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#86788 - 01/10/08 04:59 PM Solo hiking
ringtail Offline
member

Registered: 08/22/02
Posts: 2296
Loc: Colorado Rockies
Friends and family often are concerned about me hiking solo, but WHY?

When I hike with groups it seems that someone wants to take of picture of the group at the start of the hike. That picture will contain the source of most problems encountered in the backcountry.

There are hazards in the backcountry, but most problems will come from the folks hiking with you.

I expose myself to more hazards helping others than I do when I am solo.

Solo = danger is a myth.

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#86789 - 01/10/08 05:01 PM Re: Solo hiking [Re: ringtail]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
food
"Solo = danger is a myth."
_____________________________________
Yup <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
Jim <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/cool.gif" alt="" />
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#86790 - 01/10/08 05:57 PM Re: Solo hiking [Re: ringtail]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2752
Loc: California
I think it depends a lot on where you hike and what level of difficulty. I feel hiking on trails solo is quite safe. It gets a bit more difficult to evaluate once you are off trail or truely solo (not seeing anyone for weeks at a time) in a very remote area. A friend of mine that I hiked with in the Wind River Mountains this summer is on the Fremont County SAR. In the last 5 years they have brought out bodies of two solo hikers. We went over a pass this summer only feet away from a fellow who died up there. It is a loose boulder field and he dislodged a rock that pinned him down. He was 50 feet from a lake and but could not get to water. His dog stayed by his side but could not get water and did not go for help. This is a really remote area and only a handfull of people even get in the general area each year. He wrote a journal as he died of dehydration. It was 7 days before anyone knew he was in trouble.

If you go out with competent people they are an advantage, particularly in bad weather. If your partner also has wilderness first aid experience, they truely can save your life.

In my opinion:

group of 4 competent hikers = safest
go with one other person = safer
go solo = safe in some conditions
go with incompetent people, regardless of number = not safe

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#86791 - 01/10/08 06:23 PM Re: Solo hiking [Re: ringtail]
Trailrunner Offline
member

Registered: 01/05/02
Posts: 1835
Loc: Los Angeles
Ideally, if I could clone myself I would have the ideal hiking partner. Then he could get off work when I do, rest when I want to, push hard when I want to, even stop to pee when I want to. I would love to have a hiking partner like that. But I'm not sure if I'd want to talk to the guy <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

I would prefer to have a partner but reality gets in the way. I can't clone myself. I want to do my trip, not someone else's. Not that mine is any better but just that it's mine. That's why most of my major trips are solo. Actually when hiking I often become very introspective and internally focused. I can reach a state of mind not obtainable in the company of others. Sometimes I like that. There is much to be said for human companionship but sometimes long days on the trail are not the best place for it.

Whenever more than one person is in a group there will be inequalities. That's a given. I really don't know if I'm more of a danger to those I'm with than they are to me. I suppose that can depend on my level of luck, or theirs. And I'm not convinced there's a solid inverse correlation between skill level and potential for disaster. Lots of experienced folks get into trouble.

I'd like to see some statistics (the real kind <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" />) that show whether people are more likely to get hurt while solo or in a group. And to take that one step further, show whether an injured person's chances are really better in a group. I don't know.

_________________________
If you only travel on sunny days you will never reach your destination.*

* May not apply at certain latitudes in Canada and elsewhere.

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#86792 - 01/10/08 07:53 PM Re: Solo hiking [Re: Trailrunner]
finallyME Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 2710
Loc: Utah
Quote:
Ideally, if I could clone myself I would have the ideal hiking partner.


I am trying with my kids. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" /> I am somewhat confident that it will work with my boys, but not so sure with the girls. We will see. I am sure that those here who have hiked with their kids a lot and then the kids decided they didn't like it, can educate me on this one. The benefits I see are that all equipment used is decided (and financed) by me. The rules are set by me. And, they don't work, so their schedule is similar to mine. I guess we will see when they reach puberty. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />
_________________________
I've taken a vow of poverty. To annoy me, send money.

