Basically, I started hiking solo because I wanted to get into hiking and my friends were either too busy (we have totally different schedules) or they were just uninterested.
But it was something I wanted to do, so screw everyone else.
I don’t mean bailing on your friends and only hiking by yourself. I simply mean don’t wait around for people if you want to get outside. You have no idea how much you can get not only from the outdoors, but from being alone for a while.
I am a firm believer in creating your own happiness. You can’t depend on other people to make you happy or to get you what you want out of life, you have to go out there and kick some ass and get it yourself.
So here are 3 reasons you should go on a solo hike:
1 : Peace of Mind
The outdoors really do have some magical healing powers. I have no idea what they are, but they are out there. It is the same thing I feel when I am running around the lake. It is this weird sense of clarity. I put on my old dirty running shoes and walk right out the door whenever I need to really get my mind right again. If you are looking for a way to gain a sense of independence, it is right outside your door.
I don’t hike with headphones in for several reasons. One being safety of course. Hiking solo means you need to be a bit more aware of your surroundings, and unfortunately even more so as a woman. But the other big reason is that I simply don’t want the distraction. I like having my thoughts go where ever they need to go. I like to hear the wind and river and birds. You just can’t get that with Justin Bieber blasting in your ears.
When you get to the top of whatever trail you are on, you get to just sit there and take it all in. It doesn’t even have to be some big lake or panoramic view (but lets be honest, we’ prefer that). Sometimes it is just getting there and taking a breath. You don’t have to talk to anyone or check your Facebook or work emails. You can just be.
2 : Challenge Yourself
The hardest hike I have done wasn’t actually the most physically demanding. I had planned to do Wallace Falls, but once I got there I decided I wanted to get into some snow so I kept driving.
Well I got my snow, and a whole lot of it. The trail was tough and it just dumped snow on me. The wind would kick up and you could hear it coming up behind you and howl as it moved through the trees. It was so eerie. I didn’t know how far the trail would go. But I continued on and hiked up past the falls. I could see that there was more, but the snow was picking up, I was exhausted, and I hadn’t seen any other people up that far.
Part of me wanted to keep going and pushing myself but something told me to turn around. So I just stood there for a while, debating. I looked for signs of other recent hikers or a potential break in the weather. I got neither. When I got back to my car I initially felt disappointed. The falls weren’t even that exciting and I couldn’t find the remnants of the cabins that were supposed to be there so it seemed like a failure of a hike.
But I realized that it had challenged me in so many ways and really tested my abilities. It was the least visually exciting trek I have done, but it is the one I got the most out of. There is something about being out there by yourself and seeing how far you can go. No one else is there, you have to get it done by yourself. It is all on you.
3 : Its Really Fucking Good For You
Get outside more! Seriously. I really shouldn’t need to list off all of the reasons its is good for your health.
Its great to not only get some mileage in, but to hustle your butt up that elevation gain. I’m usually nice and sweaty on my way up the trail. It is great for pretty much every part of your body inside and out.
Yes it is just as good for you to go with other people. But going alone means going at your own pace. Sometimes that can mean taking your time and remembering to actually look up at the world around you, or it can mean racing your way up there to burn off steam and make sense of the world around you.
I am not saying go out there tomorrow and hike alone. Although you probably should. You need to be prepared. Get good boots and a backpack. Buy micro spikes if you plan on being in the snow. Take water and healthy snacks. Pack a layer. Make sure to have toilet paper and some sort of mini first aid kit. AND TELL SOMEONE WHERE YOU ARE GOING.
But I am saying you should get out there and do what makes you happy, regardless if anyone else is on board with it. You might be pleasantly surprised how satisfying it can be.