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Thread: Hiking alone...

  1. #1

    Default Hiking alone...

    I know you're supposed to hike with other people, but sometimes that isn't an option. I mostly hike from the trailheads near Anchorage like Prospect Heights, Glen Alps, and some on the Turnagain Arm. If I hike alone with a bear bell and make sufficient noise, is there really anything to worry about in these locations? Most hikes tend to get above the treeline pretty quickly anyways. Am I being naive?

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Nope, I hike alone all the time. In my experience, though, bears aren't really what you need to worry about. I'm always more concerned about falling and breaking a leg or something of the sort. I would suggest carrying a cell phone and letting someone know where you're going. Obviously you can't always get cell reception in the mountains of Alaska, but sometimes you can from the peaks...and if not, at least by late in the evening someone will be looking for you. I've had some close calls when out alone, but it's a worthwhile risk as long as someone knows where to find me.

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    Member COtoAK's Avatar
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    Default Hiking Solo

    Not being naive at all about it... let me affirm you on that.
    Most of my hikes and climbs are solo. Most times I prefer this only because it's truly my time 'away' and I really enjoy my time away.
    I think that the thing I like to remind hikers is to always be prepared. Have an emergency kit. Do you have GPS even if it's hand held or on your phone? (Both my Cingular and my ACS phone have GPS)
    Ask yourself a few questions, too. What would you do if you saw a bear or other potentially violent wildlife? What would you do if you couldn't walk? What would you do if you fell from a cliff to a valley? If you had to lighten your pack, what could you leave and what would you take? Can you survive and overnight or multiple overnights if you were stuck somewhere? Are you familiar topographically where you are hiking?
    I think that the most important thing that you could do is leave detailed notes on where you will be hiking at with someone and set a time for point of contact with them. I have done this with all my hikes and only once was there a scare (because I miscalculated time it took to summit and I didn't have cell phone service in that area of Colorado).
    All in all, preparation makes all the difference.
    Another good example are the 2 rescues this year on Mt. Hood. First rescue was unsuccessful in December because they didn't outline exactly where they were climbing. It wasn't until the injured climber was able to get 'ping' reception from his phone. Until this very day, he's still the only one of 3 climbers recovered.
    The other rescue was successful. This one was early this year. Two climbers fell and the other two climbers went for help, if I remember that correctly. They also had mapped and outlined exactly where they would be and all members of their climbing party were rescued.
    One point of encouragement on hiking alone would be Aron Ralston. If you don't know his story, google it. He was climbing alone in the Moab, Utah area.
    ....so.... there you go.
    Those are my thoughts on hiking alone.
    Do it.
    Don't look back on it.
    Lurker.

  4. #4

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    Thanks for your responses! I have a good handheld GPS that I take on every hike. I also bring my cell phone and usually have reception on the hikes and climbs near Anchorage. I figured I was being safe but just wanted to make sure I wasn't crazy. COtoAK, Do you really live in a tent? I'm about to go from AK to CO... moving to Boulder August 5th.

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    Member COtoAK's Avatar
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    Default Yes!

    Yes. I really do live in a tent (currently because we are under construction for our apartment ... and the brief on it is it's above our airplane hangar and our office/workout space)
    It's a Cabela's Tent... some kind of hunting tent. Alaknak tent.
    Yes... from CO, too. Too bad we will miss you when you move up to Boulder.
    Gosh... aren't there so many places that I could tell you to go.
    There is great hiking behind the Jon Benet house and there are GREAT places up Boulder Creek.
    You want some action? Go tubing from Boulder Falls all the way back into Boulder... so much stinking fun!
    I am going to be doing that with my kids, my neice, nephew and my sister here in about 10 days!
    WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
    and WOOOOOOOOOO for Boulder!
    (It's where Big Head Todd and the Monsters are from, too)
    And... be sure to visit the 'Hill' ....
    You will know what I am talking about once you get there.
    ...and Boulder and Fox Theaters for GREAT music!!!
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  6. #6

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    I actually went to CU my freshman year of college in 2003. I transferred to Tennessee and am going back to CU for grad school. I've been to the Fox a couple times and I'll be living on the hill... On Pleasent... right in the middle of everything. I didn't have a car when I was there in 2003 so I'm a lot more excited about going back this time... Glad I already know a bunch of people too.. I can't wait

