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Re: new

Postby dave54 » Sun Aug 15, 2010 9:00 pm

I used to frequently go solo off trail. Not much anymore, as the legs are not what they used to be, and I became more sybaritic with age.

I enjoyed the time alone. It cleared my head, and all of life's trials and tribulations melted away. I never felt any danger or risk, as I became more cautious when alone. I was also very comfortable out wandering in the forest (in my element) -- far more comfortable than walking strange city streets alone.

If you want to try on your own I suggest start small and easy, with a single night out and back. Start on fairly well used trail. At some point along the trail turn 90 degrees and hike a quarter mile or so, then make camp (check local regs about designated camping sites and fire restrictions). Retrace your steps back to the trail the next morning. I have had some people tell me they cannot stand the solitude and the thought of being alone in the forest at night made them uncomfortable. It didn't me, but hike your own hike.
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Re: new

Postby LMBSGV » Sun Aug 15, 2010 9:43 pm

I am another one who loves going solo. I've been doing it for 13 years - ever since my wife didn't want to do to anything too gnarly any more. She's still the one person I can tolerate being with (and can also tolerate me) on wilderness trips. For me, it's an intense spiritual experience and my wife is the only person who doesn't detract from that intensity. However, when going solo you have to be able to deal with what Thoreau said is "to explore the private sea, the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean of one's being alone." You have to love listening to what the wilderness is saying and how your inner self responds.

On the more practical side of things, as others have pointed out, you need to be aware of your limitations. For instance, I never deal with class 3 terrain. Also, as I've aged, the miles-per-day I plan has lessened and I enjoy doing shorter days with lots of time to just sit in solitude and take in the grandeur around me, from the distant peaks to the tiny flowers.
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Re: new

Postby oldranger » Sun Aug 15, 2010 9:49 pm

Horhe

Welcome. As a genuine old fart I still enjoy going solo and off trail. Probably not the smartest thing but I see and feel things when alone that I don't when with others. As markskor alluded there is something about being on your own that gives you a feeling of freedom. I think it is kind of selfish. But I know many times I have experienced a sunrise or sunset or unexpected vista and thought that I wish Kathy (my wife) was with me. But when we have shared similar experiences together it is not the same. It is like we have to remark about the special nature of the experience and that somehow breaks the spell.

Don't get me wrong I love backpacking with my wife (and son and daughters and, most recently my grandchildren) and I have even been known to organize a get together with a few people on this forum and loved every minute of our time together. But being alone in the backcountry is something different and it is important for me to do. I'm looking forward to a solo trip from Agnew meadows to Tuolumne Meadows in a week and a half. But there are a few people that know what I am up to and know they are welcome to meet up with me.

My concession to age is lighter equipment, treking poles, shorter hiking days, and a spot locater to check in with my wife and kids.

Hiking alone is not for everyone. You should have some experience and have the skills and judgement to go off alone. Everyone who has responded has given you excellent advice. Do what is right for you!

mike
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Who can't do everything he used to and what he can do takes a hell of a lot longer!
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Re: new

Postby mtn.horhe » Sun Aug 15, 2010 11:01 pm

thanks for all the replies. I have done some overnight trips alone before so i am comfortable with that i just don't know if i would be comfortable being gone a week by myself because i haven't done it yet. I have decided that i am going to go for it but i will be taking the necessary precautions that many of you have listed. I feel very comfortable in the outdoors as i have been backpacking quite a few times when i was younger with Boy Scouts and with friends as well. Plus my experience from working in the Forest Service has taught me a lot. I still know i have a lot to learn and hopefully my trip by myself will be a good experience. Any suggestions for a 4 to 7 day trip that would be a good trip for what i am looking for? Thanks again.
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Re: new

Postby huts » Tue Aug 17, 2010 3:12 pm

I go alone almost all of the time now - well, I have a dog. I have been out for two weeks on the John Muir Trail (pre-dog) and had to make an effort to actually camp alone. I met my husband on that particular trip! Then I have been in some of the less used areas and not seen another soul for up to five days.

I leave an itinerary. I do hike some off trail but stay away from high risks (class three climbing, Bear Creek at full flood, Yosemite in the summer :D ) I do not carry a SPOT or other device.

I agree with much of what other have said here about the sense of freedom and the sometimes difficult aspects of pure solitude. I like backpacking with one other person but when I am with a group I feel I am missing something. It seems a short solo trip can provide me the same "cleansing" as a much longer trip with others.

I would suggest you do a 4-7 day solo that is at least in part somewhere you have been before. Maybe stay on the shorter end of those number of days to begin with. Start from a trailhead you are familiar with but take a different fork in the trail. When I go through an area I have previously visited I quickly feel at home. The places I have never been before just take a little more time.

