When I tell people about my plans for future thru-hikes, weekend trips, or even day hikes, one of the most common reactions I get is, ‘you’re going alone?!’. Our society has been conditioned to believe that women should not do anything or go anywhere alone, and most of us females have been ingrained with this belief from birth. The fact of the matter is that most of the risks faced by the solo hiker are independent of gender. That being said, solo hiking certainly does come with a fair number of risks, but most of these can be avoided with some simple planning and preparation.
I firmly believe that in the case of solo hiking, the rewards outweigh the risks, as long as you go into your hike with the proper preparation, knowledge, and skills. I recently completed my first solo overnight trip, and it was an incredibly empowering experience. Knowing you have the ability to survive in the wilderness as an entirely self-contained unit is a great feeling. There is also an amazing sense of peace alone on the trail, and I find myself able to destress in a way that isn’t always possible when hiking with others. Having the independence to truly hike your own hike is another benefit of hiking solo. ‘HYOH’ (hike your own hike) is the motto of thru-hikers everywhere, and the concept is very important in ensuring you get the most out of your long-distance hiking experience. Committing to hike with a partner or group can definitely cramp your personal hiking style. This isn’t to say that there is anything wrong with hiking with a group. Sharing in nature’s glory with friends and family is a wonderful and important experience, but there’s just something special about hiking solo.