Solo Backpacking

Have you ever gone solo backpacking? If you have, you'll probably agree that it isn't a matter of it being better or worse than backpacking with friends. It's just a different activity altogether.

When you go backpacking with others, it's a social event. You enjoy the scenery, feel good hiking the trails, and you get to know people in a different setting than usual. There's usually a lot of talking, and you feel relatively safe as part of a group. It's a good experience.

Solo Backpacking Trips

When you are alone in the wilderness, it's different. There is a peacefulness that can never be there when you're with others. With nobody to talk to, you stop defining everything and start seeing things more directly.

I remember sitting by an alpine lake at 12,000 feet in the Sierra Nevadas, after not seeing anyone for two days. The sun was shining, and the silence was broken only by the clatter of rocks falling from the cliffs above. I was relaxed, and I felt like it was the most beautiful place on earth. It isn't the same when I'm with friends.

It's also true that there's an "edge" to solo backpacking. There is nobody there to help you if you run into trouble. The grizzly outside my tent in Wyoming, or the rockslide in front of me in Colorado - these things were felt viscerally. You become very aware of how vulnerable you are. This is an interesting experience - but not a bad one.

My favorite aspect of hiking solo, is that all action is more natural. We are social animals without a doubt, but when with others, our decisions and actions are made as part of a group. There is always a little tension involved in balancing all the individual needs.

Consider something as simple as resting alongside the trail for ten minutes. Even while it is a needed rest for one, it can be an unatural break in the rhythm for another, and yet a decision must be made to stop or not. On the other hand, decisions flow almost without thought when you are alone. What a wonderful relief from the complications of ordinary life.

If you haven't yet tried solo backpacking, get out there and do it. At least go for an over-nighter. How often do you actually spend a day without seeing another person? You'll appreciate the experience. (Watch for my article on solo backpacking tips.)

Steve Gillman is a long-time backpacker, and advocate of ultralight backpacking. His advice and stories can be found at http://www.TheBackpackingSite.com

In The News:

Actual Google Pixel 4 spotted being used outdoors  Pocket-lintAn anonymous user has been seen with an unidentified phone that looks suspiciously like the Pixel 4 renders posted by Google earlier this week.
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The Philharmonic and Met Opera Go Outdoors, in Good Weather and Bad  The New York TimesTwo concerts in Central Park proved, yet again, that there is an improbable joy in hearing great music outside of the concert hall.
Kids Celebrate The Outdoors At ‘Adventures NYC’ Free Event In Central Park  CBS New YorkNEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It was a perfect day to be in Central Park as, for another year, the parks and recreation department created Adventures NYC to ...
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Outdoors notes  Observer-ReporterMcDonald Sportsmen's Association trap and skeet ranges are open to the public Thursdays from 6 p.m. until 10 p.m. year round. For details, call 724-796-2271.
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Wayfair Is Running an Enormous Cheap Outdoor Furniture Sale This Weekend • Gear Patrol  Gear PatrolIf you're in desperate need of cheap deck furniture, you've come to the right place.
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Big weekend crowds expected at Going-to-the-Sun Road  KXLF Butte NewsGLACIER NATIONAL PARK – Significant congestion is expected this weekend in the Lake McDonald Lodge and Avalanche area as hikers and bikers descend ...
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An hour or two of outdoor learning every week increases teachers' job satisfaction  Science DailyA study has revealed how as little as an hour a week of outdoor learning has tremendous benefits for children and also boosts teachers' job satisfaction.
Grizzly bear spotted north of Conrad captured, relocated  KXLF Butte NewsCONRAD — Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) captured and relocated a grizzly bear spotted north of Conrad on Friday. The female subadult grizzly was ...
Gander Outdoors in Sheboygan is closed | Streetwise  The Sheboygan PressA sign on the front of the store announced the closure but gave no word on why Gander Outdoors has shut its doors in Sheboygan.
New ‘Wyoming Sports & Outdoor Recreation Alliance’ based in Casper  Oil City NewsCASPER, Wyo. — A new nonprofit organization will be located in Casper, and will work to promote both Casper and Wyoming as sports and outdoor recreation.
10 unique destinations to experience the great outdoors  USA Today 10BestFrom family-friendly trips to adrenaline-pumping adventures, here are some of the most unique places to experience the best that the great outdoors has to offer.
Lighten up your yard with this 3-pack Philips Hue White and Color Lily outdoor lights for $244 ($36 off)  Android PoliceWhen I want to set up a nice atmosphere in my living room, I rely on my Philips Hue Iris bulbs to create a cosy setting with relaxing colors. What I enjoy... by ...
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Gordon declares June as Great Outdoors Month in Wyoming  Wyoming TribuneCHEYENNE – Gov. Mark Gordon has proclaimed June Great Outdoors Month in Wyoming.
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Exteriors: furniture for the great outdoors  Financial TimesInject style into your garden with these playful designs.
Free fishing in Montana for Father's Day weekend  KBZK Bozeman NewsMISSOULA – Whether you're tying on a salmon fly or threading a nightcrawler onto a hook, during Father's Day weekend, everyone in Montana can fish for free.
What's Up Outdoors: Great to see young anglers take up sport...  Brainerd DispatchLast weekend kicked off the first of the Student Angler Tournament Trail fishing tournaments and I captained the boat once again for Kyle and Tyler Bahr.
Open Forum: For some, the great outdoors is a little park  San Francisco ChronicleAs a San Francisco park showed, access is the most important amenity of California's outdoor spaces.
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Private Balconies, Patios Are Selling Points As Big As Great Outdoors  ForbesIn Chicago as elsewhere, condominium and rowhome buyers love residences that include private outdoor space, which can serve as a nice substitute for the ...

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