Updated: Oct 31, 2020
Solo hikers love the solitude and feelings of empowerment that come from being able to go it alone. However, their loved ones don’t always feel the same sense of adventure and worry about their safety. Here’s some strategies to ease some of the anxiety and improve your safety on the trail.
1. Identify what scares them – Have your friends or family get very specific about their worries. Simply identifying what scares them can help alleviate fears. You can’t plan for, “It’s not safe,” but you can certainly share your strategies about what to do during a bear encounter. If bears are a concern but you’re not even hiking in bear country, worries are unfounded.
2. Assure them you carry appropriate protection – There are many self-defense strategies and tools you can carry with you. You’ll have to decide what you’re comfortable with but some options are a knife, mace or bear spray, hiking poles, a whistle or air horn, tazer, or firearm. Whatever you decide to carry with you, make sure you know how to use it safely and responsibly.
3. Share your plan – People are apprehensive about the unknown. Do your homework and document it. Share your proposed plan with one or two people who will be your touchpoints while you’re away. It doesn’t mean you have to strictly adhere to it, but it gives them an idea of where you’re supposed to be and when. Tell then when and what time you’re starting, your approximate mileage, and when and where you’ll be ending your hike. If you’re doing a multi-day hike, indicate where you think you’ll set up camp each night. Leave some flexibility in the plan so that they don’t panic if you decide to veer off and check out another area. Agree upon an, “If you don’t hear from me by…” time and date and an action plan for what to do or who to call if you don’t check in by then.
4. Bring a dog along – Not everyone has pets, but those left at home seem to feel more comfortable knowing that there’s someone looking out for you on the trail. If a pet doesn’t fit your lifestyle, consider asking a friend if their pup might like to go with you and get some exercise. Be sure to bring water, a snack, and some first aid supplies for your furry companion.
5. Bring along a satellite beacon – There are different kinds of satellite beacons for times that you’re out of cell service range. A personal locator beacon, like the ACR ResQLink sends a distress signal and allows rescuers to pinpoint your location. Satellite messengers, on the other hand, offer some GPS navigation features and allow you to send messages to your designated contact. They also alert rescuers in the event of an SOS emergency call. Some examples of this are the Garmin InReach Mini and the Spot X-2 way messenger. If you’ve got messaging capabilities, select an agreed upon time to check in each day. Center it around an event like eating dinner or before breaking camp rather than a time so that you’ll remember more easily.
Ultimately, communication is the key. Those who love you need information about your adventures to assuage their fears. And, as a hiker, you need to let them know how important your time on the trail is to your mental and physical health. With good dialogue and information, everyone can feel comfortable with your planned adventure.
Need more help preparing for a solo trek? Communication is key – so let’s talk!
Disclosure: this post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links, at no cost to you.