First Solo Jitters

Miya

Because I am able.
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Dec 31, 2017
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Hello Online Tramily!

I feel pretty silly posting this, but am doing it anyways!

As most of you know, I am one of the Noobs to rule all Noobs. Also, that I have been planning a 60 mile hike on the Lost Coast Trail with my friend Bobbi. However, our last rave adventure, I realized that she probably wouldn't be able to handle the trail, or just not enjoy herself. I cancelled our permit and decided we would do a shorter 40 mile trail closer to home. To my utter disappointment, it is now looking like she won't be able to do even that, because she didn't get the time off of work.

Anyways, work has been a soulsucking mess and I NEED a vacation and I NEED to hike (having withdrawals). I always planned to get to a point of solo hiking since I prefer being alone in general, but didn't think I would be doing it in a couple weeks.

I am sure this is no problem for a lot of people, did anyone used to get nervous, or still does, when venturing out alone? Do you have any tips, rituals, or suggestions to get used to being out there?

I keep hyping myself up and feeling like, "Whatever, I got this!" But I know once I get out there and lay down to go to bed and hear twigs crack, or creature sniffing around, I am going to curl into the fetal position.

Thanks to anyone for any advice!
 

KevinD

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Jan 31, 2017
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I would suggest heading out to the backcountry with more experienced people for the first few times. Gives you a chance to get your bearings. After that, you could start doing solo trips on relatively popular trails so you don't feel too alone out there. The benefit of going solo is you're almost guaranteed a fcfs permit! Some popular trails that are nice for beginnners: Little Lakes Valley (Inyo), Lakes Trail (SEKI), and 20 Lakes Basin (Outside of Yose).

Just more time on the trail will make you more comfortable :)
 

slc_dan

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Jun 7, 2012
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Congrats on having the drive to get out there, even if no on is with you. It will no doubt be intense, lonely, even downright terrifying. That is precisely the reason to go. Our world is too comfortable, get out of that, and the reward will be there. There is nothing more satisfying than watching a sunset with no one around, in a surrounding where you've only had to rely on yourself.

There is a few good discussions from others in the links below. I hope you find it helpful.

https://backcountrypost.com/threads/tips-for-solo-backpacking.762/

https://backcountrypost.com/threads/alone-in-the-backcountry.7284/
 

scatman

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I've got to agree with @slc_dan on this one. Take the title of this song to heart as you are heading down the trail, moving along to the beat.


Besides, you'll have your Lego character with you (I can't remember, was it Wyldstyle?) and all the folks here at backcountry will be with you in spirit. Plus you will have a wonderful sense of accomplishment when you complete your trek.

You will do great! Rock Steady, @Miya, Rock Steady!
 

Outdoor_Fool

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Miya, in reading your post, the only thing that stood out to me, aside from your usual amount of high enthusiasm, was the 40-mile length of your first solo trip. I would consider paring that back to 20 miles or so so you can ease into the experience a bit.

Read the threads that @slc_dan recommends.

Aside from that, expect to wake up a few times during the nights because your brain will be on overdrive. Don't stress over that, it is normal. Have fun!
 

gnwatts

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I find spending time with myself is the scary part. Being alone is the best part. I hope that makes sense.
Have fun.
 

Wanderlust073

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How many days/nights is 40 miles? I'd probably go out for 1-2 nights first if you're really nervous about it and/or want to make sure you're all dialed in on gear and capabilities.

The only real difference between solo vs companions is your willingness to accept the small risk of something happening that leaves you incapacitated and unable to get help. Get past that, you're good to go. Can't get past that, well...
 

IntrepidXJ

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I think a short overnight trip is a good way to see how you'll be able to handle a solo trip. If things don't go well, you won't be too far away to bail out.
 

Pringles

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Nov 23, 2015
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I second Scatman's comment that everyone here will be wishing you the best. The first time I spent a night alone in the woods was because I went ahead to prepare supper, and my friends never caught up. It was scary, but oddly empowering. I had picked a wonderful campsite, and hung my food safely from bears. There ws a little waterfall that "sang." I wouldn't have plannned that trip alone, but it was pretty wonderful. The next few trips alone made me nervous when I started, but pretty soon I recognized that I really did know what I was doing, mostly. A really strong sea kayaker once commented that he'd rather go kayaking alone, that he felt confident he could keep himself out of trouble, but that if he went with someone else, especially someone he didn't know very well, that's when problems would crop up. Trust yourself. Trust your senses. Do what you feel you can do without getting too stressed out. (Have fun.)
 

Miya

Because I am able.
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Dec 31, 2017
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Thanks for all the support!! I really appreciate it!
There is still a chance I can go with Bobbi, but we shall see.

I was thinking that testing out one or two nights in Yosemite would probably be the best way to go. It gets so busy there, it might be comforting to know people are somewhere nearby for my first couple solos.
 

Miya

Because I am able.
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Joined
Dec 31, 2017
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I've got to agree with @slc_dan on this one. Take the title of this song to heart as you are heading down the trail, moving along to the beat.


Besides, you'll have your Lego character with you (I can't remember, was it Wyldstyle?) and all the folks here at backcountry will be with you in spirit. Plus you will have a wonderful sense of accomplishment when you complete your trek.

You will do great! Rock Steady, @Miya, Rock Steady!

OOOW my Lego! Haha I will use that to lift my spirits and throw her as a distraction to any human or animal assailant! Lol

Great, now imma have that song stuck in my head the whole time...lol
 

Miya

Because I am able.
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Aside from that, expect to wake up a few times during the nights because your brain will be on overdrive. Don't stress over that, it is normal. Have fun!

