I know this is an old post so I'm not sure if it's read by the original poster and I hope that you are dealing with that fear.
There is an acronym that I live by when it comes to fear.
False Emotions Appearing Real
I was plagued with fears and they ran my life. I like to put fear in the class of stealing. It is fear that can rob me of happiness.
Now it is understandable to have concerns for personal safety when on the trail. I have found websites that have hiking and/or trail running clubs that have members all over the place and probably in your area. If you don't feel comfortable alone on the trail, you can meet people that have the same interests as you and can hike with others. Safety in numbers.
Don't ever let fear keep you from doing something that you enjoy. I replaced the nasty f-word fear with another f-word, Faith.
"Let's not miss the beauty of the forest by the ugliness of some of its trees." Bill W.
Loc: Seattle, WA & Tempe, AZ & Fort...
Wow, You sure got a LOT of advice about guns! (Just so you know, in backcountry you are in a close-quarter combat situation in which a knife is more effective than a firearm)
Hike with friends! Or your dog, but you don't have to. Make sure that you don't look vunerable because that is the cue for attackers. They don't pick the hardest target. You want to look like you have a lifeline and a defense. Bring a whistle and sound it if you are suspicious, three times in an emergency.
Loc: Fredericksburg, VA
To all of those who say that guns are no good for self-defense, or at least self-defense in close quarters combat, I beg to differ.
I used a concealed revolver to save my life earlier this year. A street thug grabbed my collar, pushed a gun in my abdomen, and demanded that I empty my pockets, I said "you got it," reached into my pockets as if to comply with his demand, and pulled out my revolver and shot him in the abdomen. It was quite apparent that he would have shot me if I had complied with his demand, so that there would be no witnesses to his crime. He survived and is now in prison. I have no military experiece, though I do like guns a lot and practice with them. I have no doubt that he would have shot me if I emptied my pockets for him, and that I would be DEAD if not for my legally owned revolver.
Granted, this was an urban situation, but I fail to see why one can claim, a priori, that a gun will NEVER do any good in a backpacking situation. Guns are life savers for law abiding citizens. Granted, guns are not a panacea that will save an innocent person's life in EVERY situation, but why limit one's odds of survival by refusing to carry one? Just because there are scenarios whereby one will not prevail, it still makes sense to carry a gun because there are plenty of situations where a gun will save even a novice's life. The only requirement is that the individual know basic gun safety, something that anyone non-mentally retarded person above the age of 10 or so should be able to manage. As long as one knows basic gun safety, then the positives of carrying a gun while backpacking will always outweigh the negatives of doing so.
Even if a gun would allow a given novice to save his/her life in only 1% of life-threatening backpacking situations, carrying a gun is worth it, because human life is precious; it's not as if the danger of the novice accidentally shooting himself/herself is SO great that it actually outweighs the benefit from the aforementioned 1% of situations (or however much it actually is). Whatever the probability of accidentally shooting one's self or one's companion is, it is much, much lower than the probability that the gun could successfully save lives during the trip.
There are so many situations where you're essentially a goner if you don't have a gun on you, and in my humble opinion, that is tragic. Why walk into a death trap? I do not think that people with an anti-gun political bias should tell someone not to bring a gun while backpacking, because human life is more important than political agendas.
I may come off as very opinionated on this issue, especially for my first post here, but as a law-abiding citizen who would be dead right now if not for a legally-owned gun, I feel very strongly about this issue, especially when people tell other people not to carry a gun to protect their lives.
You make some good points. On the same vein, more people in the outdoors are killed by falling or drowning than by assault by a person (I'm guessing), so on top of a gun I'm now going to wear a lifejacket and a parachute. Sure they're heavy, but if they have just 1% chance of saving my life, then they're worth it.
One question though: do they make lifejackets that fit comfortably over my kevlar vest?
For the record, my objection is not political. I'm by no means anti-gun... I own a gun (rifle), though it has been a long long time since I've shot it.
My objection to guns for "self defense" is that it is a subjugation of one's safety if that is the only tool you have to defend yourself. If you're comfortable and practiced with guns, then by all means, carry one if you're so inclined. But don't go out and buy a gun out of fear... that could be a recipe for disaster.
Please be careful about making assumptions about the nature of people's objections to guns.
YMMV. Viewer discretion is advised.
Just so you know, in backcountry you are in a close-quarter combat situation in which a knife is more effective than a firearm)
I wouldn't bet my life on this. A gun can be easy to use with a bit of range time. Using a knife in a hostile situation can make things from bad to worse.
A 38ACP pocket pistol will do its job at a distance. With a knife you need to be too close for comfort especially if you cannot physically stop a attacker without a knife, the knife is just a liability that will be used against you if the attacker can over power you weather or not you manage to slash him a couple times.
If a person was going to assualt someone, wouldn't they be like, Oh! hi there, nice day. And then grab the person at the last minute? If you could get to a knife and not have it taken from you, you could go for vital areas. Some training first would be helpfull along with confidence.