View Full Version : going solo

05-28-2004, 03:22 PM
(just realized i started a new thread, meant to add to the other one re: solo hiking - sorry)
there's been several times when i've wanted to just drive up north by myself and hike, but i haven't yet. one thing that definitely holds me back is the drive home, alone and usually pretty tired. often i sleep while my hiking partner drives (lucky me!). i'm not really afraid to hike alone tho. i would probably start out on a few hikes i've already done to feel comfortable at it. and, i always read about the trail anyway before hiking so i have a good idea what to expect and the trails, for the most part, are easy enough to follow. but i do have to admit, being a woman, that i can't help but think about the "things" that could happen hiking alone. i hate that i even have to consider stuff like that but how can you help it - all you have to do is read the paper to know that bad things can happen in the most beautiful and unlikely places. not to mention all the horror movies i watch which often take place out in the isolation of the woods somewhere! so that kind of stuff is always in the back of my mind & does make me leary. however, i'm sure once i did it i would be fine; i'm pretty careful, pack well and am quite resourceful when i need to be. icensnow, mommabear & emily - you guys are all from ny right? you all say you hike alone so you are obviously comfortable with it. have any of you had any bad experiences? are there any trails you would definitely not hike alone? i think there's a totally different type of gratification when you hike alone and i really do feel the need to do this so your input would be appreciated.

Mark Driscoll
05-28-2004, 03:37 PM

How long is your drive? In the winter I will often drive the 4 hours in the morning, hike for six hours and drive home. I find that since it gets dark early in the winter I do not over do it and can drive home. In the spring, summer or fall if I want to do an all day hike I call ahead and get a room for the night in the $50 range. I like to drive up the night before the hike and get a good night sleep and drive home after the hike, but that is just me. It is also good to take a shower at the Loj before driving home!


05-28-2004, 03:55 PM
where do you stay up there for $50? have you ever stayed at the "loj"? if so, what's that like?
my drive is only 2.5 hrs. i realize that really isn't that long but i have a problem with chronic fatique syndrome and sometimes after a hike all of a sudden all my energy is just gone and it wouldn't even be safe for me to try and drive that rather short distance bec i will literally fall asleep at the wheel! it's unreal. i mean i can do a 14 mile hike and feel fine, and other times do a 6 mile hike and crash as soon as i sit in the car - so i have to consider that when i think of hiking alone.

05-28-2004, 05:09 PM
I just started this 'sport' in November, 03. Most of my climbs have been alone due to the nature of my schedule. I had some close calls with temperature control but I had everything I needed in my pack. I only attempted one overnight between the Wolf Jaws and it was a miserable failure; but that's another story.

Overall, I did about 16 high peaks this winter, 12 of them alone. My first climb was Wright, Algonquin and Iroquois. There was a guy way up ahead of me; other than that I was alone. It was incredible; more than that, actually. Of course, it was my first time out so I didn't have anything to compare it to. I find the solitude creates a strong feeling within me, a strong anonymous type feeling, very pleasant, with adrenaline; I'll come up with the right word some day. I have difficulty finding someone to pair up with! I usually decide to go rather abruptly and am coming in from Skaneateles NY (near Syracuse), so I try to get an overnight, sometimes 2 or more nights so I can get out a few days at a time. I'm begining to find it kind of lonely!
As far as safety; I've had many frown on my single escapades but I refuse to let 'going alone' get in the way of the climb. I'm not considered a risk taker (no sky diving, rope climbing, motor cycling...) because I have 4 girls ages 3-14 and they need me around. I do like to live on the edge and get that thrill rush; which puts me on these mountains, sailing in hurricanes and the like. That said; I be hard pressed to 'allow' any of my duaghters to hike in the woods alone.

I would recognize that you are putting yourself in a position where there is no ability to call for help, no witnesses, and no telling who you are going to meet! A loaded pistol would solve the security problems, but should you get hurt?!
That is the question I ponder at lenght....

