This post is sponsored by REI. All thoughts and opinions are our own.
Do you want to get out and hike but you have no one to go with, or do you crave that solitude in the woods? And you think, “I would love to hike solo, BUT I am a woman.”? Well, Ambassador Jacquelyn shows you how you can leave this excuse behind.
“I can’t believe you hike by yourself, aren’t you afraid you are going to get lost, come across a wild animal or encounter someone sketchy.”
As a woman in her 30’s who hikes solo, I have heard it all and encountered these concerns on the trail.
Growing up in the woods of Northern Maine I was fortunate enough to spend much of my childhood outside exploring the woods around where I lived.
I feel more at home in the woods, than anywhere else.
Do I ever get uncomfortable, absolutely, but I have armed myself with the necessary tools and knowledge to feel comfortable on the trail alone.
When I had the opportunity to start a local hiking group through Hike Like a Woman, it opened my eyes to the number of women who do not feel comfortable solo hiking.
The reasons being lack of navigation skills, dangerous wildlife encounters or getting hurt. The most common “but,” I encountered was, “I would solo hike more, but I do not feel safe.”
Lets face it, in today’s’ world, some women do not even feel safe walking down the sidewalk.
These conversations have opened my eyes to the education and training needed so women can feel confident solo hiking.
Below are my recommendations and ways I am able to feel comfortable hitting the trail alone.
When you do anything in life you need to feel safe.
How do you make yourself feel safe?
You arm yourself with tools and education to know how to handle various situations.
• Are you worried about being attacked or wild animals?
Take a self-defense course, learn about animals that are likely to be in your area and specific ways to defend against them. Carry pepper or bear spray or a firearm (if you’re trained on how to use it, safe and comfortable with that). Make sure you check your state and federal laws regarding your personal choice of defense weapon.
• Worried about getting lost?
Mark out your trail ahead of time, know the trail markers, use apps such as All Trails where you can track your trip and tell someone where you are going and what time you expect to return. Local Fish and Game or outdoor centers also offer classes on navigation.
• Worried about getting hurt?
Use extra caution on your footing and surroundings. Carry a first-aid kit, know what’s in out and how to use it, and hike in an area that you have cell phone service so you can call for help if needed.
• Situational awareness is a key component to solo hiking.
• Always carry essentials such as a backpack with water, snacks, compass, matches, a knife, an emergency blanket, portable charger and a first aid kit.
Experience: just like anything, the more you do something the more comfortable you feel.
I do not expect you to hike 10 backcountry miles, start out slow.
Take a solo walk around your neighborhood or local park.
Once you feel comfortable doing that find a short easy hike you can do on your own.
Even if it is just a few minutes a week, this can help build your confidence on the trail.
I have found solo hiking necessary for my physical and emotional health.
It has helped me stay grounded, focused and wash away daily stressors.
I Would Love to Hike Solo, But I am a Woman
I hope more women are able to get out and find the peace that I get from solo hiking.
Perhaps then we can change this phrase to, “I am a woman and I love to hike solo.”