View Full Version : First Solo Hike

Jim Obermeyer
09-04-2003, 13:27
I'm planning my first solo hike on the AT from Sam's Gap, TN/NC to Hot Springs, NC (about 43 miles). I've hiked most of this area in sections and have camped twice with a friend at a campsite just north of Jerry's Cabin Shelter. I have no idea why I want to do this, I just think it's something I have to do.

I'm fifty years old and my wife thinks I'm nuts, my kids think I'm nuts, my friends think I'm nuts. I have fears of bears, snakes, getting lost or hurt etc, etc, etc, but from what I've read this is normal. I'm in pretty good shape and plan to do about 10 miles a day. If anyone cares to discuss their first pre-solo hiking anxieties please feel free. Any advice would greatly be apprieciated.:confused:

Lone Wolf
09-04-2003, 13:39
You'll be fine. You will probably run into other hikers out there. Bring a little radio and a good paperback.

09-04-2003, 13:39
I agree, ya iz nuts. Bizzawz nuts! Hhehehe.

Good luck ho.

Peace what 'chew trippin foo'


09-04-2003, 14:02
I just did my first solo overnighter two weeks ago. I had done several long solo day hikes before (10-15 miles), so hiking solo wasn't really an issue. I was more concerned about the evening.

Surprisingly, I honestly never got anxious during the evening. Even when an opossum (I think) scared the **** out me while I setup camp in the dark. I didn't see anyone except at the trailheads either day.

I would bring a book, or something else to do (cards? Very long journal entries?) during your down time. Waiting for bed time with nothing to do sucks.

09-04-2003, 14:19
My first solo trip was a 43 mile, 5 day hike along Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in the upper peninsula of Michigan in mid October. I was not anxious or nervous until a few hours before I left. Then, I was nervous until I started. Once I was hiking, no nervousness. At night, I was. Particularly when a very heavy wind and rain storm swooped down upon me. I was going to get hypothermia (hiking in PU coated nylon), or the tent would blow away, or a branch would fall and crush me, etc, etc. But, none of the happened. Now, I sleep like a baby in a baby in a bad storm.

If you camp alone, you will most likely not sleep too much. Every little sound you hear will become magnified. A bit of a branch falling down will sound like a bear. Or a murderer. Or maybe a pack of coyotes. Once you get through the first night, the rest become easier and you will sleep better.

If you don't hike right up to the end of the day (that is, hike until 8 or 9), you'll need a way to spend your free time. Writing in a journal and cooking and eating dinner rarely take up more than 2 hours. A book is a good way to go. So is a bottle of bourbon (Jim Beam comes in pastic flasks, you know).

Most importantly, enjoy yourself. I really do prefer hiking and camping alone. I feel much more in tune with my surroundings and see and hear more. Moreover, particularly if you hike early and late, you'll see alot more wildlife than if you are with others. That is, if you don't use trekking poles.

09-04-2003, 14:33

Did you run into any "big cats", or larger (not like the little ones you find along the AT), bears (black or grizzly) along your PCT?

09-04-2003, 14:56
8 or 9 bears (not Mr. Grizz), 5 mountain goats, several ferret like creatures, untold numbers of marmots and deer, several coyotes, but no cats bigger than a bobcat. I did find large cat tracks north of Yosemite, but didn't see the creature that made them. I did get a good chuckle out of a woman who swore she saw a wolverine. It wasn't so much her that was funny. It was watching the ranger try to politely convince her that she just saw a beaver.

09-04-2003, 15:07
Originally posted by chris
So is a bottle of bourbon (Jim Beam comes in pastic flasks, you know).

Why limit oneself? Platypus has a wonderful solution to this little issue:


09-04-2003, 15:32
Ah, you misunderstand me! Buy a plastic flask of Jim Beam and celebrate a random Wednesday. Then, fill the now empty flask with your favorite beverage.

Jim Obermeyer
09-04-2003, 15:43
Although I have a German name I carry a flask of Irish Whiskey on hikes. It goes great in coffee. Hey thanks for all the advice and support. I'm ready now! Yeah, ready to go to the liqure store and stay drunk for about 2 weeks. No I'm gonna do this. later

09-04-2003, 23:06
You gotta do this, Jim! Especially if you don't mind being alone much of the time. After 3 solo section hikes, my biggest fear continues to be non-hikers late at night, so I tend to camp at locations well away from civilization. My wife and friends all think I'm crazy and keep trying to get me to carry a cell phone, despite the fact that they don't work half the time and hikers did quite well before they came along. I must say that, as I age, I'm getting slower descending down slick rocks though.

