|Tumwater Ridge - Photo by D. McMillin|
Hiking alone can be a very enjoyable time to observe, think, and explore and it is a great deal simpler to organize than group activities. But with going alone there are additional risks which need to be considered and if at all possible brought down to an acceptable level. Here are some of my recommendations:
1) Always tell someone where you are going and approximately when you will return. If no one know where you are no will know where to look for you.
2) Make sure you know what the weather is like, at least you can prepare for bad weather if you know about it.
3) Take the 10 essentials.
4) Stay on the trail. Finding a lost hiker off the trail is very difficult and potentially impossible.
5) Know your limitations. If you hike down a trail you better be fit or healthy enough to hike back up it.
6) Choose a well known and well used trail. People and wildlife are less likely to bother you.
7) Be aware of your surroundings. Seeing a bear or mountain lion before you get too close is always a good thing. It doesn't hurt to work on your singing skills while hiking either. I like hymns but a good chorus of, "I love to go a wandering," is just as good.
8) Check in at the local ranger station. This is just one more person who knows where you are going.
9) Make sure your car will make it to the trail head and back again. Gas is very important, I always like to start the day with a full tank.
10) Take camera. Proof that you were there is always a must, it make the stories more believable. This really is for your safety but it in my book is essential.
These are ten of my best thoughts. Be aware that hiking alone is intrinsically more dangerous than being with a group and every step should be taken to reduce the danger.