Thursday, January 29, 2015
Solo Hiking vs Hiking with a group.
The flip side to this is that many people only hike in groups. So far I've been fortunate to do about 1200 to 1300 four thousand foot peaks here in New England and New York (most in the last 6 years). About 65% have been alone and in recent years I've been more likely to seek out fellow hikers just due to the social aspect of hiking.
I ran into an article that explored the pros and cons recently for both that I wanted to share the article but also to expand on it. The author felt the decision to hike alone versus in a group should be based on your experience, conditions and your preference.
Hiking in groups has many advantages. Navigation is easier as usually some knows the way. Funny I've never seen a disagreement about which way to go most groups are familiar with the other hikers and in agreement that the fastest most efficient way is the way to go. In case of an injury you have help. You pick up things that work. Everyone does things a bit differently has cool equipment and I know that what I carry ---is often because I've seen someone else using it. Conversation is a big benefit. It makes the time pass, you learn about the people you are with and it's really hard not to bond with them. Trail breaking in snow is much easier. It is nice not to have to carry the burden all on your own.
What are disadvantages? Pace can be hard sometimes. Not everyone walks at the same pace, some people like to stop on mountain tops or for long breaks and others like to keep moving. You have to learn to be patient. Perhaps that's a positive in itself. The unwritten rule is if you start with a group you should finish with the group unless a consensus lets you go. I've never been with a group though that would not work to keep all happy.
The down side is the room for error is minimal. You need to have everything you need for your outing clothing, food, water, traction and first aid. I carry a spot device to be able to signal if I was incapacitated (it appeases my wife but also gives me another tool if something bad happens). While the mountains in the North East are not very tall (most people hike between 4000-6000 feet) they are covered with mud, sticks, roots, ice, snow and every type of weather imaginable. It gets lonely always being on your own. Like the saying "if a tree falls in a forest and no one is there did it really happen?" people crave other people if only to witness.
What are your experiences? What would you add?
Posted by Barre ArmyNavy
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