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#178355 - 07/11/13 10:02 PM woman hiking solo
melford83 Offline
newbie

Registered: 07/11/13
Posts: 2
Loc: Iowa
I'm planning a two-month trip and this will be my first hiking/camping trip solo. I do have some safety concerns. I know all the basics like carrying a whistle and pepper spray, but my friends and family are still worried about "a little girl on the road all alone". I'm 30 yrs old and feel like I can avoid dangerous situations and take care of myself, but some reassuring words or tips from female hikers would be great. Thanks!

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#178358 - 07/11/13 11:29 PM Re: woman hiking solo [Re: melford83]
rockchucker22 Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/12
Posts: 749
Loc: Eastern Sierras
Congratulations on your endeavor! I truly believe most who share outdoor passion are good people with good intentions. Trust your gut, if you feel weird get out, but most likely all will be kind and thoughtful towards all.
_________________________
The wind wont howl if the wind don't break.

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#178369 - 07/12/13 09:55 AM Re: woman hiking solo [Re: melford83]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
WTF would you be worried about?

Leave the pepper spray at home unless you're hiking in grizzly territory - if you're going where grizzlies are, it doesn't matter if you are male or female, take bear spray and don't go alone.

What dangerous situations are you going to encounter that a man wouldn't find challenging? The only difference between men and women on the trail are that men are NOT socialized to imagine that their gender makes a difference in their safety. Women are trained to believe that they are somehow at more risk than men. That may be so in the heart of New York City or Los Angeles, but going into the wilderness? Fuggetaboutit. Pay attention and prepare for the usual risks inherent in outdoor travel, ignore comments about "little girls" and have fun. Prove the sexist comments are wrong. Because they are.

_________________________
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

http://hikeandbackpack.com

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#178374 - 07/12/13 12:53 PM Re: woman hiking solo [Re: lori]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3865
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
Originally Posted By Lori
WTF would you be worried about?


I love this reply. I'd tell my daughter the exact same thing if she asked.

As pointed out, women getting attacked by strange men while they're backpacking is not something we hear about often. Actually, I don't think I've ever heard of that. I imagine it has happened, but it must be very rare.

I'll still suggest you might take a self defense class. Knowing how break a hold if someone grabs you and where and how to strike someone can do a lot to allay your worries and boost your confidence, and it can save your butt too.

_________________________
--

"You want to go where?"



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#178376 - 07/12/13 01:20 PM Re: woman hiking solo [Re: melford83]
BrianLe Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1143
Loc: Washington State, King County
Lori talked about bear spray, but perhaps by 'Pepper Spray' you meant a much smaller personal protection type of unit, mace? I'd carry that if it makes you feel safer, as indeed I think that humans are one of the most dangerous animals out there. But then I'd think in terms of NOT using it, using your instincts and common sense to avoid any situation where you might need to use it.

I think that where you're hiking, as well as when, these can make a big difference. Is your two months somewhere you'll be truly alone, or are you perhaps hiking where a lot of kindred spirits will be hiking in the same general timeframe and direction?

Where trail community forms, the trail community tends to look out for each other; I've encountered many solo female hikers on the PCT and the AT. One of my daughters expressed interest at one time in long distance backpacking. Before I'd done some of that myself, I would have had quite a lot of trepidation. After being part of such a moving gypsy trail community myself, I'd feel a whole lot better about it now.
_________________________
Brian Lewis
http://postholer.com/brianle

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#178379 - 07/12/13 02:44 PM Re: woman hiking solo [Re: BrianLe]
melford83 Offline
newbie

Registered: 07/11/13
Posts: 2
Loc: Iowa
Thank you all! I agree that most people on the trail are good people that look after one another. My boyfriend isn't a hiker, but fishes regularly and runs into drunk or homeless people. I suppose that is the source of his fears. I think that he's confusing river wooded areas in the city with actual wilderness. Now I can show him there are plenty of people that agree with me. Thanks

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#178382 - 07/12/13 03:26 PM Re: woman hiking solo [Re: melford83]
GrumpyGord Offline
member

Registered: 01/05/02
Posts: 846
Loc: Michigan
I am not female and I hike solo 99% of the time. I have run into a few folks who have been drunk or looking for a same sex partner over the years. I have even run into a couple of females looking for more than a hiking partner. This situation has always been very near to a parking spot. Once you get 1+ mile from a parking lot you are not too likely to run into the undesirable types. My best advise would be to camp away from any area with easy access.If someone strikes you as odd, move on. Predators are generally too lazy to go far from their car.

