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January 06, 2022
Blog Written by Wise Owl Outfitters.
I get it. You spend the week schlepping beer at the local dive bar, or clackety-clacking a keyboard in a cubicle where you sit for five days straight with all of the enthusiasm of a death row prisoner on Suicide Watch. You’re sick of people, noise, the mysterious stench from the sewer, the calamity of social media spilling off your phone screen. That’s it. You’ve had it. You need to unplug, unwind, decompress, run away and start over or just get the eff out of Dodge.
If you’re anything like me, you will hear the wilderness calling to you with the ferocity of an angry mom that will not say it again. You will want to strap on a backpack, take your hammock, and go on a solo hiking trip through the uninhabited and unknown environs of the world where you can bathe deeply in the novelty of exile and drink up the exhilaration of self-reliance.
To set you up for success, I wanted to give you some tips and tricks I’ve learned about hiking along the way. I hope you find them helpful and encouraging because if you dare to embark on this journey, you are going to discover parts of the world and yourself that you never could have imagined.
Yes. But first thing is first: No one wants to find your remains mauled by a bear. It would suck for the people who find you (because they were just out here to do some birdwatching, not stumble into the opening scene from an episode of Criminal Minds), it might even suck for the bear (I don’t know how bears feel about mauling), but mostly it’s going to suck for you. Personally, I have no desire to be the ‘unidentified remains’ they talk about on the evening news. And as someone who has never been mauled by a bear, I consider myself something of an expert on the subject.
Solo hiking is safe as long as you are able-bodied, prepared, and make good decisions when you come to an obstacle of any kind. Understand that, like anything in life, there are downsides to hiking solo: you could get hurt or lost or stranded or all of the above. You just want to make sure that you find the best place to go, be smart, do some research and planning, and—most of all—be safe.
There are all kinds of answers. It could be just what you need to shake your Etch-A-Sketch and recharge your batteries. Whether it is time for you to reflect on the meaning of life, or be alone with your thoughts, or to get the hell away from people with the distraction of an escape, a solo hike can set the scene for any adventure.
It really depends on how much experience you have. No matter what you do, make sure you find a well-marked and well-traveled trail. No story that begins with ‘they went hiking all alone in an uncharted forest’ will end happily. Like anything else, if this is your first time, then your best bet is to start with something easy and use it to build up your confidence over time. But if you already know you have an appetite for adventure, then the options are endless.
There is this wonderful invention called the internet, and if you’re reading this—Congratulations! You found it! You will be happy to know that there is no shortage of information on here. Once you decide on a destination, make sure you read everything you can about it.
Depending on where you go, you will most likely need a specific list of trekking accessories, but generally, you will want the following hiking gear:
I know this one sounds like it contradicts ‘Be Prepared’, but it doesn’t. It’s the 21st Century. The frontier has been explored and the west has been tamed. Ish. It is not the 1800s, so you don’t need chains, a set of steel-toothed bear traps, and a musket to survive in the wilderness anymore. Modern hiking gear is designed to be compact and super lightweight.
None of it is cheap, but on the other hand, your life is precious and valuable. Shell out the cash to be safe and properly prepared.
If you have friends that are avid hikers, guilt them into lending you their trekking poles for a weekend. Make sure you mention the part about your life being precious and valuable. Remind them of the time you let them borrow your car to go to the store, or when you were there to support them through a nasty breakup when they were completely insufferable. Maybe don’t mention the insufferable part.
I know a very experienced hiker who injured themselves walking to their car in the driveway. No one is exempt from the dangers of hiking. It has nothing to do with how much experience you have or how intelligent you might be; Avoiding dangers and injury is about having self-awareness, identifying any possible risks and then course-correcting.
A twisted ankle in the wrong place or in the wrong season could be life- threatening. And again, no one wants to find your vulture-pecked corpse while they are humming along in the woods munching on a delicious PB&J sandwich. So, be smart and don’t die. Because dying isn’t cool. Follow trail markers, obey warnings, and if you come to a juncture where something doesn’t feel safe—do not do it.
Above all else, remember this: Cowards live longer.
Contributing Writer: Jonathan D'Ambrosio
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