09-04-2003, 23:08

Sand Crab
09-04-2003, 23:40
Hey Jim,
I can empathize with you. I am 55, retired yesterday, and am planning my first solo hike (6 or 8 days) in about two weeks. I have camped alone before (car camping) and can vouch for what Chris says about sleeping during the first night or two. Every sound is strange. I too had a 'possum digging at a log just behind my tent the first night. Sounded like a whole pack of wolves preparing for supper! Lucky for me, I have the reputation for being able to sleep standing up, so after a long day's hike I should go out like a light (I hope). My family also wants me to take a cell phone and I am considering it just in case of emergency. I am resistant to the idea mainly because I don't want to embarass myself by calling home for Mommy if things go bump in the night (there are some things worse than death). Hope you have good weather and a great trip!

Jim Obermeyer
09-05-2003, 05:37
One night I was camping in a campsite just north of Jerrys Cabin Shelter on the AT. My buddy was in a hammock and I was in my tent. We heard footsteps, lots of them. I got up with my flashlite and lying down right next to his hammock was a deer. It was lying there like a big dog close enough for him to pet. I got out of my tent and there were deer all around us. Some were lying down others were standing around. They showed no fear of us at all. They didn't even get up! They weren't bothering us so we just went back to sleep.

09-05-2003, 06:41
As Lone Wolf said, you'll be fine. All of my hiking and backpacking have been solo; sure, I've gotten scared, but I'm still alive. And also, as stated earlier, you'll most likely run into other hikers. Go for it, man!!! 'Tis the season to hike!!!! And don't forget to post a trip report when you get back!!

Mike Drinkuth
09-05-2003, 19:30
WOW Jim, you are about to get addicted! Good luck, sir. Enjoy the silence.

Rhody Bill
09-05-2003, 20:09
I was fifty when I did my first backpacking trip, a lot of people thought I was nuts, too. I started north in Georgia and never stopped till I reached Katahdin...go for it, but before you go, get rid of half of what you're absolutely SURE you will need. RB

09-05-2003, 22:03

I am also having similar fears. I'm 43 and thinking seriously about a solo thru hike in 2004. I'm a little worried about bears, snakes, mice, injuries, water sources, getting lost, falling trees, river crossings, loneliness,....you name it!

Whenver I talk about a thru-hike with friends and family, they think I've completely lost my mind.

Maybe I have.....oh well.

09-05-2003, 22:14
and hiking the AT is a LOT safer than driving in CHICAGO!

09-05-2003, 22:27
I love to be alone in the woods. It only gets scary at night and I usely fall asleep quickly. I'v been woken afew times by beasts outside my tent coming to eat me but if I don't move they leave me alone and I fall asleep again. Thats why I sleep in a tent!

09-05-2003, 22:32

There's no question about it. Driving in Chicago, or walking in the city for that matter, is probably far more dangerous than hiking the AT.


The tent always seems to provide a certain sense of security. I try not to think that it is really only a thin layer of nylon separating me from the wild animals. The animals tend to leave me alone as well.

09-05-2003, 22:51
solo hiking isn't as safe as hiking with a partner...but life is itself isn't safe...you can't get out alive..so you might as well live!

Lone Wolf
09-05-2003, 23:02
No fear with a Glock by you're side.

Jim Obermeyer
09-06-2003, 05:24
Originally posted by L. Wolf
No fear with a Glock by you're side.

A big Amen to that!!!!

09-07-2003, 23:01
I too am 50 and have had the "anxieties" as well. They are usually long gone by the time I get to the camp. My kids and wife used to think I was crazy, now they just assume I will be fine, so do I.

09-08-2003, 19:28
i'm fixing to go on my first solo hike in mid October. Gonna be doing the GA section from Springer to Standing Indian (about 85-90 miles) and I too am having some anxiety about doing such a long trip by myself. I figure that I will have prepared enough by the time I go but there is still that uncertinty about being in the woods for several days alone. Dont get me wrong - I will probably love it and wouldnt trade it for anything but...... I guess I'll take it as it comes. There cant be that many things that could go wrong??? could there?:confused: :-?

09-08-2003, 23:00
If you want to sit bolt upright at 2 AM just wait til one of those military jets fly overhead near the beginning of the trail at Springer, about 200 feet over your head. After that, skunks, bears, deer, opossums, rabbits and whatever other critters come strolling along seem like mice. Yee haw, enjoy the uncertainty, it's what adds flavor to the hike and sets the hiker apart from the play-it-safe boring life material people.