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  1. #21

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    Muddy is correct and gives good advice.

    I do mental exercises whenever my brain goes into 'the dark place'...count, recite the alphabet, sing, imagine sweeping the thoughts and fear away with a broom, replace the images with memories of happy times. It takes practice and gets easier with time.

    Start with baby steps and don't beat yourself up if it takes longer than you want. Keep trying.

    Don't let the fear cause you to make risky decisions... i.e. hiking to exhaustion because you're too afraid to stop and camp.

    Do not peer into the darkness...for any reason. You will see shapes and shadows. (It is a trigger for me).

    Admittedly, my fear never goes away but it is well-managed and doesn't prevent me from backpacking solo, mainly in areas with few other hikers.

  2. #22
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    I like being alone and I like backpacking solo, but I'm also nervous about camping completely alone. I prefer to sleep at least a few miles from town or roads, but in hollering distance of a shelter or group campsite. On my 160 mile AT section hike last year, I always tented near the shelter. I never felt like doing so impeded my sense of peace and solitude, and I appreciated the security. As long as you're hiking in popular areas or during a popular season, I wouldn't worry about being alone at the shelter.

    Of course, if it does happen, for me I think I'd cope best with the situation by having my tent set up, food hung, and water all prepared before dark, so that I wouldn't have to leave the perceived cocoon of safety of my tent during the night. I'd keep a knife and/or bear spray / pepper spray easily accessible and listen to music or podcasts to drown out any forest noises to set my imagination off. At least, that's basically what I used to do when I lived alone in a house out in the countryside, far away from any main roads or neighbors. I established a part of the house as my "safe zone" and would stay there at night instead of wandering around dark rooms where shadows or creaking floorboards might convince me there was an intruder. Silly, perhaps, but it worked to trick myself into feeling comfortable.

  3. #23
    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    After reading about the unpleasant events on/near the PCT in Kern County California, I think that I shall double my comfort zone between cell coverage and pavement and my backpacking route. The Thorofare has always looked good on the map.
    Wayne


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  4. #24

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    Take heart from the solo women backpackers who have gone before, like 3 time AT thruhiker Dorothy Laker, world backpacker and traveler Christine Thuermer---see her blog here---

    http://christine-on-big-trip.blogspo...out-me_03.html

    And this is important---

    http://christine-on-big-trip.blogspo...mentality.html

    Here are some of the solo women backpackers I've seen in the last several years---

    Trip 88 032-L.jpg
    Trickster thruhiked the BMT and rests on Whiggs Meadow in TN.

    TRIP 109 080-L.jpg
    Tru also thruhiked the BMT and is climbing up Sycamore Creek trail.

    TRIP 115 266-L.jpg
    TRIP 115 423-L.jpg
    Regina Reiter is a 4 time BMT thruhiker.

    TRIP 141 045-L.jpg
    Here's German Tourist in the Big Frog wilderness.

    Trip 156 277-XL.jpg
    Chantelle pulling a solo backpack up Slickrock Creek.

    TRIP 174 021-XL.jpg
    TRIP 174 597-XL.jpg
    Amy Willow soloed the AT on a thruhike in 2006.

    TRIP 174 419-XL.jpg
    TRIP 174 429-XL.jpg
    Late Start pulled the Mountains to Sea trail as a solo hike.

  5. #25
    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    You forgot Heather Anderson.
    Heather began the backpacking season by soloing the Oregon Desert Trail in May. She is currently on the CDT in The Bob. Look it up. 125+ miles between road crossings.
    Heather is the real deal. She hikes the long trails solo and self supported.
    Wayne


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  6. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by Venchka View Post
    You forgot Heather Anderson.
    Wayne


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    If I saw Heather on the trail I would've put up her pic. But you remind me of another Heather who I met backpacking solo on the MST on Gragg Prong---

    TRIP 157 173.jpg
    Heather Housekeeper pulling her 2nd MST hike.