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#86793 - 01/10/08 10:41 PM Re: Solo hiking [Re: Trailrunner]
billk Offline
member

Registered: 08/20/03
Posts: 1196
Loc: Portland, Oregon
If I could clone myself, I'd send my clone off to work so I could go backpacking <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

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#86794 - 01/11/08 06:01 AM Re: Solo hiking [Re: ringtail]
Pika Offline
member

Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 1736
Loc: Rural Southeast Arizona
For me the issue is simple; go solo or stay at home. I was born before WW-II and among people my age, there are few that are interested in anything more strenuous than golf. So basically, there are no potential hiking companions in my age group, at least not that I'm prepared to take the trouble to meet. Moreover, younger people have tastes different enough from mine in life experience, music and philosophy that I don't really enjoy prolonged "togetherness" with them. I was raised during the depression and war years by parents who had a tough time of it and the influence of these years shows. I'm an internal and atavistic person; I enjoy company but am solitary by nature so long periods alone don't bother me. Like Trailrunner, when I'm alone, I tend to get into a mental state that is different from that of everyday life. I recognize the risks of solo hiking and try to mitigate them as much as possible. But, as has been stated often on this forum, the risks of driving to the trail head are probably greater than those on the trail. Also, in 60+ years of largely solo hiking and often solo forestry work, I have not, yet, been at risk simply because of being alone. So, as long as my body holds up, I'll be out there solo.


Edited by Pika (01/11/08 06:02 AM)
_________________________
May I walk in beauty.

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#86795 - 01/11/08 07:32 AM Re: Solo hiking [Re: ringtail]
cfiles Offline
member

Registered: 12/06/07
Posts: 24
Loc: Arkansas
I am one of the fortunate few that have a whole group of hiking buddies that are similar to me (physically, mentally, age, etc). We have a good time when we all go hiking together and we have all become very aware of how far to push each other (physically and mentally). In my case I feel safer when we all hike together because we are all competent hikers and know full well the risk we all take by being in remote locations.

With that said there have been a few times when an outsider has joined us and does not fit in well. In those cases the outsider has definitely had the potential to put us all at risk. Fortunately nothing too bad has never happened in either case.

So I think it is a toss up. If you can find competent people to hike with that you are comfortable around I think you can be safer. But an incompetent person (hiking/wilderness wise) can put you at a greater risk than going it alone.

Just to add to that, it is also good to have a set of "what if" rules defined when hiking with other people. Answers to questions like...

* Should we get separated, what do we do, where do we meet?
* What to do in the case of a snake bite/broken leg/severe illness/etc?
* Who to contact for help?

Things like that. Of course I ALWAYS leave a complete itinerary with multiple people before going on a trip, solo or in a group.
_________________________
my sites: http://www.hikeitall.com - http://www.arhiker.com

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#86796 - 01/11/08 08:05 AM Re: Solo hiking [Re: Pika]
JAK Offline
member

Registered: 03/19/04
Posts: 2569
Quote:
For me the issue is simple; go solo or stay at home. I was born before WW-II and among people my age, there are few that are interested in anything more strenuous than golf. So basically, there are no potential hiking companions in my age group, at least not that I'm prepared to take the trouble to meet. Moreover, younger people have tastes different enough from mine in life experience, music and philosophy that I don't really enjoy prolonged "togetherness" with them. I was raised during the depression and war years by parents who had a tough time of it and the influence of these years shows. I'm an internal and atavistic person; I enjoy company but am solitary by nature so long periods alone don't bother me. Like Trailrunner, when I'm alone, I tend to get into a mental state that is different from that of everyday life. I recognize the risks of solo hiking and try to mitigate them as much as possible. But, as has been stated often on this forum, the risks of driving to the trail head are probably greater than those on the trail. Also, in 60+ years of largely solo hiking and often solo forestry work, I have not, yet, been at risk simply because of being alone. So, as long as my body holds up, I'll be out there solo.
So are you still learning stuff about nature after 60+ years, or is there only so much to see? <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" />

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#86797 - 01/11/08 08:15 AM Re: Solo hiking [Re: JAK]
JAK Offline
member

Registered: 03/19/04
Posts: 2569
I do almost all of my hiking solo since my friends growing up are all moved away. I like to do day trips with just about any friend I can talk into it, but pretty much the only one that I will take or will go with me on an overnight trip is myself and my daughter. She is an excellent hiking budy. Haven't done anything overnight in winter with her yet. When I take her with me it is always to places I have already been. I have a few risky solo adventures behind me and ahead of me still, but its all relative. I would like to solo kayak to Isle Haute on the Bay of Fundy some day, straight across from New Brunswick rather than from the Nova Scotia side. I don't know why. I've never been there.

