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#213044 - 12/14/10 10:37 PM Hiking solo - Yes or No? - your thoughts
bsmith Offline
day hiker
Addict

Registered: 02/15/07
Posts: 582
Loc: ventura county, ca
i don't think this question has a yes-or-no answer, but i'd like to know some of the varied thinking that you all carry around.

it's my contention that hiking with another person may or may not have a slight advantage over hiking solo.

i will assume that the solo hiker carries the necessary tools to stay out overnight.

i will assume that the solo hiker leaves with another person or two the who, what, where, and when of the day's planned hike.

i will assume the solo hiker travels and does not deviate from the planned hike.

as mentioned in another post, many misadventures carry immediate consequences - falls, drownings, extreme medical events (heart attacks, etc), animal encounters. not much can be done by another person or plb about those.

as an example, hiking with another they fall and have a serious head injury. do you go for help or stick around to keep the person safe and to keep predators away? how is either decision any better than the outcome for a solo hiker who suffers the same injury?

i'm thinking - perhaps incorrectly - if you are missed after not checking in, help should find you w/i 24 - 48 hrs. and that if none of the major events have occurred you will be rescued. cold, maybe. uncomfortable, maybe. hungry, maybe. but not dead.

your thoughts?
_________________________
“Everyone should have a horse. It is a great way to store meat without refrigeration. Just don’t ever get on one.”
- ponder's dad

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#213045 - 12/14/10 10:45 PM Re: Hiking solo - Yes or No? - your thoughts [Re: bsmith]
haertig Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 03/13/05
Posts: 2003
Loc: Colorado
Definitely safer and smarter with two or more people. However, I have hiked alone on close to home dayhikes, with all the precautions you mentioned.

There are times when having a friend on the hike might not help in certain circumstances. But there are more times when having a friend WOULD help. I can't think of any non-contrived circumstance where having a friend would HURT. Therefore, having a friend is the smarter thing to do.

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#213048 - 12/14/10 11:16 PM Re: Hiking solo - Yes or No? - your thoughts [Re: bsmith]
ponder Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 12/18/06
Posts: 367
Loc: American Redoubt
Originally Posted By: bsmith
it's my contention that hiking with another person may or may not have a slight advantage over hiking solo.

i will assume that the solo hiker carries the necessary tools to stay out overnight.

IMHO - Most do not.

i will assume that the solo hiker leaves with another person or two the who, what, where, and when of the day's planned hike.

IMHO - Most do not.

i will assume the solo hiker travels and does not deviate from the planned hike.

IMHO - Most do not have a plan, share the plan or follow a plan.

as mentioned in another post, many misadventures carry immediate consequences - falls, drownings, extreme medical events (heart attacks, etc), animal encounters. not much can be done by another person or plb about those.

IMHO - I hunt alone. If badly injured but alive, the PLB is my only link.

i'm thinking - perhaps incorrectly - if you are missed after not checking in, help should find you w/i 24 - 48 hrs. and that if none of the major events have occurred you will be rescued. cold, maybe. uncomfortable, maybe. hungry, maybe. but not dead.

IMHO - In the back-country of Idaho, you will only be rescued within 24-48 hours IF your EXACT LOCATION is known. Very few searches are started within the first day.

_________________________
Cliff Harrison
PonderosaSports.com
Horseshoe Bend, ID
American Redoubt
N43.9668 W116.1888

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#213050 - 12/14/10 11:26 PM Re: Hiking solo - Yes or No? - your thoughts [Re: bsmith]
SwampDonkey Offline
Veteran

Registered: 07/08/07
Posts: 1268
Loc: Northeastern Ontario, Canada
Good topic bsmith,

I was going to respond to the PLB thread but yours is more to the point about traveling alone.

I sometimes hike or camp alone, usually when I want to test my survival ability in a certain enviroment or season. I often hunt alone and prefer it, only seeing my companions in the very early morning and again after dark at camp. I am a far more successful hunter this way (other that when doing drives) and being alone really helps me absorb nature to the fullest.

About 50 to 75 days a year I work alone in the forest of Northeastern Ontario, sometimes I am on the highway corridor, other times I am deep in the bush by ATV, snowmobile or boat. My employer provides me with lots of communication methods being; 2 way radio, cell phone, Sat phone and PLB but sometimes an emergency can happen very quickly and leave you exposed to the elements.

Many examples come to mind but a common one here at this time of year is going through the ice. The best thing to rescue you is a Partner with a throwbag, but with a flotation suit and ice picks self-rescue is possible. After you get out then you need to call for help (an on-person waterproof PLB is a real asset), and get yourself warm ASAP; get to your vehicle, break into a cabin, start a fire, whatever it takes. A Partner is also beneficial at this "Get Warm Again" stage.

After an accident a Partner is also important, you may be injured to the point where you cannot call for help or if you do it may be a long time arriving. It is during this time that a Partner can protect you from the enviroment and administer 1st Aid to keep you alive.

A partner may also keep you from getting into trouble, an extra pair of hands or eyes can prevent the incident from ever happening (e.g. freeing a snowmobile stuck in the slush).

I spend a lot of time alone in the bush, I try to be as safe as possible and plan/prepare for anticipated emergencies. I also really enjoy being alone, but as I move into middle-age I realize that it would be safer if I had a partner more often.

Mike

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#213051 - 12/14/10 11:30 PM Re: Hiking solo - Yes or No? - your thoughts [Re: bsmith]
Dagny Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 11/25/08
Posts: 1914
Loc: Washington, DC
No - is what I'd counsel friends and family, especially the women.