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    That's awesome!
    I lived in Tennessee briefly for baout 6 months, too... but then determine that the college I had selected was definitely not for me (they wouldn't let me rock climb because it wasn't lady like... WHAT ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!!!)
    Boulder is great. I am REAL sad that I missed the Kinetic Challenge on the Res this year. There isn't alot that's going on when I am in town down there, but we have plans on doing the drive up to Rocky Mountain National Park to get to Granby and Grand Lake for the 4th of July (hopefully, because at least one sister will be on the lake and sailing sure does sound like fun!!)
    Well, be sure that you are able to take a day to go and tube down Boulder Creek before the monsoon moisture hits, because then you will be dealing with flooding and won't be able to hop in the Creek until the flooding subsides. They have it every year up there on the Creek.
    Oh... and visit Noodles and Company. (smiles)
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    Another southerner here. I was born in Georgia, lived there till I finished my undergrad at Tech, moved to Fort Collins, CO and got a masters (GO RAMS! BOO BUFFS!), and then moved up to Alaska. It's a small world.

    I too hike alone for the same reasons (i.e. don't want to have to set things up with others, no one wants to hike for as long as I do, don't like schedules, etc.) As long as you are pretty loud on the trail and pack some sort of bear deterrent (spray or gun) you ought to be alright. However, I would recommend bringing a personal beacon along if you can afford it. My parents got me one after hearing all of the stories of me being 6 miles in someplace and almost dieing. They help with piece of mind for you and loved ones.

    Have fun and hit me up if you want to do any death marches.

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    Member COtoAK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hotdiggity View Post
    Another southerner here. I was born in Georgia, lived there till I finished my undergrad at Tech, moved to Fort Collins, CO and got a masters (GO RAMS! BOO BUFFS!), and then moved up to Alaska. It's a small world.

    I too hike alone for the same reasons (i.e. don't want to have to set things up with others, no one wants to hike for as long as I do, don't like schedules, etc.) As long as you are pretty loud on the trail and pack some sort of bear deterrent (spray or gun) you ought to be alright. However, I would recommend bringing a personal beacon along if you can afford it. My parents got me one after hearing all of the stories of me being 6 miles in someplace and almost dieing. They help with piece of mind for you and loved ones.

    Have fun and hit me up if you want to do any death marches.
    Oh.... laughing my socks off.
    Go Rams?
    Well... I won't say much in the light of Colorado is Colorado and I'll root for any Colorado team!!!

    Good thinking on the beacon. I forget how important something so intricate could be on a climb/hike.
    Cell phones will still radiate a ping as well, so that's helpful as long as you are able to keep high battery on it. My cell phone has GPS, so that helps, too.

    Where were you 6 miles out while doing a solo climb?

    My personal experience was about 8 miles out on Mt. Antero (Buena Vista, CO) about 4 years ago. Post holing was TERRIBLE and I only saw one other person up there because it was so early in the season. I was lucky even to see that guy. I tried to run as fast as I could down the mountain to go and catch up with him, but I couldn't find him. I think that it was the hardest I have ever ran down a mountain... and the most soaked I ever was because of the rain.
    That's the last time I go THAT unprepared on a climb.
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    I was in the middle of RMNP fishing and slipped and busted my butt and almost fell into a slot canyon. I guess if you are looking at how far away I was from a road it was about 3 miles (trail ridge) and about 2 miles from a trail (fern lake). I don't really climb, I just look for dead things and antlers and fish. My stomping grounds were in Northern Colorado so I've covered a lot of ground up there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hotdiggity View Post
    I was in the middle of RMNP fishing and slipped and busted my butt and almost fell into a slot canyon. I guess if you are looking at how far away I was from a road it was about 3 miles (trail ridge) and about 2 miles from a trail (fern lake). I don't really climb, I just look for dead things and antlers and fish. My stomping grounds were in Northern Colorado so I've covered a lot of ground up there.
    I Love Love Love RMNP, but I don't like Estes Park because it has too many tourists. I usually would drive up Poudre Canyon through Ft. Collins because it's a better but longer drive and I always loved taking the drive all the way to the other side of RMNP to Granby. I also loved doing Fall River Road so if you ever do make another trip in that direction, do Fall River Road because it's one way, scenic, and worth your time to do it! (I did it about 2 years ago!!)

