What is the definition of "Solo backpacking?" | High Sierra Topix  

What is the definition of "Solo backpacking?"

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What is the definition of "Solo backpacking?"

Postby rlown » Mon May 27, 2013 11:03 am

I'm confused by this terminology, as most TR's I read about people who like to be solo, actually have great stories about whom they meet on the trail, or even camp with.

Is it:

Self-contained?
Anti-Social?
Other?

Or do they intentionally pick places to hike they know no one else will be so they can be alone?

and yes i acknowledge that's harder and harder to find.

Russ



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Re: What is the definition of "Solo backpacking?"

Postby markskor » Mon May 27, 2013 1:16 pm

Solo Backpacking? Pardon as I wax poetic.

Having done me some serious solo hiking over the last few decades, my reasons for continuing on alone have more to do with freedom found than being anti-social, (Though both weigh heavily and come into play ). The realization that there is nobody within miles – after a day or two alone, everything from then on becomes more acute, more aware. Now more in tune with surroundings, sounds previously unheard now become cacophonic. Maybe a confidence thing comes into play here too but being self-contained, after knowing one’s abilities and trusting one’s gear, a feeling of self-reliance soon envelops – now never lonely but somehow more immersed… more at peace - solo.

This is not to say I detest company, just most of what comes along with it. Being slightly irascible and crusty, I would no more consent to sharing a tent with anyone ever again… (Well, perhaps a significant other.) Hearing the night farts and snores of anyone close somehow breaks the mood/ ruins the high/ harshes my mellow. However, having a trusted friend, that rare like-able companion along to share the glory and pain is always preferred and coincidentally, helps with the many, and typically encountered x-country route decisions needed to be made. Problem is that these type folk are almost non-existent, are already out hiking, or are too busy.

Solo hikers are a rare breed – The good ones know when to shut up. All that being said, when backpacking solo and encountering a fellow kindred spirit somewhere back-country, often a bond instantly develops – a camaraderie of equals. Mostly, this occurs when encountering solo fishermen but regardless, there is that immediate recognition of similar gear choices, confidence, and ugliness – that mischievous twinkle…Many a great story has come from such chance wilderness encounters.

Through HST, I have had the pleasure of finding a few barely-tolerable souls here who meet my criteria for worthwhile hiking companions – almost. A communal stove may be the only shared piece of equipment, if that, and everything/everyone else being totally self-contained. BTW, when hiking with others, if not family, I usually always have my own permit.

Maybe my definition of why hiking solo so appeals is the realization that you are free to walk away from anything… Been there and done it.
Mountainman who swims with trout
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Re: What is the definition of "Solo backpacking?"

Postby LMBSGV » Mon May 27, 2013 1:28 pm

To mean it means hiking and camping alone. If I meet someone on the trail, I'll say a passing "hello" or "beautiful day" and sometimes even engage in a long conversation if I like the person and they also seem interested and amenable. Most of the time, it's just the passing "hello." I never meet someone and hike with them or camp with them. To me, that defeats the purpose and appreciation of solitude. The two reasons I like going off trail are you get to be in some of the most beautiful locations in the world and there are a lot fewer people.

I do find the reactions I get from people who do not solo hike to be pretty interesting and often humorous. The shocked response is a variation on "you what??!!!," "you mean by yourself as in with no other people?" They don't understand that I feel a lot safer solo cross-country than I do on a city street or driving down the highway. They are also rather incredulous when I say I didn't see another person for 4 days and clearly consider it bizarre to want to do it, let alone enjoy it. If that is regarded as anti-social, I plead guilty.
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Re: What is the definition of "Solo backpacking?"

Postby oldranger » Mon May 27, 2013 2:26 pm

What markskor said! Though family trumps all other considerations.

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: What is the definition of "Solo backpacking?"