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#178400 - 07/13/13 12:41 PM Re: woman hiking solo [Re: melford83]
midnightsun03 Offline
member

Registered: 08/06/03
Posts: 2936
Loc: Alaska
It is also possible that your boyfriend is using safety concerns as an excuse because he simply objects to you leaving him for 2 months. I don't know what your relationship is, or why he isn't a backpacker when clearly you are, but maybe this trip makes him feel vulnerable on some level. Parents are always going to worry because that is the definition of parenting. And friends would worry if they don't have the practical experience to draw from.

Leave a detailed trip plan and then update it periodically along your route. Hone your situational awareness skills, relax and enjoy your trip.

MNS


Edited by midnightsun03 (07/13/13 12:42 PM)
Edit Reason: Because my iPad sucks and wouldn't let me finish the post
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#178403 - 07/14/13 10:00 AM Re: woman hiking solo [Re: melford83]
Pale Ale Offline
newbie

Registered: 06/18/13
Posts: 13
Loc: Northern California
I would tell my daughter--and son--to bring someone along with them, generally. However, I hiked alone for years; indeed, I completed almost a thousand miles of the PCT and often hiked alone. I remember crossing the snow-melt, raging,Kern River alone; glissading down Whitney Pass on a poncho over the snow which covered the switchbacks into Muir Wilderness ; being shot at whilst taking a "small" shortcut through an Indian reservation. Looking back I think I lucked out quite a bit, for all it would've taken was one slip up. I cut myself up pretty good on the rocks gliding down Mount Whitney, too. Wow. So why not bring a friend if at all possible? It's funner, too, generally to have someone to bounce thoughts off of, etc. And I have had a few run-ins with foul mannered folk over the years, all near trailheads (now that I think about it), and though the instances have been very few, I'm still thinking that I'm over twice the size of my daughter (wrestled at 285) and some folks still feel the need to cause trouble (or are feeling alcohol) so why not bring a friend along?

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#178409 - 07/14/13 01:47 PM Re: woman hiking solo [Re: melford83]
aimless Online   content
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2835
Loc: Portland, OR
I am a man, and so not able to speak to your quesion directly from my own experience. However, I have done extensive solo hiking, camping and bacpacking. I tend to agree that campgrounds and the first mile of trails are the more likely places where trouble could arise from other people, as compared to further uptrail. I also agree that such trouble is not very likely. Keeping you wits about you and trusting your instincts should be enough to stay safe.

When you're on the trail, or you have left the trail to hike cross country, it is the fact that you are solo more than that you are a woman which can cause trouble. Here, too, the key is to keep alert, think things through, and not accept risks without careful consideration. Especially notice when you are bumping into your ignorance, so you see the gaps in your knowlege and take that into account. Never be afraid to change your plan if a challenge looks too big when you finally meet it face to face. Prudence is not weakness, but often wisdom.

In short, if you stay smart, you can certainly do this safely, have a good time and learn a bunch about yourself in the process. Good luck.

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#178422 - 07/14/13 10:55 PM Re: woman hiking solo [Re: aimless]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6371
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
I've never had any problems hiking solo, which I've done for the past 20-some years--I can't keep up with most people any more and I am more at risk for falls when I'm pushing to do so. I've never had any unpleasant encounters with other people.

That being said, I'm a lot more careful hiking solo--not because of people but because of no help should I have an accident. I finally started carrying a Personal Locator Beacon to keep family and friends off my back (I call it psychological weight reduction). However, at my age (77) an accident would probably put the finish to my hiking career, so I remain extra careful, especially when off trail. Aimless is exactly right about the risks of being solo being greater than the risks of being female.

I also email my itinerary to a family member whom I can trust not to panic and call SAR if I'm a few minutes overdue. I call her when I'm out of the wilds and back in cell phone range. I insist that she give me 24 hours after I plan to come out, in case I'm delayed--I have the gear to last that long and, of course, if I have a serious emergency where I can't self-evacuate, I have the PLB. This gives me plenty of flexibility if I want or need it. If I'm dead (one situation in which I couldn't push the button), it doesn't really matter!

EDIT, LATER: Maybe if you take a SPOT and sign up for the tracking feature, your BF will be happier?


Edited by OregonMouse (07/16/13 07:19 PM)
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#178428 - 07/15/13 09:53 AM Re: woman hiking solo [Re: melford83]
ETSU Pride Offline
member

Registered: 10/25/10
Posts: 931
Loc: Knoxville, TN
Originally Posted By melford83
Thank you all! I agree that most people on the trail are good people that look after one another. My boyfriend isn't a hiker, but fishes regularly and runs into drunk or homeless people. I suppose that is the source of his fears. I think that he's confusing river wooded areas in the city with actual wilderness. Now I can show him there are plenty of people that agree with me. Thanks


In the backcountry, you're more likely to meet some hippies smoking weed and smiling at the sky instead of angry drunks.


