Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Why I Hike Alone

Not another person in sight!
Contrary to generally accepted advice about always hitting the trail accompanied by a partner or as part of a group, I almost always day hike and backpack alone.

I often make last minute decisions about when and where to hike based on my sometimes erratic work schedule and the weather. I find it hard, weeks ahead of time, to commit to another person or group and join them on the trail. I might decide the day before or even in the morning to hit the trail for a six to eight mile day hike, and that does not give me a lot of time to find a hiking partner or others to decide whether or not to join me.  When I recently embarked on what ended up being a four day and three night backpacking trip, I did not decide what day I was going to begin my trip until the day before, and only then because I had to reserve camp sites ahead of time.

Although I am not antisocial, I am an introvert, and I like my quiet and alone time. I do not want to carry on a conversation with a hiking partner or participate in a group discussion while on the trail. Hiking alone, in silence, increases my chances of encountering and spotting wildlife. Only when I suspect that bears might be in the area will I attach a bear bell to my pack or a trekking pole, but even its little jingles are less bothersome and intrusive than an ongoing conversation with someone several feet away from me.

When I hike alone, I can hike as fast or as slow as I like and need. I do not worry about a straggler falling behind or slowing down the leader, even if the straggler or leader is just one other person. Furthermore, I can pack and prepare the food I want without taking another’s tastes or dietary restrictions into account. At night, I can snore as loudly as I want without disturbing others and without their snoring disturbing me.

Don’t get me wrong. I have indeed enjoyed hiking and backpacking with others. I have enjoyed several backpacking trips with a hiking partner and a few as part of a larger group, but in the past several years, that seems to be the exception rather than the rule. Since I do often hike and backpack alone, I always let someone know where I will be going, and when cell phone service is present, I use Facebook to “check in” at the beginning and end of my trek.

This post originally appeared on The Trek.

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