Learning to Hike Alone
The first time I went into the wilderness was on an optional pre-college program called PWild - a group of wilder and older students put new incoming students on a bus heading to four possible locations in Northern United States and we were to spend 7 days just hiking out there in the wild.
I’ve never hiked or backpacked before, and didn’t know the first thing about survival or nature, but I felt secure going in a big “professional” hiking group. I had no problem going to the bathroom in the forest and following instructions from someone wiser than me on what to do (like gather sticks to make fire or put stuff up in the trees in case bears come overnight).
It was an amazing trip! And even though I loved it, I still didn’t feel comfortable ever hiking alone. I needed someone more experienced and professional to go with me, even on a day hike. But nobody like that came along…
One of the first destinations I went to as a nomad was New Zealand. There, the amazing @saggis recommended that I hike the Waimangu Volcanic Valley. I wanted to do it… but I had do it alone and I was terrified!
My hiking fears include getting lost, being attacked by a wild animal, and the biggest one of all - tripping, hitting my head and just dying out there with nobody ever finding my body. Oh yeah, and I have zero training in survival skills. I don’t know what berries to eat or how to make fire or shelter or how to treat a poisonous snake bite. Or even know if the snake is poisonous to begin with.
But my want won over my fear, and I decided to do the hike!! I got there and was super nervous, asking about a map and guidance from the friendly staff lady. She was definitely confused by my fear. Turns out, that hike had only one path. All numbered! And there were other people on the path - so if I tripped, someone would have found me eventually… It was absolutely unbelievable and breathtaking.
Check out more from the Waimangu hike here.
Something I thought was terrifying was amazing and fun! I was able to realize that a lot of hikes out there weren’t just wilderness survival - they were established easy-to-follow paths. Even during my pre-college hike, we were on an established and labeled path with a clear map - I just didn’t think about it because I let someone else lead.
Since then, I’ve hiked solo in Italy. On my 17-mile hike all around the Island of Giglio I even saw a snake!
Yep, you bet I went to that castle!
On the Island of Elba, I sat and contemplated the beauty of the world at this breathtaking sight:
And how could I forget hiking the Cinque Terre?!!! My family abandoned me, but I kept going and going all day!
On the island of Okinawa in Japan, I always took the hiking path to get to a hotel that was a good walk from our AirBNB:
And the first thing I did in Norway was climb a mountain by myself:
I’m still not at the level of doing overnight hikes. And I’m still a bit worried whenever I hike by myself. But Norway is a perfect place to hike. No real scary animals (the reindeer yesterday ran away as soon as they saw our hiking group). There are no tall trees, so you can see everything around you - where you came from and where you’re going. And summer means the sun is always shining - it will not suddenly become dark and scary. I plan to hike a lot more while I’m here!
Yesterday on a group hike, I saw this lady just walk out of her car with a big backpack, including rope equipment, all by herself, and walk confidently into the wilderness. I want to be like her one day!