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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:

War criminal convicted over Srebrenica genocide to be sent to UK prison
Wed, 12 May 2021 14:59:00 +0100
Radovan Karadzic - the Bosnian Serb political leader convicted over the Srebrenica genocide - is to be transferred to a UK prison to serve the remainder of his sentence.

Bodies wash up on banks of Ganges as COVID deaths pass 250,000 on India's deadliest day
Wed, 12 May 2021 11:13:00 +0100
Bodies of COVID-19 victims have washed up on riverbanks in India as the country endured its deadliest day of the pandemic so far.

Israel-Gaza death toll rises as UN envoy warns of 'heading to full-scale war'
Wed, 12 May 2021 04:34:00 +0100
Barrages of rockets have streamed out of Gaza while Israeli jets pounded the territory in return, in the most severe outbreak of violence since the 2014 war.

Israel still in grips of political crisis as violence escalates on both sides
Wed, 12 May 2021 15:47:00 +0100
The scenes of violence in the Gaza Strip and across Israel are tragic but should come as no surprise.

Six days of escalating violence in Israel and Gaza - how did it happen? 
Wed, 12 May 2021 14:32:00 +0100
The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has not been seen on a scale like this for years, but the tension is always there.



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