The book “Wild,” chronicling Cheryl Strayed’s solo trek along the Pacific Crest Trail, depicts some frightening encounters on the trail. While they are based on true stories, encounters like these are extremely rare. Still, the last thing you want to worry about when exploring the backcountry is other human beings.
If you’re gearing up to go on your first solo trip, follow these steps to have a safe, successful, worry-free adventure in the wild.
Peace of mind is the name of the game when it comes to gear on the trail. The best tool is the one you never have to use, but these are a few things that can help you stay safe and feel protected in the wilderness:
Garmin InReach Explorer – The scariest part about being in the backcountry alone is that you literally can’t call for help. Most places worth hiking don’t have cell phone reception, which can make you feel vulnerable when detached from a signal.
The InReach solves this by using GPS and a satellite connection to send text messages, make calls or send out an SOS if all you can do is press a single button. Going for around $400, they’re not cheap, but you can usually rent one from your local gear shop.
Bear Spray – As the name implies, this is an extremely potent spray to use in case of a charging bear, so imagine what it would do to a human being. But don’t take it lightly; anyone who gets sprayed will be in for a very bad time. However, if you are clearly in danger, this spray will deter any attacker.
Firearms – Carrying a firearm on the trail solely for safety purposes is not recommended, especially when you have a can of bear spray at your hip. But if you want to get into target or sport shooting or hunting, check out your options for rifles and safety courses to get started. This way you can broaden your horizons outdoors and further ensure peace of mind.
Now that you know the statistics and have the right gear, there are a few common-sense tactics to keep yourself safe on the trail:
- If you don’t want to be feel completely alone, try hiking within eyesight of another group.
- Don’t hesitate to call out for help if you’re in a dangerous situation. Chances are, someone even a mile away will hear you.
- Find campgrounds along the trail with other campers — there’s strength in numbers.
- If you’re going on a long through hike, find a female friend going at the same pace. You don’t have to hike side-by-side the whole time, but this is someone you can count on seeing at the campsite each night.
- You don’t owe anyone a smile or a friendly hello. If you feel like everyday friendliness might give the wrong impression to a male hiker, skip it.
Any real danger on the trail, whether you’re prepared for it or not, is unlikely. All the same, by following the steps above and stay aware of your surrounding, you can focus more on the beautiful scenery around you than on other campers.
Identity Magazine is all about guiding women to discover their powers of Self-Acceptance, Appreciation, and Personal Achievement. We ask that every contributor and expert answer the Identity 5 questions in keeping with our theme. Their answers can be random and in the moment or they can be aligned with the current article they have written. In that way, and as a team, we hope to encourage and motivate each other, thus inspiring you to Get All A’s.
1. What have you accepted within your life, physically and/or mentally? Additionally, what are you still working on accepting? Now, we’re not talking about resignation, rather stepping into, embraced, and owned.
I’ve accepted that for the foreseeable future, I will probably never have a home that will be featured in a Martha Stewart magazine—with kids, a hubby and 5 pets we have a lot of “stuff” in our home. I’m still working on accepting that my kids are getting older and some day they will move out….which means maybe I will get a shot at that Martha Stewart photo shoot one day!
2. What have you learned to appreciate about yourself and/or within your life, physically and mentally? On the other hand OR in contrast, are there elements of who you are that you’re still working on appreciating?
I have learned to appreciate that I’m a good friend to people and that I’m always there for them when I need them. I think I’m still working on appreciating how stepping on Legos at 2 a.m. in bare feet just means you have happy kids in the home who enjoy playing with their toys.
3. What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life? Tell us not only what makes YOU most proud but also share the goals and dreams that you still have.
My most rewarding achievement by far is being a mom. My two sons make me so proud and I love being with them. As for goals and dreams, I would love to rent an RV one day and drive around the country with my family.
4. Of course, we all have imperfections, or so we think. In truth, we are all perfectly imperfect. What are your not-so-perfect ways? Likewise, what imperfections and quirks create who you are—your Identity?
My main imperfection that comes to mind is that I’m not great at getting enough rest. I have one son who is an early bird and one who is a night owl and so to spend time with each of them I’m typically up early and up late.
5. “I Love My…” is an outlet for you to appreciate and express all the positive traits that make you…well…YOU! In fact, sharing what you love about yourself will make you smile, feel empowered, and uplift your spirit and soul. (We assure you!) Therefore, Identity challenges you to complete the phrase “I Love My…?”
A dear friend of mine once told me “You should never say anything about yourself that you wouldn’t say to a best friend or your mom.” I really took this to heart and strive to avoid all negative self-talk, even when said in jest. I love my positive self-talk!