Postby Jimr » Mon May 27, 2013 7:53 pm

The trip is planned for one person, executed by one person. When you pass the trail head sign, you're heading out alone. That's it.
Everything else is about why one goes solo, not the definition of solo.
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Re: What is the definition of "Solo backpacking?"

Postby giantbrookie » Mon May 27, 2013 10:33 pm

I haven't done much solo backpacking, which I'd define as Mark does, whereas the solo dayhiking and mountaineering is another matter. For some reason I don't enjoy solo backpacking as much because I guess I like the companionship more at the camp and on the trail. Solo peak bagging/mountaineering/geology (as dayhikes) I like because of the sharpened senses and the like. I suppose I have the latter when solo backpacking but I miss the company more than I desire the sharpened senses thing. The only solo backpacking I remember doing was trailless (and very brushy) in the Bitterroot Wilderness (Montana) in the summer of 1980,with one failed attempt at a moderately difficult summit.
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Re: What is the definition of "Solo backpacking?"

Postby Wandering Daisy » Tue May 28, 2013 12:23 pm

I am not big on "official definitions". When I am out, I consider myself going solo if nobody is specifically walking or camping with me. For example, last summer I was primarily solo except for one day a fellow I met joined me for camping one night and the next day's travel. During that brief interval, I did not consider myself solo hiking. First day out I camped at a lake that probably four other groups were camped. I still considered myself as a solo backpacker. I want to backpack. If I can round up someone to go with me and accept my crazy agenda, then I rather have compaly. But, lately, 80% of the time, my agenda is too weird for anyone to want to participate. Now that I am retired, I prefer to go mid-week and that certainly cuts down the ablility of others to go with me. I also like long trips- not feasible for most folks. For me solo is not necessarily "better" but just different. I however, do not like to go with chatterboxes. My dear husband is the "strong silent type", thank goodness! Most of the time when I go with someone, it is him.
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Re: What is the definition of "Solo backpacking?"

Postby Wandering Daisy » Tue May 28, 2013 12:28 pm

Another twist! This summer I am going to start hiking with our dog. Am I still "solo" if my "partner" is a dog?
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Re: What is the definition of "Solo backpacking?"

Postby rlown » Tue May 28, 2013 12:52 pm

funny.. depends on the dog. is it loyal or chasing squirrels or worse, snakes?
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Re: What is the definition of "Solo backpacking?"

Postby KathyW » Tue May 28, 2013 4:21 pm

Wandering Daisy wrote:Another twist! This summer I am going to start hiking with our dog. Am I still "solo" if my "partner" is a dog?


I don't think you are solo when you are with a dog. It's different than being with another person, but it's not like being alone.
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Re: What is the definition of "Solo backpacking?"

Postby BrianF » Tue May 28, 2013 4:33 pm

If the dog is a Border Collie then you can have meaningful conversations, so it is not solo. :lol:
My take is also that is you are travelling alone it is solo, even on busy trails or sharing a lake with other campers. If, as in WD's scenario, you join up with someone for a period that would not be solo, but it is only semantics unless you have taken a vow of solitude or something, otherwise it is a backpacking trip, with or without company, nothing more. I have been doing solo trips for 40+ years, since I was 16 or 17, usually several a year, and I do not think of being solo as something unusual, just another way to enjoy the mountains. I do like the freedom and the added connection to my surroundings I feel when I am solo, being alone helps me to concentrate on the mountains rather than on conversation and another person. On the flip side, sharing the adventure/scenery/peak is fun too, just different
The vast majority of my trips are solo, because I like it that way, but I am not anti-social; if the opportunity presents itself to go with my son or a friend, I am glad to do that as well, but I need to get out there by myself sometimes.
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Re: What is the definition of "Solo backpacking?"

Postby Wandering Daisy » Wed May 29, 2013 2:44 pm

LOL. My dog IS a border collie! But she is a puppy- 11 months old now. So I guess it will be like taking one of the grandkids. I think I will spend a lot of time worrying about her until she is trained to be a really good backpack dog.
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