A long solo hike can be the most rewarding experience of your lifetime. Do not lose out on this phenomenon just because you gave into fears about being alone outside. Let’s make a list of the most common fears independent hikers have and discuss how to overcome these obstacles.
Seeing a wild animal can be the highlight of any trip but be careful and understand how to properly handle an animal encounter. As a human, you are the apex predator in every single ecosystem on the planet. Remember this when you engage with wild animals and control the situation.
1. Do not act aggressive or make sudden movements. The animal in question is watching you, it is uncomfortable with your presence and it will react based on how you proceed. Any aggressive behavior on your part can frighten the animal, triggering its survival instincts. When an animal believes it is in danger it will either run away or fight back. By staying calm, keeping your head up, and talking to the animal, it immediately distinguishes you from a prey species cementing your place at the top of the food chain.
2. Leave the vicinity immediately. For the most part, talking to the animal while backing away slowly in a confident manner will defuse most animal encounters. 99% of the time the animal will have run away before you even have a chance to snap a picture. Never try to get closer to an animal, this is how accidents happen. By limiting contact as much as possible, it not only protects you but the animal too. If a creature has a fear of humans, it will most likely keep its distance and never become a nuisance that will have to be killed.
These two tips will protect you in nearly every situation you may find yourself in. Before undergoing any trip, understand the species that live in the area and research species specific tips for added security.
Every grand adventure will eventually lead into remote areas devoid of civilization. Without roads and wireless signals it is easy to lose your way and start walking in circles. Knowing a few basic tips for this situation will ensure your survival.
1. Stay calm. Fear can be a beneficial emotion, it drives adrenalin into the bloodstream and can propel an average human to do superhuman feats. However, fear will not help you find your way. All that adrenalin and panic will only serve to exhaust you and can lead to even more dire outcomes. Stay calm, assess the situation, stop moving and sit down.
2. Reflect on the immediate desires your body has. If you are hot, get out of the sun, remove a layer of clothing; if you are thirsty, take a drink of water, etc. Performing these small tasks will calm your mind and give you a sense of control over reality. Once you are calm and in control, then you can begin the process of becoming unlost.
3. Assess daylight. If the sun is setting soon, it is not smart to wander in the dark. A good trick is to extend your fingers, keeping them together, and straighten the hand. With your arm fully extended, hold your palm to the sun and count how many hands it takes to fill the space from the sun to the horizon. However many hands it is will tell you approximately how many hours are left in the day.
4. Find North. If you do not have a compass, you can still find north. The sun sets in the west and rises in the east. Understand if the sun is setting or rising, and extrapolate which direction North is
Exposure, dehydration, and starvation
Succumbing to the elements or failing to fuel your body can be life threatening. Do not let a simple situation like being lost devolve into a more complicated survival scenario.
1. Seek refuge from the weather. If you are lost, do not just stand in the sun or the rain, get to shelter. If you have a tent, set it up, if not, find some large rocks or trees to relax under.
2. Carry food and water on every trip. Always have food and water with you while enjoying the outdoors. Carrying at least 2 liters of water and enough food for at least one meal will help if you find yourself lost.
Solo hiking can be fun, adventurous, and addicting. Do not be afraid of what might happen, instead, prepare for the worst. Live the life you want to live by participating in activities that make you happy. Overcome that fear and get outside!
Check out this popular video on youtube outlining in detail what to do if you become lost.