Are you a solo hiker or do you enjoy going with a group? Ambassador Michelle tells us why she hikes with groups, even though she likes being alone. Through her story, she discusses the importance of finding her people can connecting with others through the common grounds of the outdoors.

When I first got the hiking bug, I often hiked alone. I live in area rich with hikers and places to hike. So, being alone was not unwise or unsafe. I knew enough to bring food, water, a map and to wear good shoes. The trails were short, well-traveled popular trails so even though I was alone, I was never alone.

I hiked a lot with my Mom. She’s the one who got me started hiking. I convinced my friend Lori to hike with me. However, none of us were experienced hikers. I wanted to venture out to longer, less traveled, wilder trails. Not yet confident in my own knowledge and experience. I signed up for hikes with local hiking groups. I’m in East Tennessee, around the Smokies. Finding a hiking group was not a problem. There were a few then and the number of groups to choose from has only grown since.

Understand that I am not a joiner. I like being alone. I’ve always been a bit of a loner.  Signing up for a group hike caused me no end of anxiety. I’m much more comfortable alone. Especially when situations involve a group of people I don’t know.

Having my friend Lori go alone was helpful. She’s friendly and funny. Most everyone enjoys her company. I benefit by association and meet people I might not have met otherwise. Everyone should have a Lori. Her friendship, on and off the trail brings me great joy.

Are you looking for a hiking group near you? Hike Like A Woman has several throughout the country. Check it out!

I hiked with local groups like the Sierra Club, Smoky Mountain Hiking Club and the Great Smokies Hiking and Adventure Group. I also connected to hikers in these groups through social media. One of my hiking buddies I actually met through Twitter interactions. We talked on Twitter for several months before we met in person and hiked together, on a group hike.

By hiking with these groups, I was able to to find the hikers I enjoyed hiking with. Those who hike at the nearly the same pace. Ones with whom conversation or lack thereof was a comfortable, natural thing. Never forced. Spending 6 – 8 hours or more on a trail with folks, I learned the people with whom I could just ‘be’. Its important on long day hikes to be able to enjoy the company of other hikers. I need people who can gently push me when necessary. Those who can understand a ‘lollygagging on the trail’ day. Those who understand when to talk and when to respect the quiet. A good sense of humor and being able to laugh at ones self is a priceless trait in a hiking buddy. Now, did I like every person I hiked with? No. Was every group hike a pleasant experience? Again, no. But, they weren’t wasted experiences. They taught me what traits I liked and needed in hiking partners.

Hiking groups are a great resource for new and experienced hikers looking for hiking buddies. One of the things I love about hiking with a group is that I can hike off on my own for a while and hike with people too. The best of both worlds. There’s an intimacy on the trail I don’t find in other activities. Most folks aren’t as guarded and the talk is real. There’s room for all people. Whether you’re more of an encourager, a doer, a planner, a nurturer, an introvert, an extrovert, a leader or a follower; we are all needed  and necessary on the trail. I found my people. People with a variety of talents, whose strengths and weaknesses balance mine. I’m 54 years old and my favorite people I’ve ever known in my life are the ones I have for friends at this phase of my life. Most of them I have met through hiking. I love my people. Nowadays, we hike together outside of the hiking group. We do things together outside of hiking and we have made ourselves a community. In the end, aren’t we all just looking for a place to belong? If you’re looking, I hope you find yours.

One comment on “Go, find your people!

  1. Thanks. I really needed to hear this. I felt silly for the anxiety I was feeling joining a group. Following the group on social media for a while helped, but I finally had to just jump in, alone. I couldn’t talk any friends into starting with me. So I was really out of my comfort zone. But at 60 years old I didn’t want to wait anymore. Each group hike gets better but I still end up hiking alone a lot. Thanks for your story.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *