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#132746 - 04/26/10 09:08 PM Hiking Alone
PapaSam Offline

Registered: 04/26/10
Posts: 8
Loc: Ohio
Hi everyone Im Papa Sam from Ohio. I recently retired early at the age of 53 and hiking will be one of my new hobbies. Im an avid experienced camper but not so much into backpacking. I plan on taking a 90 day tour the USA camping trip this summer and visit as many Federal Parks as I can. With the hightlight being a 3 or 4 week stay in Yellowstone. I will be alone(by choice lol). My question. Having been researching everything there is to know about hiking/backpacking etc., I take it hiking alone is not recommended. Opinions are greatly appreciated.

#132754 - 04/26/10 10:14 PM Re: Hiking Alone [Re: PapaSam]
300winmag Offline

Registered: 02/28/06
Posts: 1342
Loc: Nevada, USA
You can safely hike alone IF:
1. you leave a hike route and expected return time with a responsible person
2. you carry the "10 essentials" of hiking gear(plus some extra stuff)
3. you have checked the weather forecast for good weather
4. you have reasonable route finding skills and gear if not following a well marked trail. (Always carry a map & protractor compass & know how to use them)
5. you plan for unexpected emergencies like sprains, heat, cold, rain, and maybe even broken bones (!)
6. have fun

"There are no comfortable backpacks. Some are just less uncomfortable than others."

#132757 - 04/26/10 10:47 PM Re: Hiking Alone [Re: PapaSam]
OregonMouse Offline

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6422
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Note that Yellowstone is a lot colder than Ohio. Be prepared for below freezing temperatures at night, even in midsummer.

Personally, 3 days in Yellowstone is more than enough for me. The real incomparable scenery is in the Tetons, just south. Lots of hiking and backpacking there. Note, however, that for both parks, permits are required for the backcountry campsites needed for backpacking, and you may have to reserve them in advance. Check the websites for the various national parks you plan to visit.
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

#132760 - 04/27/10 12:13 AM Re: Hiking Alone [Re: PapaSam]
Tangohkr Offline

Registered: 11/08/09
Posts: 57
Loc: Arizona
Great answers. I am a mostly solo hiker. You might also want to look into Spot it is a satellite messenger. When in the backcountry you can send for help if you need it and if you are okay you can send a message to up to 10 (I think) people. It is a subscription, so some $ but it might help your family and you feel better about your backcountry safety. http://www.findmespot.com/en/

Edited by Tango (04/27/10 12:15 AM)
Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. Helen Keller

#132766 - 04/27/10 07:36 AM Re: Hiking Alone [Re: Tangohkr]
Ambersdad Offline

Registered: 03/16/10
Posts: 27
Loc: Norman OK
I for the most part hike alone for photography and to get away from the noise. Purchased a Spot Messenger for my wife and daughters peace of mind.

Used it the first time in Big Bend National Park the 1st part of this month. My girls were able to follow my progress on Google maps. Each morning when I got up I would send an I'm OK signal and do the same in the evening when I reached camp before turning it off.

#132769 - 04/27/10 08:50 AM Re: Hiking Alone [Re: Ambersdad]
PapaSam Offline

Registered: 04/26/10
Posts: 8
Loc: Ohio
Thanks for all the info and answers guys! I think I am well prepared with all the proper eqiupment and knowledge. I was aware of it going to be cold but not THAT cold...lol..thanks! And yes if I see it all in a week or so then I for sure plan on spending sometime in the Teton area as well and Glacier after that. I like the SPOT idea...neat...will go along with my daily Blog I hope to send out! Again..thanks!

#132773 - 04/27/10 11:09 AM Re: Hiking Alone [Re: PapaSam]
balzaccom Offline

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 1739
Loc: Napa, CA
I am going to file a minority opinion about Yellowstone. While the alpine scenery is wonderful at the Tetons, we found the hiking there pretty crowded. Ironically, everyone tells you to hike the Tetons, so everyone hikes the Tetons.

We hiked a lot in Yellowstone, and found that once we got a 1/2 out on the trail, the people disappeared! It was like having the park to ourselves. And we had wonderful hikes.

check out our website and blog: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/home

#132775 - 04/27/10 11:23 AM Re: Hiking Alone [Re: PapaSam]
Fiddleback Offline

Registered: 06/22/04
Posts: 478
Loc: Northern Rockies
"Be more safety conscious" is a motto that serves the solo backpacker well. Going solo increases risk but 'risk' remains acceptably low...at least acceptable to those who backpack. wink

Generally, recommendations against solo hiking are common in grizzly country. That said, all my backpack trips are in their habitat and half or more of those trips are solo. After that I can't think of any issues with solo bp'ing other than extreme terrain or extreme weather.

Take more care, be more prepared, be more aware of your surroundings, the weather, etc.. Practice more care and you should be just fine.

"...inalienable rights...include the right to a clean and healthful environment..." Montana Constitution

#132782 - 04/27/10 01:51 PM Re: Hiking Alone [Re: Fiddleback]
OregonMouse Offline

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6422
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Of course there are lots of mountains in Wyoming and Montana outside the national parks, just as spectacular and a lot more wild. I go there, not to either Yellowstone or the Tetons. It's just that the OP was planning to stick to national parks.

