What does it really mean by hiking alone? There are only a few things that could be better than hiking on nature trails. It is indeed justly fantastic to witness the sights and heed to the sounds of nature that you get to experience away from the bustling urban life, that is worth the time and exertion. Each individual has his or her own personal preference, either to hike solo and enjoy the solitude, or join with friends and family to relish their company. Well, what’s your choice? Hiking alone is definitely quite an adventure for some and may not be for others. Before heading out off on your first solo quest, there are impending considerations that ring a bell in your head about the possible dangers prowling on the trails. Despite offering bundles of startling reminiscences, unaccompanied ventures do have their fair share of advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages Of Hiking Alone
1. Hike at your convenience, hike on your own schedule:
This one’s got to be your biggest plus side when hiking alone; you begin at your convenient time and stop whenever you wish to. There are no hard-and-fast rules to comply with, with someone else’s time frame. There is nothing to compromise about. If you are an early riser, you could hit the trails as early as you wish and avoid the crowds, or it could be the other way round. Early morning hikes proffer better lighting for photography fanatics than in the afternoons. Hiking with a companion or small groups, you are obliged to take their schedule into consideration as they might want to sleep longer and start off a bit later.
2. Hike at a pace that suits you:
Hiking alone will give you the liberty to have your own pace at which you are the most comfortable. Going as fast or as slow, there is no need for negotiating your pace with anybody else. No concerns about slowing someone down when you make a stop and later rush to catch up, and no worries when you walk pretty much briskly. Take all things at your own rate of knots and embellish your solo hiking experience.
3. Be responsible for yourself; no judgments, no comparisons, no onlookers to any false moves:
Hiking alone means worrying only about yourself without the need of keeping an eye on others. You are aware of your capabilities and know whatever you can or cannot handle on a hike. On the contrary, if you are with a group or a companion, you are obliged to check about their wellness or that they don’t get mislaid. In addition, you may have to consider their level of fitness, trepidations or their dexterities. If you are hiking with juniors, you need to check if they are eating and drinking adequately or not. Going solo means nothing to care about how you look or smell and no worries about sleeping at your convenient teahouse or lodge. Another merit while going solo is there is no one to witness any blunders that you make. You may stumble, miss a turn, swerve from the main trail, misread directions or change your plans but the good thing is that you are the sole decision maker and no one is present to criticize your decisions.
4. Better opportunities for wildlife encounters and getting connected with nature:
Hiking alone increases the chances to see some wildlife rather than walking together with a loud group. Just you walking at your own pace quietly would definitely not startle an animal off from nearby. It is a fact that animals in the wild prefer staying detached and away from humans, so group hiking narrows the possibilities of close encounters with them. However, hiking alone does not guarantee to bump into the wildlife arena always; it’s just a twofold chance that perhaps you might. For some, being on a solo hike lets them get connected with nature and free their minds of redundant thoughts. They feel more peaceful in the wilderness and enjoy the tranquil environment being just with themselves, the nature, and the reverberations around them. It provides time to meditate or mull over and go yawning into old memoirs or simply jump from one thing to another uncontrollably.
5. Easier to get to know other hikers on the trail:
Whether you hike alone or in a group, you will certainly meet other fellow hikers on the trail but it is actually easier to get to know new people when you are on a solo mission. During solo hikes, it is more likely for other lone hikers to approach you or the other way round. Groups tend to stick together and it is quite unsuitable for you to strike a conversation with someone from the group. However, when you meet a solo hiker on the trailhead, it is obviously easier to start up a chat with him or her and for apparent reasons they would seem more obliging and responsive.
Disadvantages Of Hiking Alone
1. Issues of personal safety:
Hiking alone, on one hand, is a great experience while on the other hand, your safety is definitely an issue to be given a thought. Lone hikers may be attacked or robbed of their valuables by some insurgents waiting on desolate trails. Or else, if you get injured during the hike, you are on your own – you have no one to lend a helping hand. If there is an uncanny sound in the wilderness, you have no one to check it and no one to pacify you. When everything goes wrong like you getting tired, weather getting spiteful or your feet getting vicious blisters, you don’t have a friend to cheer you up or motivate you. In spite of preparing well for the trip and having good gears and equipment, you may still get hurt by tripping over or slipping in some muddy trails. Anything could happen including spraining an ankle or losing consciousness. Hiking with a companion would prove very valuable in cases like these.
2. You are all on your own:
Right from carrying all the stuff and doing all the chores alone, hiking alone prompts you to make all the decisions on your own – some decisions could possibly be bad decisions, but no one is there to be blamed except you. If you forget to carry something or lose something on the way, you have no companion to borrow from. If you are not sure about the trail, there is no one to turn to except the vague map. Even though it is a good thing to be fully engrossed in nature, but when you stumble upon something genuinely outstanding, you will have no one to share your splendid encounter.
3. Higher chances of getting lost:
As a solo hiker, there are higher possibilities of getting lost on the trail. What if your map is sporadic? What if your compass or GPS system breaks down or malfunctions? You could possibly end up on the wrong route leading you to the wrong destination. When in a group, there is always a chance to navigate the correct path in case you do get lost – there are more options as there is a whole group of hikers.
4. Slightly higher expenses:
Traveling alone could be more expensive especially when it comes to secluded places like the countryside, mountains and hiker’s destinations. Most lodges or teahouses on the hiking trails usually don’t have single rooms as they are designed and built in accordance with the needs of group travelers. So, when you are a solo hiker, you need to pay for the accommodation for a double room as a single supplementary charge and occupy it all for yourself. Similarly, transportation could be another issue if you don’t wish to travel on a public vehicle to the starting point of your hike. When in a group, the transportation cost would be split among other hikers which will bring down the cost. Thus, hiking alone would definitely bring up your traveling expenses by a certain extent.
5. No help and possibility of loneliness:
Getting injured is one issue when you hike alone where it is only you who has to rally round to your injuries and recoil back to safety. There could be other psychological issues that leave you hapless and helpless such as getting frightened, feeling exhausted or getting turned off and cynical. People have phobias of all sorts – what if you are scared of heights and there is a high pass to ramble alone? These issues could potentially make you change your mind to give up and turn back, but when you have a companion or a group, there always is someone to motivate and cheer you up to finish the race! For people especially extroverts, hiking alone could cause them to feel lonely during the course of their trip. There are lots of people who are not very contented and comfy being alone, so it is a good endeavor for them to get used to being on their own prior to kicking off on a solo quest.
6. The possibility of bad wildlife encounters:
Despite getting ample opportunities to encounter various wildlife species during your solo hike, a bad experience with them should not be overlooked. It isn’t a matter of your preparedness or your loudness, but when in the wilderness there is always a possibility to bump into different wild animal showground that could attack and harm you. When hiking with a group, there is a probability of the fierce animal to retrace and flee from the spot.