05-28-2004, 06:44 PM
Shadow - I am also a sometime to often solo female hiekr. I drive about 7 hrs to get to the ADK's and often hike by myself. I usually take at least 3 days but have done 2 day weekend trips. I have been on several 15 - 16 mile trips by myself. I go prepared to stay out over night if necessary. I try and leave an itinerary with a friend but not always. I carry my cell phone with me even though you cannot always get a connection. I also write down the name and number of the rangers from the trailhead sign in sheet. I have attended several VFTT gatherings so I have new friends to hike with (many thanks to Peak_bgr and Bushwacker who have hauled by butt up and down mountains) and I have plans this summer to hike with VFTT folks. I often stay at the Loj. It has reasonable prices and you always meet new poeple and have stories to compare. I really do not think that I am in danger from other people while out hiking. I don't think that I would do a long winter hike or a bushwack hike that required more than minimal map and compass skills by myself but other than that every thing is game. I have several trips planned to the ADK's this summer. pm me if you are interested in joining me. And if you haven't come to a gathering. Carol

05-29-2004, 12:43 PM
Hi Shadowcat!

If you ever want to carpool that would be fine with me.
I don't mind driving and wouldn't mind if you wanted to snooze either way.

We could each hike our own hike and then share the ride!

This offer is open to anyone between Albany and the High Peaks.


05-29-2004, 08:02 PM
we've been echatting now since last year but never have met. isn't it weird? i've chatted w/ folks all over the world and it's so neat to be able to that & make friends w/ people you would otherwise never get to meet. but we are practically neighbors! i have to be honest tho - you scare me! you are like a female version of pinpin ;) ! i have my pride you know! you are a hard one to catch on the weekends and i envy you to get out during the week. but, i could just be "too sick" to go into work one day tho and we could do something fun up north. as long as i get good rest etc i am ok and can go the distance, i'm just not a roadrunner!
it might be neat to get all the chicks who chat on this site and do a day together." la femme daks"!
thanks for the driving offer too , we can always use my car - i can drive up, if someone else can drive back.
we are heading up tomorrow but i don't know where we are going yet, either gothics or brothers/slide. never really know until we get up there! heard there was actually snow on top today....brrrr.
have a great weekend

05-29-2004, 10:05 PM
Originally posted by shadowcat
but i do have to admit, being a woman, that i can't help but think about the "things" that could happen hiking alone. i hate that i even have to consider stuff like that but how can you help it - all you have to do is read the paper to know that bad things can happen in the most beautiful and unlikely places. not to mention all the horror movies i watch which often take place out in the isolation of the woods somewhere! so that kind of stuff is always in the back of my mind & does make me leary.

Horror movies aren't reality. They're Hollywood. So is the news to some extent. If you think about it in terms of statistics, thousands of women safely go out in the woods every summer versus the overblown media circuses surrounding the few murders that have occurred in the past several years. Chances are, it's not going to happen to you. And Freddy and Jason are not lurking behind a tree waiting to fire up a chain saw! As long as you play it safe in public areas like trailheads and chose routes wisely, you should be just fine if you are a reasonable and competent hiker.

In my adventures as a female solo hiker, I've yet to meet a truly scary person on the trail. A few odd ones, a couple of overbearing macho dudes, and more than my share of general dodos, but noone has ever been laying in wait for me. I feel safer in the woods than I do walking down a city street.

I know we all have our own fears -- I've had to work on hiking in the dark, and I've yet to solo overnight other than at a hut -- but the beauty of the woods is there for us to enjoy as well.

05-30-2004, 02:53 AM
Regarding the Adirondack Loj: The cheapest way to stay there, if you don't want to sleep in a tent, is to get a bed in the co-ed bunkroom. I just checked their Web site, and it looks like they've changed their pricing structure.


