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#166425 - 02/04/09 07:01 PM Re: Thoughts on solo hiking. Is it wise to or not? [Re: Andrew_S]
horizonseeker Offline
Journeyman

Registered: 07/12/05
Posts: 84
I think a lot of the worries about murders and rapists on trails are leaving out one factor: they are often crimes of opportunity in that the victim of choice was not selected carefully ahead of time and stalked, rather, they are "encountered" and decided on a whim. This makes determining the safety factor on a hiking trail much harder concerning the human element.

as for the nature and group factors, i would say that from personal experience, sometimes it's much better to hike alone as long as you prepare well.

The last long hike I did in a group, we split up some of the equipment so that we reduced weight from excessive redundancy. This would have worked well if everyone had the same pace. Needless to say, at the end of the day, it was a disaster because the "group" was split by pace and impatience and necessary items were not available because they were with the other "group" who were running ahead and never stopped to look back.


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#166443 - 02/04/09 09:05 PM Re: Thoughts on solo hiking. Is it wise to or not? [Re: horizonseeker]
Dagny Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 11/25/08
Posts: 1916
Loc: Washington, DC
Biggest group hike I've been on involved 8 hikers. We had walkie-talkies at the front and back and re-grouped at breaks. Was a lot of fun.

Typically there are three of us and one or two dogs. That's about right.

Safety aside, solo hiking holds no appeal to me.

Met a woman last summer at the campground who had just come off the AT from her first night backpacking alone. She'd planned for a long while to do the Shenandoah National Park portion of the AT. Her family dropped her off and she spent the night in her hammock-tent.

She said she was so creeped out by the experience she was going back to car camping and day hikes.

I gave her a lot of credit for even attempting that trek.


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#166446 - 02/04/09 10:04 PM Re: Thoughts on solo hiking. Is it wise to or not? [Re: ]
Glock-A-Roo Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 04/16/03
Posts: 1076
Certainly a fair question. As with many things, it depends on many factors and details. But I think it is fair to say this: when soloing the dangers are about the same but the consequences are more grave. Twisting an ankle while solo, versus the same injury when in a group has very different potential costs.

I used to do a lot of roped solo rock climbing up to about 5.9 and A3+. The moves were what they were, but the potential cost of taking a fall was higher. It made me think very thoroughly at every juncture.

The upside is that after soloing the rock or the trail, going with a partner felt like cheating.

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#166448 - 02/04/09 10:16 PM Re: Thoughts on solo hiking. Is it wise to or not? [Re: Dagny]
juggerss Offline
Stranger

Registered: 08/29/08
Posts: 3
I have a passion for camping, hiking. 90-95% of my camping is solo (read me and my dog). The last 3-4 years I have thought hard about solo. At age 69 a lot more things can happen to me. One of the things I fear most is going out on the trail and not coming back, what would happen to my trusted companion? I have given a lot of thought to this. I go out to see, smell, hear, and feel the forest without intrusion. My campmate/companion of 10 great years passed away xmas of 07. Now I have a 1 year old German Shepard. His 1st camping trip was last Nov. for 7 days ( I usually go 7-14 days at a time about 10 times a year) I over extended myself cutting and carring firewood back to camp and started having a asthma attack. I had to sit down in my chair to try to regroup. My trusted companion saw me gasping for breath and came over and climbed up on my chair and put both of his front legs completly over my shoulders and laid his head against mine as if to say " its ok I am here". It helped me relax and I got myself back together. Also on our 1st long hike at the point I wanted to return as a "whim" I said to him, let's go back to camp, come on boy find camp. One year old that puppy turned around and went step for step exactly back to camp just like we had came. I will continue going solo (dog) as long as I think I can. BTW I second old soldier's post. I have been there!

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#166449 - 02/04/09 10:20 PM Re: Thoughts on solo hiking. Is it wise to or not? [Re: Dagny]
juggerss Offline
Stranger

Registered: 08/29/08
Posts: 3
I have a passion for camping, hiking. 90-95% of my camping is solo (read me and my dog). The last 3-4 years I have thought hard about solo. At age 69 a lot more things can happen to me. One of the things I fear most is going out on the trail and not coming back, what would happen to my trusted companion? I have given a lot of thought to this. I go out to see, smell, hear, and feel the forest without intrusion. My campmate/companion of 10 great years passed away xmas of 07. Now I have a 1 year old German Shepard. His 1st camping trip was last Nov. for 7 days ( I usually go 7-14 days at a time about 10 times a year) I over extended myself cutting and carring firewood back to camp and started having a asthma attack. I had to sit down in my chair to try to regroup. My trusted companion saw me gasping for breath and came over and climbed up on my chair and put both of his front legs completly over my shoulders and laid his head against mine as if to say " its ok I am here". It helped me relax and I got myself back together. Also on our 1st long hike at the point I wanted to return as a "whim" I said to him, let's go back to camp, come on boy find camp. One year old that puppy turned around and went step for step exactly back to camp just like we had came. I will continue going solo (dog) as long as I think I can. BTW I second old soldier's post. I have been there!