Yellowstone is basically a forested plateau of about 8-9,000 feet elevation with not much scenery to look at, especially if, like me, your idea of scenery is rugged mountains. I personally can't stand the stinky hot water, either! Yellowstone's only saving grace for me is the canyon (crowded) and the wildlife. With the lodgepole pine forests now dying from the bark beetle epidemic, I'd rather be up around timberline!

Sticking to established trails close to the front country (where people are more apt to come along should you get hurt) is a good plan for solo hiking. Especially be more alert for risks. Wandering through boulder fields, rock climbing or other risky off-trail activities are not a good idea when you're solo. In other words, if you must break a leg, it's best to do it when someone else is nearby! smile As already mentioned, letting a reliable relative or friend know your itinerary and schedule is extremely important, too. Be careful about using the "911" button on the SPOT; you don't want to do that unless it's a true life-and-death emergency!

Since you say you haven't done a lot of backpacking, I'd suggest making your first few trips really short ones, relatively close to the trailhead so you can bail out if needed. Practice going out in bad weather, so you learn to stay dry. In the Rockies, you can expect thundershowers to show up most afternoons. It's a good idea to start early in the day and be off the trail by early afternoon when this activity (lightning is the biggest hazard) is going on. Fortunately, they normally don't last long.

Edited by OregonMouse (04/27/10 01:53 PM)
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

#132837 - 04/28/10 12:50 AM Re: Hiking Alone [Re: PapaSam]
Jimshaw Offline

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
Papa, lots if not most of us hike alone a great deal of the time. As long as yer not a dufus you'll be ok. 300winnmag (affectionately known as "slug dude), since he chose the name not me) points out the requirements.
Jim S smile oh and welcome. Will you have a 4wd vehicle? If so there are awesome places in the parks in Arizona, Zion, Bryce, Escalante, water fold etc, where you can get away from people. Just be aware that each different terrain/setting requires separate knowledge, that is - alpine, desert, etc.
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

#132848 - 04/28/10 11:11 AM Re: Hiking Alone [Re: Jimshaw]
PapaSam Offline

Registered: 04/26/10
Posts: 8
Loc: Ohio
Again great replys so thanks! Seeing how I have three months to go wherever. I do plan to "work my way up". Starting with some short day hikes followed by some longer ones. Then maybe a short 1 nighter. I would love at the end of my stay at Yellowstone to do an aggressive 4 or 5 nighter combining the Bechler River and Dunanda Falls hikes! I even may do some general exploring of what Yellowstone, Teton and Glacier Parks have to offer by just siteseeing from my truck and short day hikes then come back in September on my way home for some serious overnighters. I am very confident in my abilities to "be smart" and aware but like I said I need to get some experience in first. I have to admit Im postvely excited about it to the point I feel like a kid waiting for Christmas!

#132969 - 04/29/10 11:31 PM Re: Hiking Alone [Re: PapaSam]
Roocketman Offline

Registered: 03/10/07
Posts: 203
I suggest that you might help educate yourself on solo hiking.

I was very much influenced by the books of Colin Fletcher in the 1970's and 80's.

I suggest that you take a look at two of his books dealing with his solo hikes.

"The Thousand Mile Summer" in which he hiked the length of California. This was before the great popularity of hiking the entire Pacific Trail.

"The Man Who Walked Through Time" describing his (mostly) solo hike the length of the Grand Canyon. It was the first such end to end continuous hike of it.

While he was an advocate of solo hiking, it should be remembered that he had a lifetime of outdoor life, including walking, hiking and backpacking.

You have a learning curve to go through to safely hike solo, especially on less than popular trails at less than popular times.

I encourage you to venture into solo hiking, but not to presume that all by yourself you will acquire the useful skills and perspectives in just a few hikes, or from reading a hundred postings on hiking forums. That won't happen. Especially if you fell for the negative talk about solo hiking in the first place.

A long time ago, I wrote an essay following one of my one week solo trips. It contained several references to what I wouldn't do because "I was by myself". That was in my fifth year of solo backpacking.

#133060 - 05/01/10 01:56 AM Re: Hiking Alone [Re: Roocketman]
PapaSam Offline

Registered: 04/26/10
Posts: 8
Loc: Ohio
Excellent insight... thank you very much! And yes I have been finding reading materials on solo hiking and have found nothing replaces common sense. I agree that taking small steps and working my way up is the way to go. So be it. Looks like on or about June 1st the journey begins! If anyone would like to follow my adventure....http://papasamstourtheusacampingtrip.blogspot.com.

Edited by PapaSam (05/01/10 01:58 AM)

#133254 - 05/05/10 06:20 PM Re: Hiking Alone [Re: Jimshaw]
jonbone Offline

Registered: 05/05/10
Posts: 1
dont forget the 10 essential very important, if you can take Mapquest maps with you, you can use that software not only for mapquest driving directions you know!

#137580 - 08/13/10 10:38 AM Re: Hiking Alone [Re: PapaSam]
tjn Offline

Registered: 08/13/10
Posts: 12
Having done a week-long backpacking on the AT solo, and just coming back from a week long Colorado backpacking trip (though with a friend) I would recommend the suggestions as to identifying beforehand travel routes, keeping others posted of progress (if possible), and having the correct gear (and pack) for changes in weather (especially places like Wyoming/Colorado). A day of hard rain can ruin a lot of plans and gear unless well-prepared. Having said that, there is nothing like backpacking alone, a wonderful experience.


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