Home Backpacking Solo


by Lisa

Earlier this month I listened to the one of the recent episodes of the She Explores Podcast. I really enjoy listening to this podcast. It focuses on women exploring the outdoors on their own terms. The episode was called Solo (But not quite alone). The host invited listeners to submit their own stories of going it alone. The why, the how, and what they learn from the experience. Listening to the women share their tales got me thinking about my reasons for taking on adventures all by myself.

As a woman hiking, camping, and backpacking by myself I often get asked  “You’re going alone?” This question is usually said in an incredulous voice. Yes, I do. “But aren’t you scared?” No, I’m not afraid. In fact, I’m free.

First of all, if I had absolute control and choice in these scenarios, I probably wouldn’t be backpacking solo. I’d absolutely love to have my husband or a friend with me on these adventures. However my schedule is a lot freer, and some of my plans are more ambitious. I’d be putting my adventure dreams on hold if I waited for somebody to have the time or interest to hike with me. So I go. Solo.

For those who’d suggest I join a hiking group I offer this. You need to be able to trust and know your hiking partners, especially when going on overnight trips. It’s a surprisingly intimate relationship and so I’m cautious about inviting a stranger along with me. Hiking in a group also requires a certain amount of negotiation and lots of communication. By going solo I’m freed from that.

I don’t get to be in a lot of photos but sometimes my gear does!

Freedom is an elusive thing in our modern world. So much is regulated, negotiated, expected, or demanded. When I step out on trail I get to set the schedule. I get to decide when to take a break, when to eat, when to sleep. Of course it also means I’m responsible for all the camp chores like fetching water, setting up the tent and cooking meals. However the more I go out alone, the more streamlined my routines become.

Enjoying my personalized camp set-up

On solo adventures I have a stronger sense of self-worth and confidence. I know how to take care of myself and I know when I’ve done a good job. I’m also more aware of my accomplishments. Sometimes they’re smaller, like pushing on one more mile for a nice campground or cooking myself a “gourmet” meal. Sometimes my accomplishments are summiting a peak or being social and extroverted for an evening.

Kicking back in my own no judgment zone.

Of course there are drawbacks to going it alone. I miss being able to point something interesting out or share my random thoughts. I fill that mental hole by figuring out what I’ll write for my blog. Occasionally I just want to mute out the background thought-dialogue in my head. Thankfully podcasts and audiobooks are a great distraction. Having someone to motivate me through harder sections of trail would be really nice. For those moments I keep some happy and upbeat music on my phone and I remember that my friends and family are cheering me along from home.

At the end of each day I take time to reflect and offer a bit of gratitude for my mental toughness, my athletic abilities, the kind strangers I meet and the small wonders the trail shares.

It’s nice to feel accomplished. To feel confident. To feel proud of myself. And so I go solo.

Thank goodness for timer-delay on cameras!


Kathie August 2, 2018 - 11:39 am

Lisa, I love this post about hiking Solo. I have those same thoughts and reflections, noticing the pluses and minuses of going it alone. I am learning to be my own best friend and advocate out on the trails. I love the peace, strength, and freedom that all come with miles and miles of reflective hiking alone.

Josy A August 2, 2018 - 12:47 pm

I love this post too!

I have not actually done much hiking solo. I like the idea of it, until I remember that I tend to chat the whole way… I am also still a little nervous about meeting bears, so I like having one other person to speak to/ make noise!! I am much better at going off on my own with my bike. 🙂

It’s interesting though; Back in the UK, we’d often meet solo male hikers, but far fewer solo female hikers. I love that here in Canada it is less unusual.

sheila August 2, 2018 - 6:32 pm

I am not a hiker but I do know the importance of learning to love myself. I also am quite comfortable on doing things on my own. I hope you have a wonderful time. I so enjoy getting your blogs.

Gale August 4, 2018 - 8:07 am

Thank you so much for listening to She Explores! I’m glad you enjoyed that particular episode and I’m glad you find some freedom in hiking solo 🙂

Torrey August 23, 2018 - 10:07 am

Aloha Solo Hummingbird awesome hiker…… great post. So very true all you say. I hope it inspires others to go it solo. Very empowering. Great to meet you and spend some evenings together. Can’t wait to see you in Molokai this winter. Tim and I already plotting for next summer!! Meanwhile I will continue to live life on Island Time

19 for 2019 - Resolutions? No thanks. Goals? You bet. January 1, 2019 - 9:16 am

[…] to build my skills and my confidence. My friend West Coast Hiker Girl wrote a great post about why she goes solo, and I’ll be turning to her for inspiration and […]


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