General Question

Sunshinegirl11's avatar

Tips on females hiking solo?

Asked by Sunshinegirl11 (698points) 1 week ago from iPhone

I can never find anyone to hike with so I don’t get to hike nearly as much as I’d like. I’m sick of sitting at home waiting on other people’s schedules. I want to live life…

BUT I’m scared of hiking alone. I’ve heard so many horror stories of females hiking alone. When I tell my dad I’m thinking about hiking alone, he tries to convince me otherwise. (He used to be my hiking buddy but now is recovering from an injured leg).

So tomorrow I’m going to do it. A 2.5 hour long hike with patchy service. Safety tips??

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32 Answers

CWOTUS's avatar

This is advice to anyone hiking alone, not just women.

You should have someone that you check in with before you go and give them an expected return time – and a call when you do return – so that they know when you’re overdue, and where you went, the route you expected to take, what you were wearing, etc. This is so that searchers – if necessary – can have an idea of where to look and what to look for.

In addition to that, how well do you know your hiking area? If you know it intimately, including alternate routes in case one is blocked or dangerous for some reason, then you can probably do without a map or chart, but otherwise a printed map or chart (on a weatherproof material or sealed inside a weatherproof bag) may be advisable.

Finally, it helps to have something to use as a lever (or weapon), if that should be necessary: a strong walking stick, for example. That could be used to fend off or disable predators of all kinds, or at least even your odds a bit. A pistol wouldn’t be a bad idea, either, if you are skilled at managing it and can hit what you aim at – and if you’ll handle it safely while carrying and at all times.

tranquilsea's avatar

You should check out local hiking groups in your area. We have Meetup.com to find people who are interested in the same things you are. I’ve had great like with these groups in my area.

Hiking with someone is always preferable over hiking on your own.

If you do go out make sure you are always making noise. And as @CWOTUS said always let people know where you are going EXACTLY and when you expect to be back.

kritiper's avatar

Carry a gun, know how to use it.

BellaB's avatar

What efforts have you made to find a hiking buddy? @tranquilsea ‘s recommendation of Meet-up is very good. I have an acquaintance who recently moved to a new area and she’s found several Meet-up groups to walk and hike with.

MrGrimm888's avatar

I’m a huge fan of mace. A pistol would be great, but if you aren’t comfortable with it it could be bad. Keep the mace in a pocket or somewhere you can reach it. It won’t be worth much packed deep in your pack. If you hear others close by, hide it in a pocket where you can reach it quickly. You can just keep it out of sight until your encounter is over.

A pistol means that you may have to make a good shot, under duress. And tangle with the mental aspects of maybe killing someone.
Depending on where you are hiking, bear mace would be better, or even wasp spray. All are distance weapons, that should negatively effect all mammals you may encounter.

I like the walking stick too. Light, but tough wood.

Most importantly, use common sense, and listen to your gut.

Hope you have fun. Good luck.

Peace n love.

AshlynM's avatar

Some type of defense spray if you don’t like guns and a small knife.

Research the area you’re going. Bring plenty of supplies, first aid kit, water and food that won’t spoil. Also bring a warm jacket in case you get stranded overnight.

Let someone know where you’re going, anything can happen.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Just don’t do it. Join a hiking club.

imrainmaker's avatar

You’re a brave gal!! Be confident but not overconfident even though you might be knowing the area well. Be cautious at every step as there’ll be no one to watch your back.Don’t try any unnecessary things like taking short route to save time even if you don’t know it well. All the best for your trek!! Do let us know how it all went.

Zaku's avatar

(It’s amazing and sad to me how much of consideration this is.)

How about a large dog? Maybe someone else’s large dog. Some people have dogs that don’t get enough walking and would love someone to walk their dog.

(I think a gun is overkill, requires training, is a extra heavy object to have to lug around, and would attract attention and spread the notion that someone might consider carrying a gun around for need of protecting themselves. If it’s concealed, that may require a license to do that, and would take time to get our and ready if an emergency did happen. Also, guns are illegal to carry around in many parks.)

If I were to consider a weapon, my first thought is an expandable baton. Light, compact and generally legal and non-lethal but good for deterring or gimping a would-be attacker.

seawulf575's avatar

Pepper spray for defense, a good bug-out bag in case you get lost. Hiking alone is not really a great idea, man or woman.

flutherother's avatar

I’ve met a few women hiking alone in the hills here. It isn’t that unusual. The dangers are that you get lost or slip and break a leg or get hypothermia. Take a compass and a map, leave details of your route and wear suitable clothing, ie boots, waterproof and warm clothing. Check the weather forecast before you set off. Bringing a whistle might be another idea in case you have to call for help.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

My brother in law used to hike alone quite a bit. On one hike he was bitten by a rattle snake 5–10 miles from the nearest trailhead. Luckily it was a “warning bite” and no venim was injected. This guy has been around the world and back, even Everest base camp and a little snake could have taken him out simply because he was out hiking alone. I used to backpack alone and have had enough uncomfortable encounters with critters and people where I don’t do it by myself now. When I go mountain biking I plan my route where I’m never more than a couple miles from the car or am on a heavily traveled trail. If you must go alone stick to a touristy area or one that has a lot of traffic. Carry pepper spray and something that can make a loud noise like a whistle. A big goddamn stick is a good idea too. I make mine from replacement hickory shovel handles. In a pinch it’s a hell of a weapon. Where legal and in areas that I feel vulnerable I do carry a little .380 pretty rare that you would need something like that but somethingbthat age has taught me is that almost everybody underestimates danger around them and few take enough precaution. That awareness should not get in the way of living. You just havevto be smart about it. Have fun, stay safe.

chyna's avatar

Please let us know how it went.

rojo's avatar

I am not sure how much help this will be but I have noticed that when I have encountered a woman out hiking alone they seem to present an aura of assuredness and self-confidence. I am not sure if this because they had the confidence in themselves to begin hiking alone or whether the self confidence is a result of actually hiking alone. Either way, attitude goes a long way. Also, if you gear looks as if it has actually been used and you know how to use it
Several people mentioned a knife, I do not go out hiking without one and it is worn where access is quick and easily achieved. It does you no good to have to search for a weapon or to have it secured too well to be quickly in hand.

syz's avatar

I go hiking alone all of the time. When I can, I take my (big) dogs with me.