    Her blog here---

    http://thebotanicalhiker.blogspot.co...=2014-01-01T00

  7. #27

  8. #28
    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    I follow Heather Anderson on Instagram. Very low key.
    Make that 200+ miles without a road crossing in Montana.


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  9. #29
    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    How about Kate through the first half of the Montana Wilderness. Yes. There be bears.
    https://www.google.com/amp/s/kateont...ark-ranch/amp/
    Wayne


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  10. #30

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    ..........
    Last edited by Traffic Jam; 07-11-2017 at 18:11.

  11. #31
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    I'm in this boat when hiking at night. I flip myself out thinking things are stalking me. All the sounds seem amplified and my senses overload. It takes effort for me to rationalize what the real risks are. I'm most likely to be harmed in a car accident or by disease as opposed to being harmed by anthing (wild or not) on the AT. For me it's a numbers thing and that the thought of the safety of being alone on the AT is what lets me let go and put it aside.
    Quote Originally Posted by Traffic Jam View Post
    Muddy is correct and gives good advice.

    I do mental exercises whenever my brain goes into 'the dark place'...count, recite the alphabet, sing, imagine sweeping the thoughts and fear away with a broom, replace the images with memories of happy times. It takes practice and gets easier with time.

    Start with baby steps and don't beat yourself up if it takes longer than you want. Keep trying.

    Don't let the fear cause you to make risky decisions... i.e. hiking to exhaustion because you're too afraid to stop and camp.

    Do not peer into the darkness...for any reason. You will see shapes and shadows. (It is a trigger for me).

    Admittedly, my fear never goes away but it is well-managed and doesn't prevent me from backpacking solo, mainly in areas with few other hikers.
    Plaid is fast! Ticks suck, literally...
    Follow my hiking adventures: https://www.youtube.com/user/KrizAkoni
    Follow me on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/alphagalhikes/

  12. #32
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    I try to get everything set and be in my tent before it's pitch black out. Something about walking around in the dark makes my fears worse. Also, if I'm anxious about other things (can I get this bear bag hung before dark, etc) I'll be more anxious about being alone, so in general being prepared helps.

    I also keep a knife, pepper spray, headlamp, and phone I'm one spot in my tent so I can grab if needed. Not sure what good that stuff will do but it makes me feel better.

    For me, I don't think I'm going to completely get over being afraid when I'm sleeping solo in the wilderness. But I've decided to do it anyway. It does get less scary the more I do it.

  13. #33

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    Don't camp near roads. People that want to cause you trouble are generally too lazy to walk more than a mile from a road. I made that mistake one time...it was starting to get dark, came across a poorly maintained dirt road. I thought "this is in the middle of nowhere, nobody is going to drive up here at night." Set my tent up about 10 feet from the road. Around midnight I heard a 4 wheel drive coming up the mountain. Drunk kids spent a few minutes throwing beer bottles at my tent trying to get me to come out. I just ignored them and finally they went away.

  14. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by Traffic Jam View Post
    For some people, knowing you are totally alone is when the fear kicks in.
    Yep. I'm usually alone. My hiking partner backs out more often than he joins me. I, too struggle when I'm alone, more so when I'm not in or near a shelter or campsite around other people.
    After 7 trips, it's going away. Last month, on my first night out for my 8th section, I slept like a baby. I was surprised, because I was at a campsite rather than a shelter, and was completely alone. I think it's from reading this forum, learning that I am in FACT safer out in my tent than I am driving up to go hiking, and consciously reminding myself of it frequently.

    Last November I hiked 85 miles north of Damascus alone. The most "alone" I've ever been on the AT. The whole week, I spend exactly ONE night in a shelter with someone else. No cell reception at all for several days at a time. I didn't sleep well for reasons described earlier: every sound was an animal out to get me. I tripped on a root or rock around day three, and realized it wasn't very prudent or safe being so alone with no way to call for help and very reduced opportunities of other hikers coming along to help. It spooked me a bit. I decided that I won't be going hiking alone in the off season again, unless I'm sure there is cell reception or I get a Spot or something.

