It may come as a surprise to the readers of this, but most of the hikes I have completed on the list (which you can see in the right column) have been solo. Many would question this because it is unsafe and kind of stupid to put it simply. I have had more than one person voice concern for going hiking solo. Hiking in the summer solo is not really the problem. You usually will see a few people on the mountain and there is also ample daylight. Hiking during the winter is what has concerned some. It is cold, the mountains are not as frequented and the days are shorter. Oh did I forget the ice and snow.
For me to accomplish my goal at the date I have set, it requires me make the tough decision of going out on my own. I do try to get people to join me, but I have found this difficult because of my age and place I am in my life. I am a junior in college and the majority of students on the weekends like to party. This makes it hard to find people who want to opt out and wake up early to go climb a mountain. So my solution to this is hiking solo. There are a few things I do when going hiking on my own. I try and do as much research on the hike as possible. The first thing I do is plan out how much time the entire trip will take including travel time and total hike time. I then try and find trail conditions if possible. Next I find out what the trail is like: how steep, how much open rock face is there and are there any apparent dangers on the trail? I also tell someone where I am going and when I will be back. This is usually a friend or family member depending on where I am coming from. Doing these few things gives me a confidence boost. Being out alone also gives you lots of time to think and get away.
When you hike with a buddy or a group you talk on the way up and down. It helps pass the time and you can have some great conversations. When your alone it gives you time to think. Sometimes I listen to music which can speed up the pace or I just think. I have come to learn that being outside is the place that you can truly think clearly and rid any distractions. I usually shut my phone off and only turn it back on to take a picture. I attempt to disconnect from our increasingly connected world and turn back the hands of time and go back to our roots, the environment around us. Too many people today do not appreciate the natural beauty that the landscapes hold around us.
Hiking solo helps you build self-trust and confidence. You have to trust yourself that you have the ability to go out alone and know how to deal with different situations that could possibly arise. I feel that you must have your own self confidence and trust before you can extend these to others. What I mean by that is you must trust yourself before you can trust others. On to my hike.
(Please note all of the pictures will increase in resolution if you click them) My travels led me to Mt. Shaw and Black Snout mountain in New Hampshire on 12/28/11.
Mt. Shaw sits on the north side of lake Winnipesaukee and within the town of Moultonborough, NH near Castle in the Clouds. The trailhead is located on mountain road (route 171) approximately 3.8 miles down the road from the intersection of route 25 and route 171. The trail head is not well marked, I thought it was just a pull off into someone’s land. I started my hike around 9:15 in the morning and proceeded up what was essentially an ATV trail. The trail was like this for 1.75 miles until it tapered off to a more familiar trail with red trail markers telling you where to go. The majority of the trail ran along side a river that split off into smaller streams as I went higher up. Toward the bottom the river was flowing quite heavily because it had rained and snowed the night before.
The trail crossed the stream at a point up the trail and it took a few minutes to figure out a way around without slipping on the ice and fast moving water. The rest of the hike was a steady uphill climb in a ravine with some great views through the trees on the way up.
Once I finished the majority of the hike which climbed up the south side I had to trek over to the north side of the mountain because that was where the actual peak was. There was only about another 100 feet of elevation gain on the way over to the north side. So most of this was walking on flat ground, mostly snow covered! It was a mile on mostly snow mobile trails to get to the other side of the mountain which made it a little boring. The peak looked north at the rest of the Ossipee mountains. It was cloudy on the day I hiked but I’m guessing that on a clear day you can see some of the White Mountains.
It was cold at the top with the wind going and the thin layer of snow giving off some cold air. After I ate lunch and enjoyed the view for a while I hiked back to a peak I had passed to get to Mt. Shaw, Black Snout. With the weather conditions I had preferred the Black Snout peak because the clouds were much more scattered over lake Winnipesaukee giving a nicer view.
I was truly alone on this hike until about half a mile from the bottom when I saw a group of 5 making their way up. Not seeing a single person while hiking designated trails might make some question their choice, but I felt at ease being the only one on the mountain that day.It gave me a sense of calm that is often difficult to find.
“In learning to know other things, and other minds, we become more intimately acquainted with ourselves, and are to ourselves better worth knowing.”
Philip Gilbert Hamilton