I write a lot about the physical aspect of going it alone on this blog, but rarely delve into the emotional aspect. People often recoil at the notion that I am traveling/hiking/biking/kayaking/RVing alone. I recently had a man stop me on the trail just to ask if I was hiking alone. He remarked that he was seeing more and more solo women on the trail, and did I think it was because of “the book?” I replied perhaps, but I have been hiking solo 20 years before Cheryl Strayed wrote the “Wild.” In fact, traveling alone is the most comfortable default for me. No one writes a book with the title “Alone but Never Lonely” unless they enjoy being alone.
Many assume there are reasons other than desire or personal choice. There aren’t. It’s the one time when I don’t ever hear myself say those soul-sucking, insipid words, “I don’t care…whatever you want to do” for fear my true choice will disappoint the rest. Or vice versa. Being alone guarantees that 100% of the time, I am doing exactly what I want to do. As soon as I start following someone else’s path, it’s no longer “my journey.”
I recently contemplated the perspectives of intentionally hiking alone, versus being with a group and finding myself alone. Why should the two scenarios really be any different? But they are…one feels intentional, while the other can feel a bit isolating. I’m a slow hiker, so I tend to find myself at the back of the pack. It’s “victor versus victim” mentality. I try to avoid the latter.
There are times when I write about risky situations on the blog. Most recently, I heard several “virtual gasps” in regard to my Kanarraville Falls solo hike. While some commented, “Oh, you are so brave,” others said downright “foolish.” 😉
But consider this…You are standing alone at the bottom of a rickety ladder in a waterfall. Or at the end of a lone 4WD road, or an icy precipice overlooking a steep, dead-end drop of a canyon. You are pretty sure there is something at the other end that reaps a reward possibly much greater than the risk. You ask yourself the following questions:
- Does someone know where I am and would question if I don’t show up or report in? Yes, someone knows where I am at all times.
- Do I have adequate food and water? The 10 Hiking Essentials? Yes, and even a space blanket for extra warmth.
- Do I have some sort of self-rescue training or knowledge? Yes, months of self-rescue from technical dive training, cave training, First Aid training, and Map and Compass course.
- Do I have people who depend on me for their livelihood? No, they would be sad, but in fact are better off as beneficiaries.
- Do I have some type of communication device with me? Yes, if the cell phone doesn’t work, the Delorme Inreach will. If it doesn’t work, well, at least I was prepared.
- Is my financial house in order? Yes
- Have I told my loved ones how much I love them? Yes
So do you press on alone, knowing you have accessed the risks? Or do you say, “Naaaahhhh….I think I’ll just wait until I can find someone to go with me.”
Brave is the woman who bucks the system or pokes at the glass ceiling to say “Follow me, I know a better way.” Courageous is the woman who fronts the spousal abuse to protect her children. Bold is the woman who asserts herself in the male-dominated field of exploration. No, I take the chicken way out….I go it alone.