  15. #35
    Registered User Suzzz's Avatar
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    In 4 days from now I'll be starting my first section of the AT... solo. The prospect of sleeping alone, as I mentionned in a previous post on this thread, already keeps me up at night! I know it's mind over matter and I also know that the likeliness of something bad actually happening is fairly small, yet Im still worried. But I'm determined to do this and I know that whether I'm scared of not, there will come a time when I'm so exhausted that I'll fall asleep anyway. I know I'll sleep like a baby if there are other hikers nearby, the problem will be if no one is around but I'll cross that bridge when I get to it and I'll have my cell/knife/pepper spray close to me in case of emergency. In any event, I'll be on the trail in a few days and I can't wait!!!

  16. #36
    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    Suzzz,
    You'll be fine! Have a great hike!
    You carry more ammunition than I do, which is none.
    You're good!
    Wayne


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  17. #37

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    Quote Originally Posted by Suzzz View Post
    In 4 days from now I'll be starting my first section of the AT... solo. The prospect of sleeping alone, as I mentionned in a previous post on this thread, already keeps me up at night! I know it's mind over matter and I also know that the likeliness of something bad actually happening is fairly small, yet Im still worried. But I'm determined to do this and I know that whether I'm scared of not, there will come a time when I'm so exhausted that I'll fall asleep anyway. I know I'll sleep like a baby if there are other hikers nearby, the problem will be if no one is around but I'll cross that bridge when I get to it and I'll have my cell/knife/pepper spray close to me in case of emergency. In any event, I'll be on the trail in a few days and I can't wait!!!
    You have a great attitude! Have a wonderful hike and be sure to report back and let us know how it goes.

  18. #38
    Registered User Suzzz's Avatar
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    Thanks Venchka and Traffic Jam!

    I'll report back once I'm back home.

  19. #39
    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    Suzz,
    You're welcome!
    Wayne


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  20. #40
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    I agree that other people are realistically the biggest threat you have. You can minimize your contact with creeps/drunk folks by avoiding shelters that are close to road crossings, being prepared to leave a shelter if your gut tells you to, and being ready to say "my husband/friend/roommates are a few miles behind me" if someone starts probing, asking if you're "alone" (as opposed to "solo"), and the conversation feels off.

    I don't carry a weapon other than trekking poles and I pretty much always feel safe when I'm out solo with those rules. I do sometimes feel uneasy (way different than "unsafe" or "afraid") when it comes to night critters - I will involuntarily yelp if a frog jumps in front of me during a night run. I accept my reaction as something I can't necessarily control, but I don't let it control me. I've been caught off-guard by critter eyes reflecting in my headlamp and rustling noises in bear country outside my hammock/tarp (which is WAY more exposed than a tent), but I didn't let adrenaline get the better of me. Mentally I told myself, "ok, I'm kinda startled but this is pretty cool" and "I don't know what's out there and that's okay. I don't really want to know anyway. Maybe it's a bear that will at worst paw at my tarp and move on, and I'll give it a warning yell if needed, but it's probably a cricket." To avoid these situations, you can pee right before getting in your shelter, and get settled before it gets dark if you have that option. If you struggle with keeping your fears in check, you could try mindfulness practices that allow you to listen to the sounds going on without attaching emotions to them.

    I also remind myself that out in the woods I'm experiencing God and his creations, and that I'm going out there partially to seek that closer experience - which works if you're into that. Some of my relatives carry "trail mascots" i.e. little plush toys, and I have a St. Christopher medallion tucked into my pack. Does it do anything on its own? Of course not. But it's a nice reminder of my faith in an ordered universe. If you don't have any objects connected to your faith, simply get something pretty, lightweight, and perhaps with no practical value, and make it your good luck charm.

    The more you get out there, the easier it'll get. And the more fierce solo lady hikers you'll meet who will show you how you can be unafraid.

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