Not my video but here it is.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qZtgL7AUW2o

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#86798 - 01/11/08 11:08 AM Re: Solo hiking [Re: ringtail]
aimless Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2860
Loc: Portland, OR
Solo = danger is a myth.

That's maybe 95% correct, but as wandering daisy pointed out, there are situations where a hiking partner could save your life. The situation of being pinned by a very large, shifting rock can be deadly. If you choose to enter a boulder field, solo, far from a trail, then you might die there. Yet, I take that risk sometimes. I just know that it is a risk and do as much as I can to stay alert.

Entering hypothermia when solo is much more likely to be deadly than if you become hypothermic with an experienced hiking partner with you. That's the plain truth. That is why I take excessive pains to avoid hypothermia when I'm solo. I probably fear it more than any other backcountry killer.

So, it depends on the myth. Some kinds of solo danger are more dangerous than others.

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#86799 - 01/11/08 02:37 PM Re: Solo hiking [Re: billk]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
Don't forget what Pat Benatar said about clone names and clone games... <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />
Jim <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/cool.gif" alt="" />
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#86800 - 01/11/08 02:40 PM Re: Solo hiking [Re: JAK]
Pika Offline
member

Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 1736
Loc: Rural Southeast Arizona
Yeah, still learning. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
_________________________
May I walk in beauty.

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#86801 - 01/11/08 04:07 PM Re: Solo hiking [Re: Pika]
Earthling Offline
member

Registered: 02/22/03
Posts: 3228
Loc: USA

Aimless I agree, the greatest solo hiking danger out there is hypothermia <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/frown.gif" alt="" /> And I too gaurd against it at every turn of the trail during a hike.

I still say that's what did in that fellow who was on the Ozark Trail a month back IMO.

I relate to Pika's views, trailrunners', WD's et al It's the reasons that I do and don't hike with others. A point to be made that another could go for help is ok; but the 'other' has to be able to go it alone <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smirk.gif" alt="" />

I remember the guy in the Wind Rivers WD, he was a preacher, and it was a very poignant story that i still have a copy of today......in my papers somewhere. Though I re-read it before each solo trip <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" />

In the end you have to decide what your skill set is, and where you are heading with it before going alone IME. I'm not bashful to entertain the thought of taking someone familiar with the area I'm headed to if I have any doubts.
_________________________
PEPPER SPRAY AIN'T BRAINS IN A CAN!

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#86802 - 01/12/08 04:05 PM Re: Solo hiking [Re: Earthling]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada


I'm probably more in agreement with food. The biggest thing I find is that when I'm alone
I hike at my own pace and nobody else's - I don't fret that my pace will not be good for them
or make them have a bad trip. I don't spend time worrying about if they have their fecal materiel adequately conglomerated so I don't have to worry about them. All that combines to stress free enjoyment for me, and I don't have to end up doing something stupid and dangerous like grid searching patches of bush at night looking for a greenhorn.. Realisticly, I'm not worried about myself, I'm experienced enough to know I've always got with me what I need to stay alive, and not get hypothermic. Frankly, the only thing that's gonna kill me is a serious accident like a fall, freak avalanche (I don't to serious avy country solo), rockslide, or I keel over and die from a heart attack or other "natural" causes. Frankly when it gets down
to that since I don't fret about driving my car on the highway, I don't worry about it. It doesn't mean I don't buckle my seat belt in the car, and doesn't mean I don't take appropriate safety gear with me. but it doesn't keep me from going out.
_________________________
Any fool can be uncomfortable...
My 3 season gear list
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#86803 - 01/12/08 04:07 PM Re: Solo hiking [Re: phat]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada

I suppose I should qualify that, with a bit of elitist snobbery - should inexperienced hikers go out solo - probably not extensively - and when you start keep in appropriate "bailing" distance from civilization until you can honestly say you are "experienced".. it's that word a lot more than what you're carrying that keeps you safe.
_________________________
Any fool can be uncomfortable...
My 3 season gear list
Winter list.
Browse my pictures


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#86804 - 01/12/08 08:21 PM Re: Solo hiking [Re: phat]
oldranger Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/07
Posts: 1735
Loc: California (southern)
In my SAR experience, the common denominator for victims was inexperience, whether solo or in a group. There is no substitute for knowledge.

