While we at Camping Plus love camping, we also enjoy all the activities that you can do while camping. One of our favourite activities is hiking. Hiking ranges from hiking in a tour group or with a group of friends to solo hiking. If you’ve had a read of some of the other blogs online about hiking alone, you’ll find mixed reviews. Some say it’s dangerous and should be avoided (nonsense) and others encourage it. Camping Plus embrace both group hiking and solo hiking. Of course, solo hiking is not without risk and we hope to help those new to solo hiking to decide if it’s for them, and if so, how to do it in a safe and prepared way.
What is solo hiking?
Solo hiking or hiking solo, is pretty self-explanatory. However, some may never have done a solo hike so may know what to expect. It’s not just about going for a hike on a trail without anybody else with you. There is a difference between going for a hike on your local coastal boardwalk alone, and embarking on a full day hike through the mountains alone. If you’re just starting out, you probably should stick to the smaller local trails.
The benefits of solo hiking
Many benefits can be derived from hiking solo, such as:
Build a relationship with nature and the self
Hiking solo allows you to detach from the social construct of society and spend some time with yourself. This means that you can stop talking, stop thinking, stop looking at your phone and just hike. Having no one else to talk to while hiking will allow you to absorb the natural environment and take in all the sights, smells and feels of the natural world. You will most likely observe things that you’ve never observed before. Hiking solo removes distraction and will allow you to go within and possibly even gain some personal insights and inspiration.
Hiking solo allows you to walk at your own pace and push yourself as much (or as little) as you wish. You no longer have to consider how others wish to walk, where others wish to go, do, or say. This brings an immense sense of freedom.
Gain a sense of freedom – disconnect from the grid
Hiking solo will allow you to disconnect from the challenges of daily life that can be presented through a combination of work, bills, kids, friends, mobile devices, or maybe your spouse (but we hope not). Hiking along an empty trail, with nature all around will capture your senses and bring a sense of freedom.
Overcome irrational fears
Although hiking solo can have its challenges and dangers (such as not having someone there for you if you fall), however most of the time if you keep within your limits, plan, and prepare properly, hiking solo will be a rewarding experience. These great solo hiking experiences may allow you to overcome your fears of dangerous wildlife, exercise, or being alone. Embarking on a solo hike may induce anxiety, however if it is done gradually can be very rewarding.
Obviously, hiking more will improve your fitness. But hiking solo can allow you to hike at your own pace, which will help you to improve your fitness on your own terms.
Where to start
We recommend starting small if you have not hiked much before. Find a local trail that is not much longer than say 5km and is in a location that other people often walk. This will eliminate any risk and will ease you into hiking solo. After you’re comfortable hiking solo, then you can start embarking on longer hikes in more remote locations. Always consider the difficulty levels of each trail and hike within your ability
Although you’re probably enthused to go out and tackle a big solo hike in the wilderness, make sure that you take appropriate safety measures in order to avoid any unwanted hiccups that can arise when hiking solo:
- Plan your hike and let someone know your plan. This is the most basic rule. Plan where you’re going to hike and tell someone responsible.
- Take a map, compass, and torch (and know how to use the compass). Even if you’re doing a trail that is well marked, it never hurts to have a map of the national park just in case.
- Take water and food. It doesn’t have to be a lot of food, but carry something with you in case you get off the trail or that restaurant you were anticipating at the end is closed. You need to have something to sustain you in case something goes wrong.
- Be conscious of when sunset is and how long your hike takes. Make sure that you are back well before the sun sets.
- Notice how busy your trail is. If you seem alone on a trail, take extra precautions.
- Remain on the trail. You may be tempted to cut through the bush to a waterfall, but stay on the planned route to avoid getting lost.
- Be Aware of wildlife. People who hike together make noise and often scare off wildlife. Hiking solo is a quiet activity which means there may be more risk of encountering wildlife. This is usually a good thing but can sometimes go wrong if you’re not aware of your surroundings.
- Take note of landmarks. Take in your surroundings and enjoy the beauty. But be mindful of landmarks that can help guide you back if you become lost.
- Take a GPS beacon. These assist emergency services to locate you should you become lost and have no mobile phone reception.