RocketGuy's avatar

In addition to what @CWOTUS said, take a look at the 10 essentials for hiking: http://www.mountaineersbooks.org/Assets/ClientPages/zz_TenEssentials.aspx

You can leave out a few items it you are not far from civilization. Don’t leave out the map and compass, though.

Zissou's avatar

Life is short. Don’t sit around at home when you want to get out there. If you can’t find others to hike with (meetup.com has some very large and active hiking groups in my area), take the reasonable precautions suggested above and get out there. But maybe consider the advantages of getting to know a certain relatively secure area intimately rather than constantly exploring new territories.

Figure out what level of risk you are comfortable with, and what the potential rewards are, and place your bet. That’s life.

MrGrimm888's avatar

I forgot to mention Google Earth. It’s a great way to do some recon before you go somewhere the first time. It can show potential hazards, or potential desirable spots.

Sunshinegirl11's avatar

Hello everyone! Thanks for the advice! I ended up not going on my originally planned route, but went to a more populated area with cellphone service. I got lots of pictures of the changing leaves so it was fun!

Unfortunately I don’t own a gun, and I can’t aim with guns anyways. I do own pepperspray, but may purchase some bear spray since I live in an area with bears.

A week ago a man died because he was bit by a rattlesnake. So I guess rattlers are my biggest concern now!

rojo's avatar

@Sunshinegirl11 glad to hear it went well. Does this mean you are likely to get out there alone again?

Sunshinegirl11's avatar

@rojo I’ll probably stick to the state parks before I go on to more secluded areas!

CWOTUS's avatar

Unfortunately, @Sunshinegirl11, you’ve demonstrated a fundamental flaw in the way many people approach and assess risk. While it may be uppermost in your mind that a man was recently bitten by a rattler and died near you, why would that make that risk – a real risk, to be sure! – your biggest concern?

I’m not saying that it shouldn’t be or that it isn’t. I don’t know your hiking area or the trails or even what part of the country you’re in – and I’m not asking – but what would make rattlers (just to use your example) a bigger or more serious risk than bears (which you also brought up) or wolves, mountain lions… or predatory humans?

By all means you should be aware of the risks of the area that you hike, but don’t just be concerned (or even “most concerned”) about the one you heard of most recently, just because it’s the one being given the most air time.

In most national and state parks in the USA I think that the biggest danger to a solo hiker – and particularly so to a solo female hiker – is probably going to be “other humans”. I don’t know that for certain, but I do know that from coast to coast far, far more humans kill (or rape, or maim) other humans than the number of humans that are injured or killed from all other species of animal combined.

Don’t ignore rattlers, at all, if they’re a risk in your area. Be aware of them, have a plan to deal with them and with snakebite, if it occurs. But talk to the park rangers or administrators or other hikers to get a full picture of ALL likely risks where you plan to be. And then plan accordingly.

MrGrimm888's avatar

Keep in mind, if you live in a area where there are pit vipers, you can purchase “snake boots.” That can protect your more vulnerable lower legs.

Common sense goes a long way too. Use it.

@CWOTUS makes an unfortunately good point. Your biggest concern should be other people, probably. That is what I would want to be prepared for. Some people aren’t necessarily out to kill/rape you. If you’re hiking in the American south, for instance, you could stumble across a moonshine still, or marijuana field. If the “owner” is around, they won’t be happy with you.

Wild dogs, bears, wolves, coyotes, mountain lions, wild boars, alligators, and venomous snakes are realistic issues. People would/should top the list of dangers for a female though, not just when hiking…

Glad you had a good time. Stay inside your comfort zone, be prepared, and you should be fine going forward.

RocketGuy's avatar

It’s sad that women face more danger from other humans than men.

rojo's avatar

If it makes you feel any safer when in the Great Outdoors, a real good friend of mine who has been an outdoorsman all his life was bitten by a rattlesnake one evening while going into his own back door in his suburban neighborhood. He literally had one foot in the house and was bitten on the trailing foot.
Taking into consideration how much time he has spent in the wilderness it really pissed him off that it happened there in his own back yard but he was also extremely grateful that he was such a short distance from the hospital.

now that I read this, I am not sure why I thought it would make you feel safer

MrGrimm888's avatar

@RocketGuy . Life is full of things that are sad. Mother nature is very cruel… Humans are somehow worse…

rojo's avatar

@MrGrimm888 Mother Nature is not cruel. She is indifferent to the individual and that makes her seem cruel.

MrGrimm888's avatar

Indifference would be a exponential upgrade. I will stick with “cruel.” (With all due respect. )

rojo's avatar

for Mother Nature to be cruel to you she would have to give a fuck and that ain’t gonna happen. Sorry dude, but for what it’s worth, I like ya.

MrGrimm888's avatar

^I guess you’re meaning that cruelty would imply intent. I suppose it is a sort of personification.

rojo's avatar

^No, not intent but perspective. Nature is only cruel from a personal perspective. She may seem cruel if she kills you in a sudden ice storm but to the myriad of other creatures that would find your corpse tasty then she is a boon.

flutherother's avatar

Nature gives and takes away, but it is better to have been given than never to have received at all.

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