by Diane Spicer
There are 2 types of female hikers:
I'm firmly in the 1st camp (a little outdoors pun there).
Because I'm a realist.
I accept my limitations, mental as well as physical.
I know how far to push myself, and when to back off because I'm only going to freak myself out.
I have days when I don't want to be on the trail alone.
And I freely admit that I was too timid to hike by myself for many years.
When did that change for me?
When I got serious about my hiking skills, and devoted time, money and energy to becoming a strong, trained hiker.
At that point, I began to trust myself.
These days, with 5 decades of trail experience, I have no trouble being alone, whether it's in my tent, house, or car.
In fact, I do my best thinking & emotional processing when I'm not distracted by other voices or bodies.
Alone time on a trail gives me a chance to concentrate on what's bothering me, or on big decisions I need to make.
I welcome it!
And I seek it out, plan for it, relish it.
However, I realize that some female hikers would do anything to avoid being alone.
Alone for them spells danger, distress, uneasiness, worry, anxiety, and fear.
Two very different viewpoints of a solo trail, indeed.
So who's right?
Is being alone on a trail scary?
Rest assured, this is not a right/wrong sort of thing.
It's a comfort level issue.
And that's something you can change if you want to!
I would not want a female hiker to feel embarrassed because she's afraid or uncomfortable to go it alone.
No one should push you into hiking by yourself, if you're not physically or mentally comfortable with that idea.
HOWEVER! There's one tiny exception to my claim that every woman should judge for herself whether or not to hike solo.
I would perhaps gently prod a woman into trying a solo hike if she's right on the cusp of WANTING to be challenged.
Because truly, there's no better way to stretch yourself than a solo hike, even just a solo day hike.
A half day up and back on a well marked trail is enough to bring out bunches of solo hiking fears, and if you structure your hiking trip just right, you'll learn a lot about your own mental and physical limitations.
And the thing to do with that hard won information?
Use it to become a stronger hiker! (Or walk away from solo hiking with a peaceful heart.)
More ways to accumulate knowledge about whether solo hiking is right for you:
Solo hiking fears revolve around the fear of being alone, which I am guessing for most female hikers means not having someone else to:
YOU are someone, and just how often do you really slow down and concentrate on yourself?
Give yourself the gift of ME-time.
Think your own thoughts as you hike.
Put yourself in charge, trust yourself to handle your fears, and treat yourself as a treasured friend on the trail!
More on "why hike solo" here.
In case you're not in the habit of taking good care of yourself on a hike, a few suggestions:
Allow yourself time to plan your perfect solo hiking day before you set off.
If waterfalls speak to your soul, ask around and locate a great waterfall hike.
Or pick out a flower guide and be sure it's in your pack the night before your hike.
More hiker self care tips here.
Ah! The luxury of time in the midst of splendid scenery!
Aren't you a rich woman??
Do nothing but BE in your body. That's what hiking solo feels like.
Do these examples seem obvious?
You'd be surprised how many women hikers I've talked to who do not think that treating themselves with gratitude and love is important.
They don't want to face & conquer solo hiking fears because they're not "worth" the time investment.
Let's face facts, shall we?
Most women spend time and energy making things great for everyone around them, and put themselves last.
Right here, right now, I'm giving you permission to put yourself first, using the "excuse" of training for a solo hike.
And here's one more potentially huge thing to consider:
Facing your solo hiking fears could lead you to undreamed of places - internally as well as externally.
Being alone could become a pleasant addiction, and could lead you to discovering all sorts of interests.
Relax into some new possibilities!
And meet some new possibilities within yourself.
Using myself as an example to show you how universal solo hiking fears are, I would reply "yes" to these questions:
Okay, so I'm not going to bully any one into hiking solo.
I've been the timid woman quaking in her tent at midnight, wondering what that noise was in the nearby bushes.
But here's the thing I want to share with you:
I didn't stay stuck in that fear. I pushed beyond it, and learned to trust myself.
If I can do it, YOU can do it!
Conquer those solo hiking fears!
Email me if you need some encouragement, or advice.
Hiking solo brings great rewards. I'd hate for you to miss out on them...
Do you have what it takes to go solo?
Why not find out?
You can send your questions here.
Nothing is more precious than self-knowledge, so let's work on that!
Solo Hiking Fears