Courtney is a self-confessed crazy female solo hiker. Here, she shares her experiences and lessons learned over the years.
Growing up in the Glass House Mountains I have always considered myself as a mountain girl and nature enthusiast. Since attaining my driver’s license there has been no stopping me – summiting almost every mountain within a two-hour radius of my home.
As life become more complicated and I attempted to balance family commitments, multiple jobs and a full-time uni load, it became difficult to find time to hike, let alone organise others to come on hiking trips, which commenced my journey in hiking alone.
Hiking alone has included some of the most rewarding and heart racing moments of my life!
I stood alone on a winter’s day on the top of Queenstown Hill in New Zealand. As I looked out, my breath was taken away at the sheer wonder of the snowy peaks surrounding me. There was an indescribable feeling of certainty in myself and beauty realizing that I was a part of this incredible world. Moments of embracing this completeness and serenity I’ve only ever felt whilst I have hiked alone.
On the flip side, hiking alone can be rather sketchy. Despite thinking I’m brave and have some sense of direction, I’ve managed to get myself lost on several occasions (often bush bashing my way down mountains). I’ve screamed at the sight of snakes and have been paranoid at the sound the wind has made through the trees.
Being well prepared cannot be expressed enough. It is also important to know yourself and to be able to have some control over moments of fear or anxiety, (self-talk usually helps – “Courtney the snake is minding its own business and probably couldn’t be bothered wasting its time biting you”).
Over the past year I’ve gained a lot of experience and insight into both the good and bad of solo hiking so here’s three things I’ve discovered:
# 1 Everyone is going to think you’re crazy!
After hiking in numerous locations across QLD and NSW I decided I would commence my first solo hiking adventure to the Tasmanian wilderness, and everyone I told thought I was going to die. This is a normal reaction, especially being a young female, my advice is – don’t panic!
There is no disputing that there are high risks involved in hiking by yourself (i.e. injuries, changing weather conditions, getting lost to name a few).
These risks can be minimalised by a few key things:
- Ensuring you’re up to date on first aid
- Have a thorough understanding of how to use a map and compass
- Are well prepared for weather conditions
- Tell people of your intended hike
- Carry safety tools (i.e. first aid kit, PLB, pepper spray)
Start with small, well-populated hikes and areas that you are familiar with and attempt new/more challenging/secluded hikes with other people first if possible.
If you’re multi day hiking, make the effort to meet and mingle with new people – in my experience hikers are the friendliest people!
# 2 You’ll get some interesting photographs.
I’m not a huge selfie taker, (much prefer a ‘shoefie’ – pic of your shoes and view), but like most millennials, I like photographs a lot! If you’re by yourself you’ve got to get creative, I often prop my phone with rocks and sticks and set it on a timer if I want to get any shots of myself against a cool background.
# 3 Ultimately you’ll learn a lot about yourself!
Getting out there, challenging yourself and connecting with nature deepens your understanding of who you are and what you enjoy and want from life, it’s definitely an enriching experience!