solo backpacking, lessons learned

I feel alone for the first time in a long time  The bad alone. The kind that’s crippling and makes your throat clench up because you are trying so hard to fight back the tears. I know I am completely and utterly alone. I know there’s probably no one for a few miles (or at least until the next campsite). I’m at this backcountry site alone tonight. Don’t tell my parents… 

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I did this backpacking trip alone to prove something to myself. Maybe that was the wrong mindset. Maybe the trip was meant to humble me, to show that I’m not all that I’m cracked up to be because it’s not about me.  I’m learning how to be scared. I don’t always have to be the brave one or the strong one, or the independent one. It’s ok to be weak, to be scared, and to admit it.

So, here are a few things I learned from doing a backpacking journey solo:

1. It’s ok to be scared and admit it.

2. I don’t have to prove anything to myself.

3. I am a really fast hiker, like freaky fast when there’s no one there to pace me.

4. If you lend someone your fancy windproof lighter, they will repay you with Bulleit Rye Bourbon.

5. Twirling & running through a field in a mountaintop bald with no one in sight is one of the most freeing things I’ve ever experienced.


6. Don’t bring quinoa to cook because it takes up WAY too much fuel in a small camp stove. (duh, it has to simmer for 12 minutes)

7. A 2-person tent feels like a mansion when there’s only one person in it.

8. At night, when there’s no one to talk to, no books, and no internet, bedtime is about 9pm.

9. If you forget soap, it’s ok because you don’t have to share a small enclosed tent space with anyone.

10. When hiking with no one in sight, belting out songs is the best way to keep yourself entertained & also the best way to keep bears away.

11. Packing up camp in the morning by yourself takes much longer than you think it’s going to.

12. Don’t make a habit of backpacking alone, but also don’t be afraid to try it (and also don’t forget to let somebody know your EXACT agenda)

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“The wayfarer, by definition, is a leaver – the one who leaves, goes, sets out into the world in order to find something. Leaving, of course, requires the risk of losing things, but it also open the possibility of finding oneself.”


4 thoughts on “solo backpacking, lessons learned

  1. It’s amazing how big that sense of being alone is. And yeah, when you don’t know exactly how much power is left in your flashlight/headllamp and don’t have spares, bed time comes early…

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