I am headed out for a week long solo in just about 3 days.........
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Re: new

Postby quentinc » Thu Aug 19, 2010 8:33 pm

I also backpack alone all the time. While I'm not advocating this for others, I take no precautions -- no itinerary, no SPOT. I often change my mind as to my itinerary while I'm out anyway. I go over crazy off-trail passes all the time, and generally try to find areas with no one in miles. My only concession to age is to see if I can go further on the first day than I've ever gone in the past. I finally made it all the way to Darwin Bench on the first day from North Lake last weekend, and I didn't get started until 11am. (This trick been working for the past 2 years, but I know at some point the jig will be up! ;) )

And still....I'm convinced that by far the most danger I face is driving back home. (The stretch from Palmdale to LA at night is sheer terror.) Solo backpacking is a wonderful lesson in self-sufficiency.
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Re: new

Postby LMBSGV » Thu Aug 19, 2010 10:08 pm

And still....I'm convinced that by far the most danger I face is driving back home.


I quite agree. After several days in the wilderness, the behavior of drivers on suburban/urban freeways can be downright terrifying. I suspect statistically one is a lot safer alone in the wilderness than on most highways. Yet, when I go solo, I'm usually asked "aren't you scared?" Of what, I'm not sure. I usually reply, I feel safer alone in the wilderness than driving on any highway.
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Re: new

Postby Nozmo King » Fri Aug 20, 2010 1:26 pm

I’ve been backpacking for close to 30 years now. Although by nature I’m a bit of an introvert & a loner, I still prefer backpacking with a small group. IMO, it’s just more fun to be with a few close friends to share adventures & the excitement of the outdoors with than being alone. Anymore, I mostly go with one other guy, although I also do an annual trip with several other dads & our kids. That’s a big group & I feel very lucky to have been part of it – watching everyone’s kids grow up & discover the incredible thing we have in the Sierras.

It is hard to find good backpacking companions. You’re stuck together 24/7 & little annoyances that would be no big deal in everyday life can become magnified.

I do get why some folks prefer to go solo. One factor is age. I’m over 50 now & don’t have many friends my age who are physically able to go for a serious backpacking trip, let alone have the desire to put up with the inevitable grime, mosquitoes & sweat that are part of the experience. The guy I backpack with now is 16 years younger than me, but we’re almost ideal partners – hike @ about the same pace, can hike apart for part of the day without it being a problem, & we both enjoy a few strong belts, more than a few dips of tobacco, & unlimited profanity around the campfire at night.

I did try a Sierra Club trip over 20 years ago. The group was a bit too big for me, & it’s a little weird spending 9 days in the backcountry with total strangers. But, it is a great way to see some far-flung areas that you might not otherwise ever visit. And, although it didn’t work that way for me, it’s probably a good way to connect with others who love to backpack.

Good luck with whatever you choose!
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Re: new

Postby mtn.horhe » Sat Aug 21, 2010 12:04 pm

Thanks again for the replies it has really given me a lot to think about. I wont be able to go on any longer trips (3 days+) till next summer because of no available time :( but at least i will have plenty of time to plan out my trip.
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Re: new

Postby maverick » Sat Aug 21, 2010 1:12 pm

I have been going to the Sierra since the 70's, and love going solo.
The heightened sense of awareness, a sixth sense, is intoxicating to me.
Obviously being prepared physically, and mentally all make my getting back
to my wife in one piece much more likely.
All I carry is my topo for navigation, if needed, but no compass, gps, quad, spot
since when I am in the Sierra I am at home (don't tell my wife I said that!).
I become one with my environment, like when coming down a ridge I envision
my self being water so to find the path of least resistance, hope this make sense
to you.
You should slowly introduce yourself to solo trips, and then extended the
lengths of time spent out alone.
We are so conditioned to be followers, stay on the road, stay on the side walk,
stay on the trail, that going off trail is something taboo to a lot of us, it comes
with a lot of unknown, which is frightening to most folks.
Being alone is more of a mental challenge, where one's mind needs to be
conditioned to except one's inter fears.
Some one mention that they have more of a chance dying in a car accident
on the way home from the Sierra, and I agree, I would like to add that I could
not think of a better place to meet my maker than in the Sierra, if I had a choice!
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Re: new

Postby richlong8 » Fri Aug 27, 2010 7:38 am

I enjoy going alone, and don't worry about it if I am on a trail. Though I am more cautious when hiking cross country alone. One thing I think is important for me when hiking alone: don't get obsessive about saving weight. I don't cut corners too tight on weight when I am alone- I can survive an injury or illness, or bad weather, because I am packing what it takes to survive. Hiking the John Muir Trail as fast as you can, as light as you can, by yourself is different than getting back into the wilds of the Sierra alone. Both have their rewards. Have fun! Welcome.
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Re: new

Postby Baffman » Sat Aug 28, 2010 8:38 am

I am a soloist as well. Markshor's thoughts and reasons on it going it alone match mine perfectly.

A few others mentioned a SPOT or PLB. I use a SPOT. I use it mostly for the comfort of my friends and family. With the tracking feature enabled, they've said they love to see where I am, where I have been and that I am "OK." In the event that I have an emergency, I am confident that I can get help.

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