Have you always wanted to go hiking alone, but you were too afraid to do it? Humans are social creatures, and we do tend to rely on society when it comes to doing scary things. But some of us like to experience the beauty of the world alone. If the lure of hiking independence is crawling in you, then you certainly have to try it. Here are some tips for your first ever solo travel.
Photo credit: Joel & Jasmin Førestbird
If you are already a hiker, you may bring all kinds of equipment with you when you are in nature, but here are some essentials that you will need when you are hiking alone. Click here to find more info.
Water is probably already on your list, bringing a liter or two with you is the best way to stay hydrated, but because no one else is around you, you may want to bring some water purifying tablets, just in case you run out of drinkable water.
Bring a whistle. In case you get lost, a whistle will be much louder than your voice.
Always carry an extra layer of clothing in your backpack because if you cannot find your way in the woods, this is the best way to stay warm when the temperatures drop. Another useful tip is to bring a lamp, extra batteries, and a knife. A knife especially can come in handy. For example, you can cut wood in case you need to light a fire.
When hiking alone, it is wise to bring a mini first aid kit. You may never know if you will need one, and with no one in your immediate distance, you can help yourself quickly.
Several items are not a necessity, but it is nice to have on the trail; this includes toilet paper, binoculars, trash bags, wet wipes, and extra food.
Pick an easy trail for your first hike
Find a path that you think is an easy one. It’s better if it’s also a popular trail, because that way you will never be truly alone, and there will always be a helping hand nearby. You can even pick a trail that you have been on before; that way, you will know exactly what to expect. Hiking a well-known route can help you get a bit more relaxed about hiking alone. It is important that you stay on the trail and not wander off; there are fewer chances of getting lost.
Acknowledge the risks
The best way to overcome your fears is to face them. What is it that you are terrified of when it comes to solo hiking? Of course, hiking is not a risk-free activity; there are possibilities of real danger, like getting lost, being attacked by other hikers (especially for female hikers), being attacked by an animal, natural hazards, or injuries? These are the most common dangers that every hiker can experience, be it in group hikes or solo. Which one are you the most scared of? Yes, the risk of danger will always be there, but the first step to overcoming the fear is to try it anyway. Maybe the fear comes from your biases or inexperience.
Know your limits
The best thing about solo hiking is that you set the pace of your hike. But when alone, you can be more ambitious and go harder on yourself. Set a pace that is neither too slow for you or too hard, and focus on enjoying the view before you.
Trust your instincts. If you think that it’s getting too late, turn back. If you are feeling like someone is following you, get your pepper spray out and be prepared for defense. When hiking alone, it is always wise to trust your instincts.