Hiking clubs had never interested me when I was younger. Being introverted, I truly enjoy hiking alone in the wilderness. I particularly like the freedom; I can decide where I will hike, the route I’ll take, how frequently I will take breaks, how long I’ll stay out, and the type of pace I want to keep. And there are many people out there just like me. But there are six good reasons why you should break up the hiking-solo pattern and consider adding a hiking club to your mix.
There is Safety in Numbers
Even with the best plan, unfortunate events can still occur on the trail, whether it’s a twisted ankle, an adverse effect to exposure of the elements, or even a regrettable encounter with wildlife. For instance, hiking in groups can significantly reduce the chances of running into an aggressive bear. And if there’s an injury on the trail, someone can always run for help.
Sometimes the cost of accessing some hiking trails can be high, depending on the destination and the transportation and trail access needs. Travelling in groups can help reduce the cost.
Learn From Others
People come to the group with different experiences and knowledge. Some are informed about hiking gear, some know a thing or two about the wildlife, and, most astonishingly to me, some people really know a lot about the native plant life, not just the scientific names, but the medicinal uses as well. It’s unlikely I would delve deeply into any one of those topics myself, so I’ve been able to learn quite a bit because of the conversations I’ve had with others.
Learn About New Trails
Sometimes the group will select a trail that I have never hiked before, and perhaps never intended to. I have a few hikes and scrambles that I really enjoy and tend to default to them from time to time. But I have been pleasantly surprised by some of the excellent trails I’ve hiked as a result of being with a group.
Maybe it’s just me, but after hiking solo for a long time, the little mental conversations I have with myself really start to annoy me, to the point where I just want to tell myself to shut up. Too much solitude makes me wacky and even the introvert in me wants some human connection. I still enjoy frequently hiking solo, but it helps me to be with a group from time to time to feel connected to others and to activate my mind.
Although I usually wake early and am excited to greet a new day, sometimes I need a little nudge to finally get me out the door. It’s not every day that I feel like donning the hiking boots and heading to the trail, but when I finally am on the trail, I’m happiest. And since disappointing my friends is high on my list of undesirables, committing to hiking with them is the motivation I sometimes need to get going. And heading to a nice street cafe with them afterward is the icing on the cake. Mmm.
Enjoy the trails solo – there is wonder and serenity in doing so. But I encourage you to add a hiking group to your repertoire to more fully enjoy the experiences of the trail. Happy hiking!