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How to Safely Solo Hike

Solitary bliss

There is a time for people, and a time to be alone. Some of us long to enjoy the serenity of the outdoors in a solitary manner. No one else’s pace to keep up with – or slow us down. No sounds other than the sounds of nature. No agenda but our own. With many well maintained trails to choose from in Washington, solo hiking can be a great summertime activity. However, if you’re going to hit the trail solo there are a few tips to adhere to to make sure you make it safely in and out.

Notify Someone

You may hit the trail alone, but someone should know when and where you’re going. Give a detailed itinerary to friends and family, including where you’re hiking and when you anticipate both starting and ending. When you complete the hike, notify this individual that you are safely on your way home. You should decide on a “panic time” – a time at which the individual should call 911 if you haven’t reached out yet. When deciding this time, give yourself a buffer of time from when you anticipate finishing.

Things to bring

You will want to bring along a physical map, or download an offline map on your phone. This can help you find your way back out after a few missteps. In addition, it’s wise to have an in-reach or other satellite device that doesn’t require cell service to send an SOS. Make sure before leaving that this device is fully charged. In case of emergency, if you activate this device make sure you stay in the same spot so you can be located.

In addition to the typical gear you need for your hike, its wise to bring along equipment (such as a sleeping bag) that will allow you to survive an overnight in case you get lost or injured.

Be smart

Lastly, be smart about your trip. Before leaving, be sure to check weather conditions. Solo hiking just isn’t wise in sketchy conditions. However, the weather is also prone to change quickly. If this happens while you’re on the hike, it’s wise to turn around – even if you’re itching to make it to that next peak. Know your limits and stay well within them. Now is not the time to wonder if you can scale up that rock face. Avoid encounters with wildlife. Assume the bear does not want to be pet. Choose a trail you’re familiar with so you can give accurate expectations of timing to your emergency contact. Be wise, and have fun!

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