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female solo hiker hitting the trail

Your friends and family are probably not going to like what I’m about to tell you. That’s ok. It’s your life, not theirs. Our loved ones may feel it’s their job to look out for us. In almost all cases, their concern comes from love, not control. If you still struggle with their disapproval but feel the forest is calling out to you, remind yourself it’s not selfish to live the life you deserve.

Why Trauma Survivors Should Hike Solo

There are many benefits for trauma survivors to hike solo. First, it serves as a powerful avenue to reclaim a sense of empowerment and healing. It provides a space for survivors to build self-reliance and confidence, and defies the lie that shame wants you to believe. Namely, you are weak, or helpless, or unworthy.

dark shame of trauma metaphor with dark and blurry forest trees

Taking back your power is exhilarating.

author filled with joy on hiking trail

Secondly, it fosters a deep connection with nature that contributes to your emotional well-being. The solo journey through trails becomes a transformative experience and allows survivors to confront and overcome physical and emotional challenges.

Finally, it creates a renewed sense of strength. In embracing the solitude of nature, female solo hiking becomes a means for trauma survivors to rediscover themselves, cultivate inner resilience, and navigate the path toward healing.

Why Females

Traditionally, Gen X women have been defined by their caregiver roles. As such, we invite other to care-take us, as if we are fragile and need protecting. When your loved ones hear your plans to hike solo, expect backlash.

The idea that the woods are a safe place for women to explore independently is not a popular notion. Crime TV shows do not help to dissolve the fears of society at large. No wonder solo female hiking gets such a bad rap. Don’t be discouraged, this is the reason why you will be that much more empowered once you complete your first solo hike and in no time you’ll be an avid trail blazer. Now, let me introduce you to why solo female hiking is worth it!

It dispels the myth that you need other people to protect you or keep you company to be safe and have a good time. The reality is, you don’t. But you’ll never know that until you walk through the awkward, beginning stages of lifestyle changes.

All you need is water, trail map (or clear markers), and common sense. Take these with you on the trail instead of people, and discover the absolute freedom, peace and joy that keeping your own company provides.

Follow these tips and be ready and armed with facts and strategies if backlash arises.

  1. Always hike populated trail

hikers on the trail

You may assume solo hiking is the same as backcountry, remote hiking. It’s not. The isolated, picturesque trailhead may call out to you and it may be hard to resist, but pick a different route. I promise you you’ll get all the serenity and silence you’re seeking even if that means sharing the trail with others.

There’s always an opportunity to do the remote trails with a hiking group or partner. Don’t tempt fate by going it totally alone. One rule of thumb is to make sure you pass other hikers at least every 5 minutes. Looking for populated trail in a beautiful National Park? Try these trails in the Grand Tetons.

2. Check in with a loved one at the start of your hike and send them your location.

Remember I said solo female hiking has a bad rap? Friends and family need to see it’s not true. Checking in with them shows you take their concerns seriously. And you address them. Checking in accomplishes this. Then after you check in, immediately put your phone on low power mode to conserve your battery. Afterwards, only use your phone sparingly, for example, nature photography.

My family knows when I’m on the trail my phone charge is the top priority and contact me on a limited basis. Never assume an unexpected emergency can’t happen to you. If it does, you must be ready and your phone is literally your lifeline. That includes listening to music and podcasts. Anyway, you chose hiking as a break from the everyday nonstop world of technology. Bask in that! Don’t forget to text them when you get off the trail so they don’t worry unnecessarily about you!

Scenic views of diverse tree species at Hoyt Arboretum within Washington Park, offering a peaceful natural setting for one of the best easy hikes near Portland."

3. Hike peak daylight hours

There’s a few reasons for this, the most obvious one is to ensure you don’t get caught after dark. This can be tricky when you’re trying to capture the perfect sunset photograph. In the beginning, leave the picture taking to someone else. Your safety, especially when you’re just beginning solo hiking, is the most important thing.

The other reason for hiking in peak daylight is wildlife encounters. Animals are more active in the morning, and likely to be sluggish in the afternoon. This is typical for summer hiking. It may seem to be a mixed message since all our lives were told by doctors to stay out of peak sunlight hours. However, a hat and sunscreen will suffice in most circumstances. If you have more serious skin conditions (like me, I am diagnosed sub-acute cutaneous lupus) take extra care to reapply sunscreen, wear protective UV clothing, and choose trails with primary shade. Finally, increase your water intake to compensate for sun exposure and sweating.

eat healthy foods like fruit and granola

4. Bring at least one extra snack

When I’m hiking solo, lost in the sights and sounds of pollinating bees and softly swaying trees, I linger and extend the moment. Maybe you can relate? Unfortunately, I tend to underestimate hunger creeping in. It’s at that point I wish I had thrown in another granola bar or extra carrots. Since I’m never hungry when I head out on the trail, I forget the gnawing pangs that we humans experience when we haven’t eaten for hours.

Bring extra snacks! It’s one more thing to carry, I know, but you’ll be glad you did. Anyway, it’s always a treat to sit down when you’re almost done and enjoy something yummy.

The food will taste better than you expect and resting your legs will give you a burst of energy to finish on a high note. This is even the perfect time to grab your field guide and record your surroundings.

5. Always listen to your gut

Notice I said ‘listen’ to your gut, not just ‘trust’ your gut. Because experience shows you can trust your gut and still make a careless decision. But affirming to ‘listen’ to your gut means you will follow through and honor that intuitive thought that says, ”maybe I shouldn’t…”. Make a vow to yourself before embarking on the trail that your number one priority is your safety. Listening to your gut guarantees that.

6. Give yourself a great big hug when you complete the hike

trauma survivors should hike solo and woman is celebrating at the end of the accomplishment

You did it! Celebrate your accomplishment with a bath and a cup of tea, or anything that makes you feel happy. Relive the moments by going back in your photos to relive the sacred sites and memories you gave yourself. Then, spend your next solo hike dreaming up a future solo travel adventure!

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