When I first moved to the Blue Ridge Mountains five years ago, I was very hesitant to hike by myself. I had heard stories, feared for my safety and listened to my mother’s worries way too much. But within the last couple years, my hunger to hike and adventure grew and I decided that I wanted to spend more time in the mountains, even if that meant going alone.
At first I started small, only doing short hikes that are regularly explored and I always made sure to send my location to my dad, just in case. I grew tired of the non-challenging trails and longed for more, so I joined a local hiking community group and met some great people to hike with. But with a demanding work schedule, I didn't always have the same days off as most people in the group. Because of this, I decided to venture out, doing more solo adventures (with my dog of course). The first thing I learned was trust, trusting myself that I can prevail against whatever I may find along the way.
When hiking alone, you begin to listen to your own thoughts and instincts, and as time goes on with each new adventure, you begin to trust yourself more, which turns into self-confidence. As I grew more comfortable with hiking on my own, I began to take on more challenging hikes and pushing myself to complete goals. Not only was I more confident on the trails, I started to feel more confident at work and in my personal life. It was a wonderful realization, these solo hikes were helping me relieve stress and anxiety, as well as helping me grow as an individual.
For me, hiking alone provides an internal reset button, I look forward to getting outside after a long week at work and get excited to plan my adventure each week. There are days when I’m working where I feel myself craving to be outside.
As I grew more comfortable with adventuring on my own, I began to take on more challenging hikes and pushing myself to complete goals. Not only was I more confident on the trails, I started to feel more confident at work and in my personal life. It was a wonderful realization, these solo adventures were helping me relieve stress and anxiety, as well as helping me grow as an individual. I was pushing myself past limits I had set for myself and breaking out of my comfort zone, so I could achieve and learn great things.
I believe that solo adventures are a great way to learn more about yourself and grow as an individual. Though no amount of confidence in yourself will keep you 100% safe, I recommend letting a close friend or family member know where you are going, and bringing along to essentials. Plenty of water, non perishable food, a small first aid kit, and some form of personal protection. I have my dog but I also carry pepper spray, thankfully I have not had to use it.
Outdoor adventuring with friends or family is great, but being out there by yourself is a great form of meditation and it feels like I’m resetting myself. It is something we all need to use as a healthy escape from the everyday and great way to help yourself grow.