Edited by ETSU Pride (07/15/13 09:53 AM)
_________________________
It is one of the blessings of wilderness life that it shows us how few things we need in order to be perfectly happy.-- Horace Kephart

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#178434 - 07/15/13 02:03 PM Re: woman hiking solo [Re: ETSU Pride]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3865
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
Originally Posted By ETSU Pride
In the backcountry, you're more likely to meet some hippies smoking weed and smiling at the sky instead of angry drunks.


I suspect that's because beer is too heavy and heavy whiskey drinkers generally don't make it too far from where they started. wink
_________________________
--

"You want to go where?"



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#178480 - 07/16/13 05:30 PM Re: woman hiking solo [Re: billstephenson]
Glenn Roberts Online   content
Moderator

Registered: 12/23/08
Posts: 1337
Loc: Southwest Ohio
"...and heavy whiskey drinkers generally don't make it too far from where they started. "

- and sometimes have problems getting back to where they started - or even remembering where that was! (Or where their pants went.) smile

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#178483 - 07/16/13 06:14 PM Re: woman hiking solo [Re: Glenn Roberts]
rockchucker22 Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/12
Posts: 749
Loc: Eastern Sierras
Hey hey hey nothing wrong with a bit of whiskey, too much is another story all together.
_________________________
The wind wont howl if the wind don't break.

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#178489 - 07/16/13 11:31 PM Re: woman hiking solo [Re: melford83]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
Originally Posted By melford83
Thank you all! I agree that most people on the trail are good people that look after one another. My boyfriend isn't a hiker, but fishes regularly and runs into drunk or homeless people. I suppose that is the source of his fears. I think that he's confusing river wooded areas in the city with actual wilderness. Now I can show him there are plenty of people that agree with me. Thanks


I should say that the risks are the same for everyone in the wilderness - you are still better off knowing how to prevent hypothermia, dehydration, hyperthermia (heat stroke), and how to address AMS symptoms if going over 8000 feet - these are all basic to wilderness travel.

If going on the Appalachian trail, which is arguably "civilized wilderness hiking," and the only trail with a crime rate (including a number of murders) - none of this applies. Take pepper spray and be wary of those who drive up, hike a mile, and cause mayhem - these are not backpackers or hikers, but typical Civilized Riffraff such as you will encounter in bad neighborhoods in any town. Sections of the AT are so close to town as to have the same issues.

I am pretty confident that if I hit the trail in Lake Tahoe by myself, I'd be able to hike to the Mexican border without being accosted in an unfriendly manner. Except that one property owner along the southern PCT, but I hear that was settled finally and the booby traps are removed. But that's out here. We who travel the western wilderness have a different experience.
_________________________
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

http://hikeandbackpack.com

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#178611 - 07/23/13 11:02 AM Re: woman hiking solo [Re: melford83]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2742
Loc: California
When I do a long combined road trip/backpack trip, my biggest fears are mechanical failure of my car at a remote trailhead. I feel totally comfortable in the wilderness on my own, but I am a terrible mechanic. Do be careful where you car-camp. The closer to civilization you get the more dangers. I like FS or BLM campgrounds, off the highway enough to get away from the noise, but with camp hosts. I always introduce myself to the camp hosts. I do not even to short naps at rest stops. I really do not feel comfortable at these. If I camp at a "dispersed" FS site, I find one that is not visible from the road.

As for meeting weird dangerous people on the trail - I spend very little time on a trail. Last trip I did 8 days off-trail and never saw a person. Yes, I have run across a few eccentric folks on the trail, but nothing "dangerous". (But then, I suppose people who meet me on the trail think I am eccentric too).

I have hiked alone in grizzly country. Not preferred but I accepted the risk. I took bear spray. By the way, if you use bear spray be sure to practice shooting it.

I think one thing that is helpful is to read some statistics on what things are really dangerous. What is the probability of getting struck by lightning vs mugged in the wilderness? It may make you and your family more comfortable if you (they) knew the facts.

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#191916 - 09/17/15 09:17 PM Re: woman hiking solo [Re: wandering_daisy]
alph2294 Offline
member

Registered: 08/14/15
Posts: 30
Loc: NorCal
I just finished Bryson's "A Walk in the Woods" in which he spends some time discussing murders which have occurred on the Appalachian Trail. My impression is that this trail is more dangerous than the PCT in that when they developed the AT they were unable to secure a broad swath separating the trail from "civilization". In general, the AT is not as remote as the PCT and so one is more likely to run into undesirable "non-hikers". Even so, the murders on that trail as still small in number and you no doubt have a bigger chance of getting hurt while driving to the trail.

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#192094 - 09/27/15 06:49 PM Re: woman hiking solo [Re: melford83]
sarah Offline
newbie

Registered: 09/23/15
Posts: 6
Loc: NY-NewEngland-SewardAK

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