Hiking Alone {or not}

For as long as I’ve lived in the Rocky Mountains, I have loved hiking. It’s been a way to get to know the region, understand the landscape, appreciate the wildlife and foliage, and find humility in something greater than yourself.

There have been times that I’ve longed to hike, and have headed out alone. But my instinct is to be a bit more on edge when I’m alone in the mountains, whether it be a half mile from another human or more. So the question remains:  Do you hike alone?

I did a very small {read: unofficial} survey with other Girls of a Feather on whether or not they venture out alone into the big old woods. Do you hike alone? If so, what motivates you to head out solo? And if not, why not? Here are a variety of responses that I’ve collected.

Thank you, my Girls of a Feather, for helping widen our perspective on this quiet, but constant question. And cheers to hiking… alone or not!

Hiking Alone 1 - Girls of a Feather

“I have a very healthy fear of bears (although I’ve been told cats are more likely to stalk and pounce). I love the outdoors and our mountain surroundings, but I don’t hike alone and am more mindful of bringing bear spray and making noise, especially if we’re in a wooded area. Honestly, I would love to see more of the back country (not alone!), and we’ve been invited to backpack in {in the wilderness} several times, but that healthy fear always crops up. I think I need desensitization therapy so I can fully enjoy my gorgeous surroundings!”  -D.

“I’m guilty of trail running alone. My go-to trail is usually well-traveled with walkers, hikers, & other runners. But over the years I’ve seen one black bear way off the trail and a rattlesnake. I don’t care to see a mountain lion but I know they’ve seen me. This past year my husband was trail running at 6am before work and saw a mountain lion. He cut his run short. I would love to run with a friend but sometimes it easier to go alone. I don’t think I could run alone if we had grizzly bears {in our area}.”  -M.

“I haven’t done much hiking…have never gone alone. My last hike was with my daughter {at a nearby state park}, and I don’t know if she could have protected me from a bear! Maybe I should be more scared than I am. I should probably do more hiking!”  -E.

“I don’t hike too much on my own but if I do I stick to the open hills and valley trails. Mountain lions freak me out. Beautiful but so very stealthy!”  -R.

“I don’t hike alone – bears, mountain lions – yikes! We’ve also come across transients. Bear spray, whistle, GPS, and my Mountain Man… I go with the notion they’ll protect me from anything.”  -M.

“I have hiked a lot alone… I love it. I have an unhealthy sense of invincibility when I’m out in the woods alone (probably why I’m attracted to it), but a hefty fear of bears. It doesn’t make sense I know, but when it all shakes out, most things don’t in my head. I used to hike alone a lot in college, did it a ton after I had {my first child}, and would love to still with my kids although they protest heavily these days, which deters me.”  -L.

“I don’t mind being alone, but I do not ever hike alone for a couple of reasons: 1. I’m the biggest scaredy cat ever! 2. My sense of direction is horrible. A knee injury crippled me during a mountain race last year, forcing me to hobble 4.5 miles to the finish pretty much all alone in the middle of nowhere. I was terrified of what might jump out and get me.”  -A.

“I do a lot of trail running and usually go with friends and my dog. Probably a false sense of security with my dog. I was running way up {in the woods} two weeks ago and saw 2 moose about 20 yards away from us. Yikes! Thank goodness I had friends with me, it would have been a different story if I was by myself. I should carry bear spray but don’t!”  -S.

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