It looks like breakfast is no longer included, so it would be $34 for a bed in the bunkroom and another five dollars for breakfast. A bag lunch (two sandwiches, cookies, gorp, and fruit) is $5.50.

ADK members get a five percent discount.

They also have three- and five-day rates, but they're not available in every month, and there's no member discount.

They do have private bedrooms, but they're way too much money, the walls are thin anyway, and you still have to share the bathroom with everyone else of your sex.

We've stayed there several times while working on the High Peaks. It was only the very last time we were there that there seemed to be a lot of snorers in the bunkroom. My son ended up sleeping on the changing room floor; I'm not sure I ever fell asleep, but we still managed to hike 17 miles that day (Marcy and Skylight).

05-30-2004, 07:20 AM
Sorry, if someone may have already mentioned this (I'm only on my 2nd cup of coffee), but have you considered taking a long a canister of pepper spray to help set your mind at ease while in the woods? A good squirt in the face would also help keep you awake on the drive back, but I wouldn't recommend that.

I also echo previous comments about the woods being safer from whackos then the city streets.

Best of luck.

05-30-2004, 11:45 PM
Originally posted by Artex
A good squirt in the face would also help keep you awake on the drive back, but I wouldn't recommend that.
Best of luck.

LOL oh dear!!!

I've got to remember that next time I'm fretting over the taste of crappy rest area coffee while driving back home on the thruway.. ;)

05-31-2004, 12:47 PM
ha ha and ha
re: jason/freddy - i know they don't really exist, either do buffalo with wings! i mean they really don't right? but that texas chain saw massacre now that guy was real, i know because it said so in the movie. please you gotta know i made that comment with "tongue-in-cheek" - whatever that means. actually i'm not afraid to hike alone & it's this lack of fear that lends me to be even more aware of my circumstances. why? because that lack of fear is exactly what lets you put your guard down. and my street smarts have also given me the edge on more thatn one occassion. one thing girls that i can say, hiking alone could have it's advantages if you are single. i can't tell you the number of times i've seen some really nice looking guys in them there woods! i remember one time this winter, snowshoeing - there was this whole group of them and they just kept coming out of the woods, one after another, after another.....opps! sorry daydreaming! :D
re: pepper spray - not a bad idea but with my luck i would be downwind and it would all blow back in my face!
overall i know that when my time comes it won't matter if i'm in the woods, in a car or at work. so until then i will do the best to be smart about the choices i make, watch my butt & enjoy life!
"have you ever stopped on the trail and listened, really listened - the forest has a story to tell you if only you do, stop and listen"

05-31-2004, 12:53 PM
Almost 20 years ago I was attacked while camped & asleep at night. I didn't venture into the woods hardly at all for a few years following that (to give a little perspective, I'd been going out into the woods by myself all my life, even as a young child). I blocked all memories the incident completely, didn't think of it for years. For various reasons, I've since worked through as much as anyone ever does.

So yeah, stats say you are less likely to get attacked in the woods. But it DOES happen. Another example: several years ago in a near by town a woman was running in a state forest with her dog. A man shot & killed her dog with a cross bow then attacked her (if memory serves, the <insert profanity here> did not receive jail time).

For safety, I rarely hike completely alone. I don't know if I would do an overnight without a guardy dog along. I also wonder how much of my choosing to own a livestock guardian breed of dog was subconsciously related to this. I don't camp near where others are camped. I try to be very aware and watchful when approaching and departing other people on the trail, particularly groups of men. I do not tell other people I am alone, I do not sign into trail registers as being alone. I've taken self defense classes (ask the instructor about things you can do while wearing a pack and boots). Know how to use a compass, then keep a map, compass, and light on your person at ALL times so you can bolt into the woods if need be. Avoid situations that back you into a corner. Listen to your instincts if you're feeling suspicious. ALWAYS leave a complete itinerary and safety net in place with someone at home, and then stick to the itinerary.