Redundancy rules in my survival preps, starting with hiking companions. Especially in regard to women hikers/backpackers (I'll stipulate that I am a woman hiker since "Dagny" is apparently gender-vague to some).

If I can't move, I'd like to have someone along who can.

There have been some spirited ETS discussions on this topic, as it relates to real-life tragedies and rescue situations that have occurred.

I can see the appeal of solo to some adventurous souls, especially the peacefulness of it, going at your own pace and less noise to scare off wildlife that I enjoy photographing. Solo could be more soulful.

And even if you'd rather hike with others, it's not always easy to find someone who wants to go where you want to, when you want to.

A guy friend in DC is an avid solo backpacker, logging hundreds, possibly thousands of solo miles in the U.S. and Europe -- much of that on the AT, PCT and in the Alps.

Out of regard for his wife and his own safety, he is meticulous in his planning so she knows where he's going and when he's supposed to be there.

Know the risks, be prepared.


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#213056 - 12/14/10 11:51 PM Re: Hiking solo - Yes or No? - your thoughts [Re: bsmith]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 6480
Loc: southern Cal
The quick answer is that hiking solo is more hazardous than hiking with a pardner or a group, but that is not always true.

How capable is your pardner? Can your bud render competent first aid or hike out, if necessary (note your buddy is now hiking solo and you now are on your own).

It is not unknown in a group for an individual to go along, not paying much attention to circumstances, and then become separated from those who were. This person is now SOL. It well might have been better for the individual to have hiked alone. They might then have paid attention to the route and the situation.

Many people do go out solo and they do not necessarily die in great numbers. One tends to be more cautious and careful. It is necessary to leave info with a reliable person, stick to your planned route, and agree on a time to press the panic button. PLB technology does improve the situation to some extent.

Who is better prepared - the soloist with a FAK, together with training and experience, or a group of any size with neither?

It all comes down to skills and capabilities. Some groups are clueless, and can be more poorly prepared than an individual hiker.

Good topic!
_________________________
Geezer in Chief

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#213059 - 12/15/10 12:14 AM Re: Hiking solo - Yes or No? - your thoughts [Re: bsmith]
Hikin_Jim Offline
Sheriff
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 10/12/07
Posts: 1804
Loc: Southern California
I imagine hiking alone is a lot safer than driving down the average freeway. It's just that hiking, since it's in a "wild" place is a associated with danger.

Having said that, I think it's generally safer to hike in groups of two or more. If I get in a jam, I'd for dang sure want other people to be there.

I fell and broke my rt. femur in the Canadian backcountry in 2001. I was well equipped and well prepared. I went into shock, didn't think straight, and was just sitting there. Thank God that there were other people. Someone said, "hey, Jim, maybe you should put your extra clothes on to stay warm." I was so out of it that I hadn't thought of putting on my extra clothing even though it was -9C out at the time.

All of my survival thinking is usually based on the assumption that my brain will be functioning in a rational fashion. Given injury, hypo, or hyper thermia, rational thinking is a poor assumption. It's safer to go with someone else.

Still, I do go out hiking alone once in a while. Risk can be mitigated as mentioned in other posts in this thread and by:
1. Sticking to trails
2. Going out in decent conditions
3. Staying in more popular areas

Of course, I love going out in the snow, doing cross country routes, and getting away from it all, but the more one goes toward the more adventurous, the more risk one assumes. You'd better know what you're getting in to.

Personally, I don't think that solo hiking is an automatic "no, no" but rather is something to be done judiciously. I particularly object to the line of thinking that when something bad happens to someone who was out solo that they somehow deserved it since they were out alone. I don't buy it that anyone who goes out alone is a complete idiot. Read the writings of John Muir some time. Are these beautiful poetic passages the musings of an idiot? I think not.

HJ
_________________________
Adventures In Stoving

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#213063 - 12/15/10 12:40 AM Re: Hiking solo - Yes or No? - your thoughts [Re: bsmith]
Richlacal Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 02/11/10
Posts: 778
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
I've went Solo,Many Times,& I've also Rendevous'd Solo.I've also had Many close sightings of Predators,When going Solo!One person makes Alot Less Noise than 2 or more,& Animals in General,Have Less Fear,As Well! I 've Alway's tried to get Friend's to go Along,but when I'm ready to Go,I don't need to hear the Malarkey/Excuses/etc.,I'm Good to Go,& I'm Gone!I usually Avoid The Black Diamond trails that require Rigging/Rope,But I have used them on Occasion,to acheive my Destination!I'm Also Not, an Ultra-Lighter or Explorer when going Solo,It is Exhilerating for the Most part!

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#213066 - 12/15/10 01:05 AM Re: Hiking solo - Yes or No? - your thoughts [Re: bsmith]
dweste Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 02/16/08
Posts: 2463
Loc: Central California
Yes.

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#213067 - 12/15/10 01:16 AM Re: Hiking solo - Yes or No? - your thoughts [Re: bsmith]
MDinana Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 03/08/07
Posts: 2184
Loc: Deep south... Carolina
Originally Posted By: bsmith

it's my contention that hiking with another person may or may not have a slight advantage over hiking solo.


Simply stated, you're probably right. There IS an advantage. However, depending on environment, experience, and equipment, I'd say the advantage can be very slight. Which is why man folks say "the heck with it." Going with a partner, for marginal benefits, may be outweighed by factors such as route, timing of the excursion (I'm off this weekend, you're not, I'm going!), etc

I've gone hiking solo. A few overnighters solo. But honestly, I appreciate the company of 1 or 2 others. It's not a thought-out, "safety" issue as much as it is, carry less weight, someone to talk to, easier to get camp set up, etc.

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