Why do people hike alone? There are plenty of reasons why we love to spend a day on the trail in the company of flora and fauna, not other human beings.
Solo hikes can be a great way to relax, clear the mind, and get some of that much-needed alone time in the busy, wired world in which we live. Perhaps they need a break from the kids on a week-long family vacation. Or, perhaps, a trek through the forest has spiritual significance. Either way, hiking alone can have positive impacts on both body and mind.
All this is good and well, so long as the person takes the appropriate hiking precautions. It’s unwise to underestimate the dangers of hiking alone. The rule of thumb is to plan for the worst and hope for the best. Here is our list of solo hiking tips, so you can get your alone time but also stay safe while hiking.
Take the well-travelled path
This is one of the golden rules for hiking safety.
Hike a popular trail, so that if you run into trouble there are other people around to get help. It’s also important to pick a well-marked trail with signs, arrows, and safety hazards posted where necessary.
Fortunately, Mammoth Lakes has a number of popular trails to choose from. Crystal Lake is a popular trail that offers hikers incredible views of the Mammoth Lakes Basin. Mammoth Rock is another well-used trail, a 2.6-mile trail that leads hikers through meadows, historic mines, and lakes.
Let someone know you’re going
Tell a friend, family member, or even a park ranger at the entrance where and when you’re going so that someone knows to look for you if you don’t make it out of the trail in good time.
Social media can be of use here, too. Post a picture of you at the trailhead sign for your followers to see. This way, a number of people will know where you are, and who might notice if you’re not online for a period of time.
Check the forecast
This is important no matter who you’re hiking with, but especially important if you’re on your own.
Don’t just look out the window and set out when you see the sun shining. Check the predictions for the duration of your hike – and a few days after. Weather can change quickly in the mountains, from hot to cold to rain to snow, depending on factors such as time of year, altitude, and, of course, weather patterns.
Bad weather can debilitate even the most experienced hiker, increasing the risks and dangers of hiking alone.
While we don’t recommend carrying a heavy pack filled to the brim with unnecessary items, it’s important to bring anything and everything you think you might need when hiking on your own.
Be sure to pack:
- More water than you think you need – particularly in the warmer months.
- Double the amount of food – for a day hike, pack enough for two days; for a two-day hike, pack enough to sustain you for four.
- Layers – even if it’s hot when you set out at noon, bring a thick sweater for warmth in case you get stuck on the trail later than planned.
Pick an appropriate trail for your level
There’s nothing more dangerous than an inexperienced hiker in gym shoes scrambling up a slippery scree rock or barrelling down an uneven slope on the other side.
Sure, it’s good to challenge yourself, but stay within your limits when hiking alone. Save the tougher paths for group or guided hikes. Take hiking safety seriously, and pick a trail that you can confidently complete and also enjoy stress-free.
Following these tips for hiking alone safely can significantly reduce the risk of running into problems on the trail.