Remember that you cannot always trust your instincts, nor can you judge someone by their looks. Most victims know their attackers. Granted it wasn't in the woods, but how many women went willingly with Ted Bundy?

The stats on guns and knives is that more often than not they're taken away from the victim to be used by the attacker. I don't know if the same is said about pepper spray. If you choose to carry any kind of weapon you'd better know how to use it, and be prepared to use it, not just threaten with it.

I guess my message is that you're never completely safe any where. Please be leary, be careful, mitigate as much risk as you can. Then, measure your desire to get out there with the risks remaining.

Hope this helped.

05-31-2004, 01:05 PM
your story says it all and was really the basis of my comments. you do have to be careful. i mean i watch everyone around me. look over my shoulder after someone passes me by, listen to what's going on around me etc. the suggestion re: not signing in alone is excellent. i don't expect to ever backpack alone, nor would i really want to. a day hike in familiar territory tho is not out of the realm of possibility. i was curious if there were any stories of problems up in the daks? not to stir up anything to scare us, just curious. there's a lot that goes on up there every year that we never hear about on the news, that much i do know, but mostly accident related. i'm sorry to hear you had to face such trouble, life is not fair sometimes. i am glad to hear that you are out there again tho living your life and doing the things you enjoy. thank you for sharing your experience and words of wisdom and reality.

05-31-2004, 08:47 PM
Originally posted by shadowcat
re: jason/freddy...please you gotta know i made that comment with "tongue-in-cheek" - whatever that means.....

Understood. :) But, it is sometimes the irrational, subconscious fears that can drive our imaginations in the woods. Just when we should be concentrating on our immediate situation. I wasn't joking about having to overcome my fear of the dark. As a child, my mother told me the boogeyman came out after dark to catch bad little children. Yah, nice one Mommie Dearest! Worked for her purposes, but my first reaction on hearing a twig snap after dark is "OHMYGODIT'STHEBOOGEYMAN!" Not a good place to be in your head, freaking out about nonsense when I should be watching my footing and the trail. And I won't watch horror movies anymore -- I don't need that rolling around in the dark recesses of my brain waiting for a chance to bubble to the surface on a dark and windy night in the woods.

As for being aware of real "boogeymen", obviously, that can happen. And to one of ours. I'm very sorry that you had such a terrible experience, Dugan, but very impressed that you've worked past it. Good for you!

There are real threats out there to be aware of and ways to avoid trouble. Dugan shared some great advice. I've read a lot of good things here -- I remember a good bit of advice PosionIvy shared about not revealing her true overnight plans to strangers on the trail. And scared of the dark or not, when returning to a trailhead at night, I turn off my headlamp as I approach the end of the trail to stop and listen. I also stop before approaching the end of the trail, day or night, to pull my car keys out of my pack and have them in hand, ready to get out of the parking lot as quickly as possible if necessary.

Like everything else on the trail, I think it's all about planning, playing it safe, then going out and enjoying the good of the experience.

06-01-2004, 05:19 AM
When solo, if I'm uncomfortable with the area I stay away from known camp areas and lean to's, bedding down off trail away from fire rings and herd paths. I don't make a fire and use the flashlight minimally. Doing this with a bivy I've seen people walk past with out my camp being noticed.

06-01-2004, 07:33 AM
I don't know how to do the quote thing, this is from Shadowcat's post after mine:
"a day hike in familiar territory tho is not out of the realm of possibility."
Be careful EVERYWHERE. The case I mentioned in a nearby town happened in the woman's home town in an area where she ran regularly.

Good advice from Periwinkle and Warren about having the light off, keys out, and not telling strangers your plans. Another tip for registers is to use a typically male name - but tell your safety net you plan to do that and the name you'll use, just in case they need to find you.

I hope all this hasn't scared you off of solo hikes!