This is actually really reassuring to me, because I feel very sure that this will happen. I am surprised no one has mentioned booze. I plan on bringing a flask, half a shot really helps me not be so on edge. Haha
 

Miya

Because I am able.
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Dec 31, 2017
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How many days/nights is 40 miles? I'd probably go out for 1-2 nights first if you're really nervous about it and/or want to make sure you're all dialed in on gear and capabilities.

Yeah the 40 miles would probably take me 3 nights. I could push it to 2, but wouldn't enjoy all the great views I think there will be!
 

Miya

Because I am able.
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Dec 31, 2017
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I second Scatman's comment that everyone here will be wishing you the best. The first time I spent a night alone in the woods was because I went ahead to prepare supper, and my friends never caught up. It was scary, but oddly empowering. I had picked a wonderful campsite, and hung my food safely from bears. There ws a little waterfall that "sang." I wouldn't have plannned that trip alone, but it was pretty wonderful. The next few trips alone made me nervous when I started, but pretty soon I recognized that I really did know what I was doing, mostly. A really strong sea kayaker once commented that he'd rather go kayaking alone, that he felt confident he could keep himself out of trouble, but that if he went with someone else, especially someone he didn't know very well, that's when problems would crop up. Trust yourself. Trust your senses. Do what you feel you can do without getting too stressed out. (Have fun.)

This really made me feel great! My logical brain knows it might be scary, but I won't die from the fear and I will get used to it. But knowing something doesn't always make the going out and doing it any easier. Thanks for sharing your experience!
 

Jackson

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I did my first solo overnight trip last weekend, coincidentally. And I'm very happy I did. I was nervous about it the entire week leading up to it. Honestly, I was less nervous once I was actually out there. Surprisingly, sleeping wasn't any more challenging for me than it is when I'm with people. I'm always slightly on edge at night in the woods, but I continually remind myself that my fears are nearly completely unrealistic, and that helps. I had camped near a stream, so that helped drown out any small noises that would've sent my heart rate up.

The hardest thing for me was a bit of boredom. I did some fairly high mileage during the day, and I didn't see anyone the whole time. I also still had several hours of daylight to burn through by the time I got to camp. I explored every nook and cranny of my surroundings and spaced out the tasks I knew I had to do. That helped keep my mind occupied. I also had a book that I read.

For my rather worried wife, I rented an InReach so we could text back and forth periodically and she could track me using their online map service.

Now that I've been, I know I can handle solo trips when all my backpacking comrades bail, but I think I still prefer to go with another person or a small group.
 

Miya

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Great to know @Jackson! I agree, I know the things I create in my head are completely unrealistic! Haha so I will probably just have to keep reminding myself. I know I always want to sleep near water, I think that would help a lot! This area is VERY strict though and doesn't want you camping close to the water. ANNOYING. As long as I don't get caught by a ranger, I will be fine though.

I am not worried about the boredom so much. I don't have a TV at home and I live alone. I just read and write all day, or take photos, so I think I will be okay in the wilderness :)

I actually own an InReach, so I know that should help ease my worries, but for some reason, I am still pretty nervous.
 

Shirt357

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I would find it hard to believe anyone wasn't a bit of nerves on their first solo trip... it is only natural. There have already been alot of tips and comments so some of mine may be a repeat :)
My first solo trip I took, I went on a fairly popular, known location that was shorter on mileage. I did it because on a solo trip... you are on your own (or should be... otherwise it is a group trip lol). I wanted to be able to test my equipment (and more importantly, test doing it all by myself... I mean tossing that bear hang rope used to make me curse!), to check out my process for setting up camp, etc. Plus going shorter distance means it made it easier if I needed to bail for some weird reason. It helps knowing your rescue chariot (AKA... your car) is not too far away. Once I had that done... I made some tweaks and moved on from there. Now I am out looking for that next challenge to test myself... to learn more... to try new things cause there are so many ways on a solo trip to test yourself.

As for your question on nerves, etc. You are going out there to experience nature... so focus on it... not the fact you are doing it on your own. Be confident of your ability and focus on just doing what you have learned so far. At night, every little mouse stepping on a twig will conjure images of massive bears and other beasts lounging outside your tent. It is just a given in the beginning. I did things like take along a sleeping pill... some whiskey (this is one I still do)... some ear plugs... a book... etc. If you can, try to tire yourself out. Obviously, with a shorter "first" solo trip this part is harder to do but being tired after a full day can be a major help.

Lastly, remember, that if you pay attention on the trail, if you pack your stuff right, and if you keep a clean camp, you will be just fine. There is a reason you are going out there to experience nature. Keep that in the front of your mind and do not choose too ambitious of a first trip.
 

SKLund

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Aug 19, 2016
Messages
459
You may want to go to a popular area, which should not be hard in CA. Go on weekends also. Avoid high hazard situations like exposure, water crossings, off trail hiking. etc. Know where you are and how to get back. Have others know where you will be, when you will return, and stick to the plan. Make sure your gear works and that you can work it before heading out, especially your shelter, sleep system, and rain gear.

Do a short trips first both in distance and number of nights. I bring my phone loaded with podcasts to pass the time at night.

There are advantages, the main one being you see see more wildlife going solo. I also find myself more deliberate in thought and action to avoid mistakes that cause injury or debilitation. I will tell you straight up that the most transformative experience I ever had was on a solo backpack trip and I have been trying to repeat it for 33 years. Go for it! :moses:
 
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