Hiking is not just good for your body. It can also be good for your soul and mental health. How so? When you hit the trails on your own, it gives you time to reflect and enjoy the soothing sights and sounds of nature. And it can also give you an overwhelming feeling of accomplishment, especially after completing a more difficult hike.
Though hiking solo is generally just as safe (if not safer) than walking in an urban setting, it’s always a good idea to take some precautions. The following are 5 tips for women who want to enjoy hiking alone.
Always Let Someone Know Your Hiking Plans
Share your hiking itinerary with a close friend or relative. Let them know the times you plan on leaving and returning home and what trail you’ll be hiking. But be careful who you tell. For instance, it’s not uncommon for women on hiking forums to announce that they’ll be hitting a trail at a certain day and time, and then ask if anyone would like to join them. That is never a good idea. You never know who may be reading those forums.
Download a Good Hiking App
Hikers today have several excellent apps to choose from, including Kompass and AllTrails. These apps will provide you with valuable information, such as the difficulty and length of a trail, elevation gain, and directions. Most apps also have trail reviews, so you can read about firsthand experience from hikers. This information could help you determine if a particular trek would be safe to do on your own. Some apps also have a feature that will allow you to share your hiking itinerary with a close friend or family member.
Although you may want to get away from it all, it’s important to stay connected when you’re hiking solo. Whenever possible, stick to trails where you’re sure to have good cell phone coverage. You never know what can happen on a trail. You could fall and injure yourself or get lost. And when you’re by yourself, the only way to reach out for help may be to call someone.
Prepare for the Worst Case Scenario
As the saying goes, “Prepare for the worst, hope for the best.” When it comes to hiking solo as a female that means bringing:
- A lightweight rain jacket
- An emergency blanket, in case you get caught outdoors overnight
- A whistle to alert others that you may be in danger or to help rescuers find you
- Bear spray (if you’ll be in bear country)
- Protection against a potential attacker, including but not limited to a dog, a knife, or mace
Be Aware of Your Surroundings
For the most part, hiking is a very safe hobby. But it’s never a good idea to let your guard down. For example, do not wear ear buds or headphones. On the trail, your ears can alert you to many potential dangers. And if you’re wearing headphones, you won’t be able to hear such things as an approaching bear or a human. You could also miss the sound of a rattlesnake alerting you to its presence or the angry buzz of a hornet’s nest.