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#166453 - 02/04/09 11:22 PM Re: Thoughts on solo hiking. Is it wise to or not? [Re: juggerss]
Dagny Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 11/25/08
Posts: 1916
Loc: Washington, DC
Juggerss -- what a great pup you have!

Love hiking, bikejoring and camping with my dog.

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#166454 - 02/04/09 11:51 PM Re: Thoughts on solo hiking. Is it wise to or not? [Re: juggerss]
Be_Prepared Offline
Addict

Registered: 12/07/04
Posts: 530
Loc: Massachusetts
I guess I still always try to have a group of 4 when in the wilderness. I was trained back when there weren't cell phones, sat phones, PLB's, etc. You were responsible for yourself, and if something bad happened, you were going to take care of it yourself, or someone had to walk out for help. There was no pushing a button and your location is sent to a satellite and you hear a Jolly Green overhead in an hour or two.

Why 4 people in your group? It's not too big a group for disturbing primitive campsites, or trails, but, enough to deal with contingencies because if someone was injured, we'd either have enough manpower to self evac, or if we needed more assistance, one person stayed with the guy that was hurt, and 2 others walked out for help. This way, a couple good things happen. Nobody is alone, you typically would have 2 tents so both groups would have shelter if you are multiple days away. You would also have 2 stoves, etc. 4 people can carry their own gear, but, each can also carry a little extra group gear, so you probably have better cooking, first aid, and shelter than the spartan amount you tend to take solo.

I have also hiked alone, and feel fortunate that I never had a bad injury doing that, it was always very enjoyable. I agree that there's a peace and solitude doing that; it's great mental floss. Having said that, I haven't solo hiked since I got married and had a kid. I guess I just won't take that risk with the responsibilities I have now. When I was doing SAR in college and beyond, I saw examples of too many ways that solo hiking could put you in a very bad scenario. I would hate to have my wife or son try to figure out after the fact why Dad would ever take that kind of risk when he had seen so many people get into trouble first hand. It means I don't have the solo solitude, but, I think the trade off is appropriate for where I'm at in life right now.
_________________________

- Ron

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#166455 - 02/04/09 11:51 PM Re: Thoughts on solo hiking. Is it wise to or not? [Re: Dagny]
dweste Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 02/16/08
Posts: 2463
Loc: Central California
Being with others is a fine experience.

Being alone with nature is a fine experience.

Do them both as you are comfortable.

Find what works for you. Do that.

For me, solo is great for experimenting, dawdling, and letting answers to my questions somehow arrive in my brain. I need to do that.

Group stuff is also fine but very different. I look to get to know people, share laughs, and learn from others. I enjoy all of that, too.

I think it is as wise to try solo hiking, starting modestly, as it is to do most things in life.

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#166456 - 02/05/09 12:08 AM Re: Thoughts on solo hiking. Is it wise to or not? [Re: dweste]
JohnE Offline
Addict

Registered: 06/10/08
Posts: 601
Loc: Southern Cal
According to sources I've checked, no one has ever been killed by lightning on the AT.

Having said that, I am in full agreement with what dweste wrote above.

No one is forcing anyone to hike alone or with a group unless you're in the military.

Do what you will and don't hurt anyone else.

JohnE
_________________________
JohnE

"and all the lousy little poets
comin round
tryin' to sound like Charlie Manson"

The Future/Leonard Cohen


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#166463 - 02/05/09 01:37 AM Re: Thoughts on solo hiking. Is it wise to or not? [Re: JohnE]
oldsoldier Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 11/25/06
Posts: 742
Loc: MA
Originally Posted By: JohnE
According to sources I've checked, no one has ever been killed by lightning on the AT.

Having said that, I am in full agreement with what dweste wrote above.

No one is forcing anyone to hike alone or with a group unless you're in the military.

Do what you will and don't hurt anyone else.

JohnE


Heh, 15 years back, I couldve been the first!!! laugh
_________________________
my adventures

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