It took an unexpected turn of events for me to embark on my first ever solo hike. After going through a rough break up I felt lost, confused, hurt, and angered; all the typical emotions one experiences after a loss. I needed to find myself and knew I had to do that alone, not with friends by my side or family in my ear. I did that the best way I knew how: hiking. And not hiking with a bevy of friends in tow. Hiking completely solo: just me and nature and whoever I happened to run into on the trail.
Taking a solo hike can feel liberating – awarding yourself the opportunity to be independent promotes self-growth and self-awareness. Just like anything else in life if you don’t challenge yourself to step into the uncomfortable you will never grow or become a stronger person.
I will be honest it was difficult to step out that door and willingly drive by myself to hike alone on a trail. I was so uncomfortable with the thought of getting lost in the wilderness that I almost turned the car around. But I took the plunge and am grateful that I did. With the appropriate preparation and precautions, I’d recommend everyone to take a solo hike – regardless of your relationship status or predicament – for eight simple reasons.
8 Reasons To Take a Solo Hike
- Independence – Solo hiking can help you be the most independent and confident version of yourself. The feeling of accomplishment after you complete your first solo hike will be an experience you will never forget. You will feel a wave of happiness sweep over you, feeling like you can take on anything that comes your way. And you can!
- Spiritual Health – Solitude – pure solitude in which you completely remove yourself from your friends and family – allows time for self-examination, relaxation, and soul-searching away from the hustle and bustle of your busy life. It’s a chance to meditate, contemplate, focus on yourself for a dedicated period of time.
- Set Your Own Pace – When you’re hiking with a group or even a friend you can only move as fast as the slowest person. On a solo hike you set the pace and determine how fast or slow you’d like to go. There are no limits, no boundaries – you are completely in control.
- Overcoming Fears – Everyone has a fear. Some of us fear being alone. Others worry about getting lost in the woods, wild animals, darkness, bad weather, heights, you name it! A solo hike can help you overcome those fears and maybe even prove to you that they are irrational.
- Reward – A solo hiker can tell themselves “I did this all by myself” when they finish the hike. The success of the adventure is solely credited toward the solo hiker. Staying safe, being self-sufficient, following the trail, and getting yourself back is all you – no one else assisted in that.
- Flexibility – You have the flexibility to decide what time you’d like to hike, where you’d like to hike, and the duration of your hike when you are hiking alone. Changing your pace, incorporating rest breaks when you need them, or changing your route is all determined by you.
- Self-reliance – When hiking solo, the only person you can rely on is yourself. You can’t expect someone else to guide you, provide you with driving directions, pack your snacks for you, or keep you safe. It is entirely up to you to take care of yourself.
- Challenge – It has been said that the best way to grow is to do what challenges you most. For me it was doing something scary, something I’d never done before, something I normally wouldn’t dream of doing and the risk ended in reward.
Please note: Female hikers should take extra precaution when taking a solo hike. Hike a trail that is well populated, during peak hours, some sort of safety measure for unexpected animal encounters, and share with close friends AND family your exact itinerary.
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