    If you didn't want to do a whole lot of climbing, I would suggest doing Sprague Lake.
    I don't have any current pictures of it, but this is what I found for you:

    There is another lake that I would suggest, but it's mainly just a simple walking trail in the summer time. It's far better for snowshoeing in the winter time.
    Are you back in Colorado, then?
    Will you be hiking/climbing/walking it solo?
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    I'm up in the greatland now, I will be going back to Colorado for 4th season deer and elk. I went up to the area around lake arrowhead and donut and some other lakes too. That was a fun one, I hiked down from trail ridge road at the fern lake overlook, dropped into the valley and fished it, and then hiked up to the lakes and traversed up some waterfalls to Lake Arrowhead. I met some guys and one had altitude sickness so I helped them pack out to Poudre Lake where I proceeded to get altitude sickness since I wasn't drinking any water. It was a really long but fun trip, lots and lots of greenies.


    I started where the road is on the far mountain above timberline. There were lots of marmots.








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    I am in my 50's and usually can't get anyone to go out with me other than one or more of my dogs. I climb the Butte multiple times a week year round. I do Lazy Mountain, McRoberts Creek/Mat Peak, Pioneer Peak, and Mt. Marmot up in Hatcher Pass...1-10 hour hikes depending on my mood. I see numerous people sometimes, none others. I take a Cell phone, water, and basics. My camera is my best friend and I have never had a *bad* encounter with a critter. The dogs help some. I have used my GPS only when in a new area to check for elevation and distances...hard to get lost in these areas.
    "...and then Jack chopped down the beanstock, adding murder and ecological vandalism to the theft, enticement and vandalism charges already mentioned, but he got away with it and lived happily ever after without so much as a guilty twinge about what he had done. Which proves that you can be excused just about anything if you're a hero, because no one asks the inconvenient questions." Terry Pratchett's The Hogfather

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    COtoAK's earlier post is right on. I also hike a lot on my own, most of the time actually, and some of my solo trips have been remote hiking and packrafting trips almost 200 miles long. Even if you're heading out for a solo day trip, make sure you have enough to suffer through the night if necessary, and it is always a good idea to tell someone where you're going, or leave a note, or SOMETHING.

    But, we shouldn't be afraid of the "what if's" so much that it deters us from doing anything! Just be careful, be conservative, trust yourself and your skills, and have fun! No matter how careful we are, there are always wild cards such as wildlife encounters and natural events out of our control like rockfall, adverse weather, etc. The truth is, the "what if's" are ever present in our lives, no matter where we are or who we're with. I worry a lot more about getting in a car wreck (even though I rarely drive) than having a negative bear encounter when I'm out solo.

    Sometimes the biggest risk in life is not taking any risks.

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    Hey, Thanks!
    It was quite some time ago when I had posted on that. Last hike I did solo this year was June 6th. I'll probably do another one around that time, but somewhere else on the Denali Hwy. There is so much of Alaska to discover.

    More and more, though, I am finding that I really enjoy having my husband along with my trips. Maybe because he can pack more than I can. (smiles)

    All in all, though, if a solo hike is what you want to do, be prepared. There is nothing wrong with hiking solo. Actually, there are many advantages to hiking solo... but in light of saying that, there are also disadvangages, too.
    Lurker.

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    Quote Originally Posted by COtoAK View Post
    Hey, Thanks!
    It was quite some time ago when I had posted on that. Last hike I did solo this year was June 6th.
    I had not read this thread before COtoAK. Those are some fantastic pictures you got there.
    Never count your days, but rather, make all of your days count.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jmg View Post
    I had not read this thread before COtoAK. Those are some fantastic pictures you got there.
    Actually, the only picture that I posted was of Sprague Lake, RMNP.
    The other was from Hotdiggity. He posted the ones of Poudre Lake.


    The only other hiking/climbing pictures are from other posts in other threads.
    Sadly, I just don't have enough hiking experiences in Alaska than I do of Colorado. All in due time.
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