06-01-2004, 08:48 AM
With all respect due the very real (but also very low probability) prospect of being assaulted while in the woods, I must believe the greater hazard was alluded to in shadowcat’s thread-opening post: the prospect of a vehicle crash while driving alone on the way to or especially on the way home from the trailhead.

I’m inclined to get clobbered by a real double whammy on the homeward trip. Plain, old fashion weariness may deliver the knockout punch but the relaxed sense of satisfaction at having completed an enjoyable hike certainly softens me up for it. Driving with windows open or loud music does little or no good, coffee doesn't work well, and even a companion may not be all that helpful. (Mrs. G is wonderful person in almost every respect but she is a notorious “head bobber” when riding shotgun as we travel, and little or no use at all in many cases when it comes to keeping me alert as a driver.)

My only good defense is to recognize that I am becoming groggy, and to get off the road. A walk around the vehicle can help, but the better idea is to take a good snooze. The ironic and worrisome thing here is that pulling off the road for a nap probably is far more risky than spending a night in the deep woods.


06-01-2004, 09:07 AM
I don't know if you are aware but three women have gone missing in nothern VT and NH since Feb 20. The first was Maura Murray, a nursing student, who was involved in a minor accident on RT 112 in Haverhill, NH. There was an intensive search done involving dogs and there have found no trace of her. She has not used her credit card of cell phone since this incident. Her dad searches for her every weekend. The family had spent months trying to get the FBI involved.
The second was Brianna Maitland. She disappeared after work at the Black Lantern Lodge in Montgomery VT. Her vehicle was found "ensconced" in an abandoned building and has not been seen since. This happened 60 miles from where Maura vanished. I think I remember reading that the police did not regard this as a usual "accident".
On May 30, a 35 year old woman disappeared on her way to work at the Stowflake Lodge. Her jeep Cherokee was found by a local but no trace of her in spite of an intensive police search.
The police are saying that these cases are not connected but it appears that the missing women's relatives and many locals think they are. They fear a serial killer.
To the best of my knowledge the case of the woman was brutally stabbed to death on the Glen Boulder trail in Nov. just a few short years ago has never been solved.
Be very careful if you are heading in that direction to solo.
I travel alone up north a lot but I always bring my Akita.
I have to admit that I am very unnerved by these events and plan to avoid solo travel in those areas for the time being.
We can't let fear rule our lives but it doesn't hurt to be aware and use extra caution.

06-01-2004, 09:32 AM
your story about those missing women is unnerving and just one of those "things" i keep in the back of mind ANYTIME i am off alone: whether walking alone back to my car at the mall, walking to my car after working late, mountain biking or rollerblading alone and why i hesitate to hike alone. i really want to go away on a vacation, somewhere where i can walk out my door and have beautiful trails to venture out on (day hikes). i don't really have anyone to go with so it would be a solo trip. the one thing that keeps me from doing it:as great as it all sounds, i really don't want to hike alone in unfamiliar territory. so my next option is hooking up with a "group" but then you never know what you are going to end up with. and , i also may wake up one day and want to chill, but you have this prepaid group thing going on. i suppose a good lodge would have it so you could hook up with other guests and head out, i don't know. doesn't it just SUCK that we even have to think this way! it makes me mad. we should be able to enjoy all this beautiful land with out fear or trepidation of b.s. like this! what are you gonna do huh? life's a crap shoot and i guess you just do the best you can. my "fears" don't paralyze me but the definitely do play a major role in the choices i make. also, it's nice to hear you guys are not afraid to speak about your own fears and the precautions you take while out alone.

Mark Driscoll
06-01-2004, 10:19 AM
Hi Shadowcat,

Sorry I did not get back to you sooner but I did not check my email over the weekend. The two places I stay for about $50 a night are:

The Woodruff motel in Keene, 518-576-4551

and the Cobble Mountain Lodge in Lake Placid, 518-523-2040 (I think they just raised their rate to $55)

You can get rooms with 2 beds at both places and split the cost if you are not solo.