While hiking with a group is ultimately safer, sometimes you feel the need to get away from it all and tackle the trail or experience the wilderness on your own.
The experience of hiking alone can be absolutely magical as long as you plan for safety.
Here are seven tips for hiking alone in safety:
Your desire for solitude may try to convince you to choose the trail that is far off the beaten path, but this can turn into a very dangerous situation if you are injured or have another medical problem. Select a trail that is well known, well-marked and well used instead.
The most important thing, when hiking alone, is to always stay on the trail, so it helps to choose one that is easy to follow. Jotting down trail markers you passed, using GPS or even taking photos of the trail junctions can help you stay on the path.
Popular trails are usually maintained and therefore safer than ones that nobody visits. This ensures that the trail marked on the map is the same one you will find when you head off into the woods.
Abandoned or unmaintained trails could have been washed out or affected by downed trees or rock slides. While you may desire to be alone, seeing other people on the trail will only be momentary disruptions.
Everyone is out there to enjoy nature and to get exercise, not chat by the side of the trail.
Never head out for a solo hike without first checking the weather report. Because hiking alone carries more potential danger, it's a good idea to schedule yours when the weather is optimum.
If you decide to go out when there is a chance of rain, carry a waterproof jacket or poncho with you.
Also, pay attention to what other hikers on the trail are doing. If you see people coming back the other way with raincoats and hats on, you might want to turn around and head back to your car and try another day.
Exact Plans and Route
If you are injured, suffer a medical emergency or get lost on the trail, it is vitally important that someone knows exactly where you are. Before you head out, tell a friend or family member the trail you will be on and how long you expect to be gone.
Pack for the Unexpected
It is always better to be safe than sorry. If you are injured or get lost, or if the weather turns foul or you just go slower than expected, you might find yourself on the trail for longer than planned.
Respect Your Limitations
Solo hikes are not the time to challenge yourself physically. Be honest about your fitness level and capabilities when you head out on the trail.
It is a good idea to test yourself with an easy group hike or walk around your neighborhood first. Not only will this allow you to pick a trail that is suitable for you, but it will also allow you to make an appropriate judgment about how long each hike will take.
Going alone into the wilderness can, unfortunately, carry more danger than poison ivy, insect bites, and sprained ankles. Trust your instincts and be aware of your surroundings and the other people you may pass on the trail. Is time passing more quickly than you expected?
Turn around before you get stuck on the trail overnight. Did another hiker make eye contact with me? If you get the feeling that something is wrong, it is a good idea to head back to your car immediately.
Be more responsible when traveling solo, so keep the body warm, keep the blood sugar up, and stay well-hydrated.