Why solo wilderness adventures? What is it about being alone in the wilderness that may be appealing to certain people?
Here's my own personal perspective.
From a personal perspective, I need solo trips.
I love time spent with friends in the outdoors. In fact, the basis of some of my closest friendships were formed from shared experiences in the outdoors.
But, well, I am an 'extroverted introvert'. (Huh? Wha???)
I can be friendly and sociable. Love the apres ski (fancy word for burgers and beer!) and laughing about a trip with companions.
But, there is something I NEED for in the outdoors. And I can only get it solo. Quickly in my relationship with (the soon-to-be) Mrs. Mags, I took a hard line on my vacation time. One week is mine. And it has to be solo.
Why solo? Here's something I wrote a few years back…
I wait. Now the night flows back, the mighty
stillness embraces and includes me; I can see the
stars again and the world of starlight. I am twenty
miles or more from the nearest fellow human, but
instead of loneliness I feel loveliness. Loveliness
and a quiet exultation.
So said Cactus Ed (Abbey).
I really can't say it much better..but because I ramble on, I'm going to say something anyway.
When hiking solo. I do not feel alone. I do much thinking that otherwise would not be done. Everything is more intense. Somehow the views are vaster, the sounds sharper, the smells more sharp. The feelings
are overwhelming. In short, I do not feel alone. I feel intimately connected to the universe in which I walk.
When I did the PCT, I went four days without seeing anyone. I stumbled upon a herd of elk on a rainy Oregon day. The sounds of hoofs crashing through the woods, the smell of the damp earth, the incredible sight of the large elk going through the woods. Almost four years later, this image is etched vividly in my memory.
When I did the Colorado Trail, I was caught in a snowstorm on San Luis saddle At 12500' plus, well above treeline. I bailed into Creede. The following day, was again on the divide. The mountains around me were white, the sky was a deep blue. The air had the crispness of Colorado in autumn. It was an over whelming intense scene. My eyes filled up with theintense emotion I felt with the beauty encompassing
Solo hiking can be difficult. You are by yourself, in your own thoughts. You must use your own resources. I don't think being alone is what makes going solo hard…I think confronting yourself, having all around
you that much more intense…that is what people find difficult.
For me, solo hiking turns a thru-hike from an extended vacation into a wilderness pilgrimage. When going solo, I am forced to confront on a very gut level what I am seeking on the pilgrimage.
The beauty, the emotion, my thoughts.
And I would not have it any other way.