Spending time outdoors is an amazing way to cleanse the soul and rejuvenate the body. Hiking helps maintain fitness and allows your mind to destress while observing the beautiful wilderness around you. Most people prefer to hike in groups, whether due to social or safety preferences, but there is the option to hike solo. The big question about solo hiking is whether it is dangerous or not.
Solo hiking is not dangerous as long as you follow proper safety guidelines for outdoor hiking. Some of these are: knowing your limits, ensuring you prepare correctly, carrying a digital or paper map, notifying someone of your hiking plans, erring on the side of caution when it comes to obstacles.
Overall solo hiking is not a dangerous activity, but as with most things in life, there are always some dangers involved, and solo hiking is not immune to these. Knowing what the risks are can help prevent them from occurring or if something does happen to have some form of safety mechanisms in place to combat these issues is also a good idea.
Solo Hiking: Is It A Dangerous Activity?
Hiking out in the wilderness on your own is a refreshing and, at times, somewhat nerve-wracking activity. When it comes to solo hiking, there are concerns about whether or not it is dangerous for people, both men, and women, to hike alone instead of staying within the safety of a hiking group.
There is support for both sides, with some people insisting that it is not a dangerous activity and others saying that it is indeed hazardous to solo hike. Overall the consensus is that it is not dangerous to hike alone, and in fact, it can be a rather refreshing and self-empowering endeavor. But ensuring that you prepare correctly can mitigate some of the issues that could occur and allow you to enjoy your experience with fewer worries.
Knowing what problems can or could emerge helps you to plan appropriately. If you plan correctly and appropriately, then solo hiking should be a safe activity. At the same time, you should bear in mind that problems can arise no matter how well you plan. Therefore, to ensure that you are as safe as possible while on your solo hike, you need to implement backup plans that include outside persons.
What Are Some Of The Possible Dangers Of Solo Hiking?
Several dangers can occur when hiking, whether you are doing it alone or in a group. Although these risks can become more severe if you are alone with no one to help you or aid in decision-making. Let’s look at some of the possible dangers you might experience if solo hiking.
Animal Attacks While Solo Hiking
Animal attacks are a significant concern for most people when deciding if they will go on a solo hike. When hiking alone, you will make less noise, and therefore there is more chance of you stumbling across a wild animal and maybe even startling them into having an adverse or violent reaction against you. You are also more at risk of an animal attack because there is only one of you, and they could see you as easy prey.
Getting Hurt While Solo Hiking
Typically the rule of thumb has been to hike in groups of at least four people. If one of you gets injured, one person can stay behind with the injured person, and two others can walk for help. This rule, of course, becomes mute in cases where more than one person gets injured. When hiking solo, there is the chance that you could get hurt or fall down a hill, and there would be no one to help you or call for help.
Not Being Properly Prepared When Hiking Solo
If you are group hiking and one person runs out of food or water, or maybe they didn’t pack enough appropriate clothing, the rest can usually sort them out. If you are traveling alone and any of these things happen, then you are stuck without a solution, and you will need to carry on walking without these items or turn back.
Getting Lost While Solo Hiking
It can happen to anyone you think you are on the right track, and then suddenly you find that you don’t know where you are. When you are alone, you would need to come up with a plan on your own, and you are also at more risk of panicking and not being able to find your way out.
Meeting Unsavory People While Solo Hiking
An unsavory person could become a problem for any solo hiker, but unfortunately, this is an even greater risk if you are a female hiker. When traveling alone, you could become more of a target for the criminal element that could be lurking around the corner.
Ways You Can Mitigate Dangers While Solo Hiking
If you go through all the possible dangers that a solo hiker could encounter, you might think that solo hiking is dangerous. Luckily, this is not the case. As with all things, you can implement methods and safety precautions that will mitigate these dangers, making solo hiking as safe as it can be. Let’s go through some of the safety precautions you can employ while solo hiking.
Preparing For An Animal Encounter While Solo Hiking
Before heading off on your hike, one safety method you can employ is first to research what animals you might come across while hiking. If you are heading into bear country, take some bear spray, or keep a bear bell attached to your bag.
If you are walking in a remote area, you can even play some music on your phone. These noise precautions will alert most animals that you are coming, and they should leave before you even get there. Staying on the designated path is also a suitable preventive method to keep out of the way of any wild animals.
Knowing Your Limits And Staying Safe While Solo Hiking
A crucial way to prevent getting hurt or straining yourself is to know your limits. Staying cautious and taking the less strenuous trail is safer when you are on your own. Before crossing a river or rocks, choose a path that looks like it would be the safer option instead of just clambering over because you think you can do it. If you are getting tired or the weather is changing, turn around rather than push through it.
Prepare Properly Before Going On A Solo Hike
Ensure that you have researched your trail correctly and checked the weather conditions for that day. Pack appropriately, with enough food, water, clothing, a headlight, offline digital map, paper map, compass or GPS, etc. Another handy tool to include is a personal locator, which can allow you to send messages, have someone at home monitor your position in real-time, and send your location to emergency services in case of an accident.
Write out a hiking plan and leave one copy in your car and give one copy to someone at home so that they know where you were planning on going. Leave the same person with a cut-off time, a time that you should be out by, letting them know once you are back at your car. If something happens and you don’t get out, they can notify officials and send someone to look for you.
If you are worried about being alone and vulnerable, choose a well-traveled trail. This way, if you do feel uncomfortable, you can walk close to another group or let someone who is passing know how you feel.
Solo hiking is not a dangerous activity as long as you have prepared appropriately for your skill level and chosen hike. If you have researched your chosen trail, packed all the necessities, practiced safe hiking, and ensured that at least one person knows your hiking plan and whereabouts, hiking solo should be a safe enough activity.