I read quite a bit about hiking and backpacking. Um…yeah. That’s how this aspirational section hiker learns. I tend to gravitate towards hiking blogs and journals, and read thru-hiking books when one catches my fancy.
And I will, on occasion, see a local news story online about hiking basics or some such topic, and I’ll give them my readership out of curiosity. This past week I saw two articles, in two different online newspapers, in two different states dealing with the topic of enjoying hiking. And both, to my surprise? chagrin? put on their respective lists, “Don’t hike alone”.
That’s anathema to me. As a solo runner, I always appreciate my time alone, pounding the pavement or slipping through the trees. Ditto hiking. Granted, I’m not against hiking with a small group of others or with a partner, as my two most recent hikes suggest. But I’ve always preferred the thought-provoking solitude and flexibility of pace provided by solo hikes, even when I was just beginning. Shoot, my first hike was a solitary six miles into the rugged-for-a-newbie Hundred Mile Wilderness on the AT. Admittedly, I was well prepared from a physical and equipment standpoint, thanks to trail running and a fanatical desire to read everything in sight about a topic of interest. I had my ten essentials. I had extra water and food. I had Permethrin soaked clothing and appropriate shoes.
Maybe these two reporters just decided to err on the side of caution? Not everyone is in post-marathon shape like yours truly. Or prepares so diligently for the simplest of hikes (See: Mother and daughter survive hiking ordeal in New Zealand). Maybe they fear injury, or attack by domestic two-legged or wild four-legged animals. Still, when an emphatic “Don’t hike alone!” makes the list, I feel for those who will take that completely to heart and never experience the joy of the solo hike.
To each his or her own. HYOH (Hike Your Own Hike). However, unless I have an incident that sours me on the idea, or I specifically ask someone to go along, I’ll continue to hike alone…