View Full Version : Solo thru hiker

11-13-2003, 16:17
I am planning on thru hiking starting off in March of '04 but as of right now it looks as though I will be hiking by myself. I know that there will be other people on the trail as well at this time but how many of you out there have hiked the trail alone or know people who have? Other then the danagers of being injured alone are there any other advantages or disadvantages that you see to someone going solo. Any other problems that you think I might face? Thanks in advance.

11-13-2003, 17:41
I suspect that there will be enough others going your way that you should not worry, even with a March start.

warren doyle
11-13-2003, 18:39
Almost every day, you will have a choice of hiking solo or hiking with someone.

Flash Hand
12-12-2003, 23:13
One of the forum registered member advised me to hike solo, because of advantage that I won't have to alter my hiking styles for others, so I choose to take his advice. I know I won't be alone on AT northbound starting mid-March. Hike solo is much fun because you can Hike your own hike.

Lil Allan :)

Hammock Hanger
12-12-2003, 23:48
Hiking solo simply meansyou come and go as YOU please. There are plenty of hikers to hook up with in town, at shelters, share hitches & rooms with. Stay solo, it's the best way to go. :sun Hammock Hanger

12-13-2003, 01:59
Hiking solo simply meansyou come and go as YOU please. There are plenty of hikers to hook up with in town, at shelters, share hitches & rooms with. Stay solo, it's the best way to go. :sun Hammock Hanger

I agree and I would not worry too much about injuries. In the end my first aid kit was a 1/4 tube disinfectant cream and a couple of bandaids.

I ran into Warren Doyle (and grandson I believe) several times as a hiked north through Maine in July 2001.

Moon Monster
12-13-2003, 13:22
I left Springer on March 9, 2003. Ten others started before me that day, and probably 10-15 started right after me--all on the same day. That many or more started the day before (this was a weekend), and 40-60 started on March 1 alone (it was also on a weekend and the 1st of a month is a magnet for starters). There were ~40 prospective thru-hikers and spring-breakers at the same shelter my second night out, and I was still considered early.

Certainly, early on, only the most dire and immediate emergency would not be able to wait the short period it would take for help to come upon you.

Still, I was alone for an evening as early as at Blue Mtn. shelter in Georgia despite all those people who must have been just a half day either side of me. I had many nights alone on my thru-hike and I had dozens of other nights where I was the only thru-hiker about but was with many section hikers.

During the day, I was almost always alone while walking. At various times, I walked with trail-friends often right in a line. Some soloists grouped or paired up for long distances. Some bonded so tightly, you'd have thought they knew each other before the taril. Other soloists like me, grouped up at various times but did not alter their hikes too much to keep the groups intact.

for example, I walked with two guys in Tenn. and southern VA, then got 3 days behind them when I took a weekend off to visit family. I stayed three days behind those two for 1000 miles before catching them and hiking with them again in VT and NH. I had three other partners in the mean time, but none of those pairings were tight enough to stick together if one of us took an extra day off. Other folks who stared alone wound up in groups or pairs so tight that one would sit still in town if the other got off the trail for a family visit or such.

What you wind up doing is based on individual circumstances and the individual people you wind up meeting. I can easily foresee hiking the AT again and finding a partner I'd want to stay with the whole way. That just didn't happen for me in 2003.

I walked with probably 8 or 10 different partners at some point for some length, but none of them to the exclusion of hiking within my own comfort zone. That was very important to me.

A big example of what keeping to your own comfort can mean is shown by my last three weeks on the trail. By the Whites in NH, I was back into a group with the two guys I hiked with in the South. It was fun, and the commaradere is great, especially as you are getting near the end of the journey because you all have months of the same experiences and inside jokes to laugh about. But, I developed some painful problems in my arches and I held back an extra day in Gorham. The other two went on, and I never caught them again. I probably could have, but I made it a point not to try because I wanted to make sure I could get to Katahdin pain free. I wound up hiking the entire state of Maine without seeing another NOBO thru-hiker (I saw hundreds of other hikers and I even hiked with a couple of sectioners). It was lonely to a point. Finishing on Katahdin with nothing but dayhikers around is somewhat sad--it's not possible for them to relate to what you are going through being at the end of the journey. But, letting the other two get a day ahead of me was the right call, since my feet healed well in the extra day's rest.

12-13-2003, 14:57
I hike solo, that is how I always hike. I am taking my 18 year old son on my next section, we will be hiking solo together. In other words, we will each be carrying gear as if hiking solo, NO community gear. I hike slower than he do, our plan will be to say "will meet you at point X tonight" and off he goes.
Solo is good, but so is group hiking If you plan on being a solo hiker, then it's no problem to hook up with another, if you go planning on being a group, (group gear & such) then it can be a bit hard to split up.


12-15-2003, 13:46
Leaving Springer solo will present no problems for you. I was out for six months in 1997 (leaving solo) and I spent roughly 10 nights total by myself at my choice. I could of spent many more nights alone yet I enjoyed the company of those heading north with me.

12-31-2003, 03:02
I too will be starting solo, however I look at it more of a necessity for myself. Even though for the first 9 miles my father will be making the hike with me from Amicalola Falls to Springer. I enjoy hiking solo, it's a peaceful time to just be out in the woods, just you and the breeze... nothing beats a night out under the stars all alone.