The Bliss I find in Solo Hikes.

 

1493361_10202810260993578_37607114_oAs a woman I’m often asked  if I’m afraid to hike alone and  why I like to solo hike, the answer is both simple and complex. I hike alone for the serenity and quiet of the journey, and being afraid doesn’t come into play because I’m a woman. Being out in nature allows me the time to contemplate my next move. When I hike with others, I’m too focused on being in the conversation and keeping up with the group, and it doesn’t allow me the time to slow down and focus on my thoughts.

Nature offers something that being indoors simply can’t. It is motivating to walk among the trees and tramp along the trails, focusing on nothing more than the path ahead. You notice the shape of broken tree branches, how a blade of grass reacts to the wind flowing through it, and how clouds form into shapes and images. You hear the various bird chirps and identify them by their distinct sounds. It is magical to be out in nature alone, noticing everything you miss when you’re in a group.

Solo hikes allow me the time to stop and jot down my thoughts and set priorities for the week ahead, but it is also my time to exhale from all the phone calls, planning, and complexities of the world around me. No other space offers me what being out in nature does. It’s my reward for not losing my way and giving in to the constant badgering of a world that expects you to conform to its expectations. Nature doesn’t take notice of your gender, your race, your abilities, or your faults. The only thing that matters is that you leave the space as you find it.
IMG_5242I often refer to wild spaces as my cathedral–not in a religious way, but in a spiritual sense–my place to lay my burdens down. Being in nature provides me with a way to connect to something greater than myself, nonjudgmental and welcoming to all.

Have you ever walked the valley floor of Yosemite, or stood on the edge of the Grand Canyon, alone? I invite you to try it. It’s amazing how you can  feel so small in these spaces, so insignificant compared to the beauty and grandness that surrounds you. There is something invigorating about feeling the oneness in the wild spaces that surround you and encompass you completely. There you stand, completely vulnerable to the elements around you, yet you feel at peace in the serenity of it all.

Nature is a bridge between the hustle and bustle of our daily lives and the world we long for when we are caught up in a whirlwind of appointments and commitments. It provides the flip side of confusion, a space where we can be still and in tune with ourselves, almost a tunnel vision.

f94821ca-e638-42aa-871f-bb5fb4909cdaFor me, solo hikes are one of life’s necessities, sustenance for the soul, an energizing moment to get away from all the electronic gadgets and the demands on my time. Solo hikes are more than just time away from the congestion of the city; they are my time, how I choose to live my life, how I choose to break away from all the confinements that a 9 to 5 life requires.

I am unapologetic for my love of solo hikes. Some may see it as being an introvert or anti-social, but it is actually empowering to be so strong willed as to embrace the beauty and wonder in being off on your own, in spaces that you may be in for the first time, learning your way as you go, being unafraid to travel a new path or to experience life in the wilderness. I encourage you to find that path, that outdoor space that brings you to the brink of tears, as you gaze out at its beauty. The wonderment of nature is there for all to see; just remember, it’s ok to travel it alone.

 

 

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13 thoughts on “The Bliss I find in Solo Hikes.

  1. Thank you for sharing. I feel much the same way as you as I love hiking solo.
    I’m planning a solo overnight backpacking trip for the first time and it’s so deep to watch how many old beliefs I had about what I can and can’t do and a black woman . How many fears were implanted in me to block me of growth and freedom .
    Have you been backpacking overnight solo? Any thoughts or wisdom for a young black woman on her first trip ?

    • Hi Medina. I have camped out by myself, but I’ve not backpacked in. If you have camped before you know what to expect, but if this is your first camping trip, I would suggest reaching out to REI to take a course on camping. Depending on where you are in the country, there’s a bay area group called BAWT, they offer courses in front country and back country camping. More important than anything is to not take risks, know your limits and don’t push them. Always let someone know where you plan on hiking/camping and a time frame. You can reach me by email at tmbaker1165@gmail.com.

      Teresa

      • I’m a white man, but I found this writing to be spot on! I spend most of my time alone in the wilderness. For all the reasons you mentioned here. I’ve done 6 day backpacking trips solo, and only come across a handful of people which is amazing! Do not fear the unknown! A couple of days without speaking to another person can do wonders for your sense of self. I always find that when I return from these solo trips, I’m the person I’m supposed to be. Take the proper precautions with your food and supplies, and there is nothing to worry about or be afraid of. You’ll find yourself connecting with wildlife in ways you never thought possible. Get out there and do it!

  2. Wow, it’s amazing that I have expressed these same feelings to fellow hikers while group hiking. I enjoy seeing others experience a hike for the first time, but solo hiking is such a personal and spiritual experience like no other. Thanks for a great article that I will be sharing with friends.

  3. I applaud you for being able to hike alone. I am trying myself to do more of that, but I struggle with courage. I’m not necessarily scared of other people, but animals. Silly right? I’m pretty skittish for a ranger. lol.

    • Not silly at all, Kaiti. I am not without concerns when I’m out on my hikes. For me it’s a matter of doing research on the area, reaching out to park staff to find out the best trails to travel for a first time hiker on the trails. It’s all about preparing as best you can, we can’t prepare for everything, but knowing what is common to the area has been a big help in my mental preparations. Go for it.

  4. You say it all so beautifully. .exactly how I feel.. I love all aspects of the journey., from planning and researching to the time my head hits my pillow after my hike.

  5. You said it perfectly! A chance to slow down and really take in the surroundings, views, and minutia of nature. It is liberating and empowering, especially for women who are taught that going it alone isn’t safe. I worked in the law enforcement field as a non-sworn for years and was hesitant to go it alone. I finally found a group of women that I could day hike with, which I did for several years, but I found I wanted to go more often than I could find a companion. So, I finally did it myself, hiking a well used portion of the PCT. Day hiking with others helped me to gain confidence in my abilities, so that when I was ready, I had no problems going it alone. I find women are far more cautious than men, we don’t overtest our abiliites, taking fewer risks.

    I know plan on doing segments of through hikes myself this summer, having backpacked an overnighter with my sisters last year.

  6. Thank you for putting it in words for me. There is nothing I enjoy more than a solo hike. My family is completely against it, and it all has to do with my gender. It makes no sense to me, I feel a lot safer alone in the woods than the city. I will continue solo hiking and continue encouraging people to go out alone and discover themselves.

  7. “No other space offers me what being out in nature does. It’s my reward for not losing my way and giving in to the constant badgering of a world that expects you to conform to its expectations. Nature doesn’t take notice of your gender, your race, your abilities, or your faults. The only thing that matters is that you leave the space as you find it.”

    Yes, this statement resonants with me so strongly esp. As a woman of color. I always tell myself the wildlife sanctuaries I go to are sanctuaries for me, too! I’m so grateful there are these quiet safe spots in nature near me where I can just be myself like all the animals and plant life around me are.

    there is no judgment, no feeling of exclusion or difference but rather quite the opposite. Connectedness, respect and inclusion; I’m right where I’m supposed to be- a part of this world and all its creatures.

    Thanks for sharing your sentiments and joy of hiking solo. Many more women / people of color ought to feel like they can do this, and actually do it! Perhaps starting out in trails that are popular and usually other people are around may help. But certainly sharing your experiences here is a wonderful gift too!

    One national park hike I did alone partially was at olympic national park; I started out with a travel companion but we didn’t last (long story) so I found myself having to reroute plans and hike alone. But it was totally fine! Have you been there? The lush forest and ocean views in that area are so breathtaking.

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