorough understanding of what you are seeing. Save the maps to your phone, and print out a hard copy. If your phone dies, you are going to want the printed version.
Let someone know where you are going.
Whether you are going on a day hike or overnight, always let someone know where you are. Give them the name and location of the trail. Let them know when you are departing and when you plan to return. Give them a description of what you plan to wear. This way they can give search details in the case of an emergency.
Tools and emergency gear.
Your tools and emergency gear can change. Consider factors like the weather, terrain and length of your adventure. There are a few standards like:
- Fire starters
- Waterproof blanket
- Emergency kit
You will need to research your area. Don’t be afraid to ask others for suggestions. Reach other to other hikers on social media and ask them what they bring with them. Rangers and park websites can be a wealth of information as well.
I fear getting lost.
The chances of getting lost decrease as you study the area. Look for landmarks as you go. Be mindful of where you are. Remember to look up instead of staring at your feet during the hike. Stay on the trails. It is easy to take a few steps off of the path, and get disoriented.
To increase your confidence:
- Go out the week before with a friend. Scoping out the area and taking a pre-hike never hurts. Take note of the landmarks.
- Take a class in reading a compass.
- Study the area well.
There are mobile hotspot devices you can take hiking with you. A quick google search will bring up several options.
I fear getting stuck in bad weather.
Check the weather before you go. Also, be sure to check the weather patterns. In some areas, such as the Eastern Sierras of California, the weather is subject to change fast. High winds, snow, and storms manifest out of nowhere. A waterproof blanket is a great item to keep in your pack. Layer with a waterproof jacket.
What if I run into a wild animal?
Again, this is where research comes in. Look up the local animal life. Learn about what attracts, and repels them. Learn about what you should do in case of an encounter. Is there a type of protection you can take with you? When I first started hiking, I had no idea bear spray was a thing.
Should I greet other hikers?
Yes. It lets them know you see them. Make eye contact. If someone behind you is making you uncomfortable, take a break and let them pass you. Have pepper spray with you. If someone asks if you are alone do not disclose that information. Do not offer it up in casual conversation either.
What if I get hurt on the trail?
Getting hurt on the trails is always a possibility. When going alone, it is always safer to take a trail that other people frequent. If you do get hurt, stay calm. Use what resources you have to alert someone.
You have to know your limits, and skill level. Be realistic about your experience. There is no room for ego in Mother Nature! She wins every time. Having the proper clothing, gear and tools on hand increases your chance of survival. Always have plenty of water and some food with you.
Don’t let the fear stop you.
If solo hiking is on your list of goals to conquer, don’t let the fears stop you. It’s not always easy to face up to the unknown, but the reward is often well worth it.
With a bit of research, you could be well on your way to the most empowering hike you’ve been on until now! The more prepared you are to set out on your journey the more confident you will feel about going at it solo.
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