Beware the individual with all shiny, new equipment <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

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#86805 - 01/13/08 09:14 AM Re: Solo hiking [Re: oldranger]
hikerduane Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/03
Posts: 2123
Loc: Meadow Valley, CA
I agree with earlier posters, if I had to wait for someone elses schedule to match mine I would never get out. My grandmother, when she was alive, always told me I shouldn't be going by myself, now my mom is the same sometimes. Also, I am little bit of a redneck and they don't go hiking. My location/education/interests/personality put me in the position of going solo quite often. I have a few big boy toys, so once again, my scattered interests dictate what I can do with others. I have to adjust my priorities to include others. If you take into account what percentage of the population goes bping/hiking, add in where I live away from population centers and those folks interests/perceptions, mix with my country leanings and non-pc mind set and you have few people that are compatible with me. With that said, this last year, half of my bp trips were in groups as I was invited along on trips, mostly with single ladies. I must have messed up somewhere, ladies inviting me for a weekend trip? A different year for me for sure. This new year has started the same, they must be desperate for bodies to go with, or at my age now, I am just "safe"?

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#86806 - 01/13/08 10:50 AM Re: Solo hiking [Re: hikerduane]
aimless Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2860
Loc: Portland, OR
You? Safe? Well, it seems they know you better than you think. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/laugh.gif" alt="" />

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#86807 - 01/13/08 07:15 PM Re: Solo hiking [Re: aimless]
hikerduane Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/03
Posts: 2123
Loc: Meadow Valley, CA
Maybe they are waiting to spring something on me. I was invited by two married ladies who are organizing a trip in two weeks to Yosemite from a small bp group I belong to. I must be safer than I thought. They didn't mention if their husbands were coming or how many others. Boohoohaha! Where is my chainsaw and handcuffs?:)

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#86808 - 01/14/08 08:45 AM Re: Solo hiking [Re: hikerduane]
Xelif Offline
member

Registered: 07/04/07
Posts: 241
Loc: Bay Area, California, USA
Nah, more likely the poor hiker's fate in Georgia has them scared. Better to invite a married guy and have someone around... I bet that's what they are thinking.
_________________________
- John

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#86809 - 01/14/08 09:34 AM Re: Solo hiking [Re: hikerduane]
ringtail Offline
member

Registered: 08/22/02
Posts: 2296
Loc: Colorado Rockies
hikerduane,

I feel your pain. It is a real blow to the ego when you realize that women think you are "safe". <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/shocked.gif" alt="" />

I carry a couple of nutrition bars in my pack for emergencies. They are "safe" because I would never eat them unless I was starving.

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#86810 - 01/14/08 02:37 PM Re: Solo hiking [Re: hikerduane]
Woodlandfey Offline
newbie

Registered: 01/10/08
Posts: 11
Loc: Illinois
These are very good posts! I have hiked with others and since I'm a slow hiker, I don't do well with others. I used to hike in the Sierra's a lot and always went with my ex and well, we never seemed to have any problems. I now go solo and I'm lovin' it. I, too get to a place mentally or spiritually either one, that I am so focused on my journey and I am not really fit company for anyone. I like my solitude and actually I'd rather take my dog than anyone else. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/tongue.gif" alt="" />

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#86811 - 01/14/08 07:14 PM Re: Solo hiking [Re: ringtail]
hikerduane Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/03
Posts: 2123
Loc: Meadow Valley, CA
food, what ego? I know my place and I'm not even married.:) Most solo trips, the gals are always headed the other way.

I do miss my dog, Pooch. Passed away about 4-5 years ago on 01/11/02 or 03? Some of the places I get myself into, Pooch was just enough company, experienced bp dog, some of the places he came along with me were a little scary. With Pooch along, I never worried much about bears. For a mellow, yellow lab X, he always alerted me to bears by camp or at home getting into my garbage. Rangers said years ago that a dog wouldn't keep a bear away anymore. I never got to test that theory, but then, we never had bears come around at night either. On the trail in the morning maybe but not at night.

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#86812 - 01/14/08 08:06 PM Re: Solo hiking [Re: oldranger]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
Quote:
In my SAR experience, the common denominator for victims was inexperience, whether solo or in a group. There is no substitute for knowledge.

Beware the individual with all shiny, new equipment <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />


I think there is more truth to that than we think. At least when I was doing dive tours, I knew that the certified divers had some kind of training, but even then, a few of them really had no clue what they were doing.
_________________________
Don't get me started, you know how I get.

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