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Thread: Hiking Solo on established trail systems in Alaska?

  1. #1
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    Default Hiking Solo on established trail systems in Alaska?

    Well, I am sure someone gives this post every year, but as I am new to Alaska I would value hearing experienced Alaskan outdoorsmens' opinion on hiking solo on Alaska trail systems.

    I'm in my mid-20s and an avid hiker whose hiked trails all across North America, Europe, and South America, including ~500 solo trails miles last summer in the Alps and Vermont. I came in Mid-May to Alaska for training to be a glacier day hiking guide in Wrangell-St. Elias but they ended up overhiring and let go of a newbie (ie Me).

    Now, I am trying to make the most of being in Alaska and am putting together a plan for beautiful hikes and places I want to go before I consider leaving the state. Of course, being new to Alaska I dont know too many people yet, and in case I dont meet anybody interested in hiking some of the destinations I desire I am contemplating doing them solo...wouldnt normally bother me, but I realize this is Alaska and more precautions must be considered...ie bears, river crossings, less frequency of other hikers etc. I have a SPOT and bear spray and read all about proper bear etiquette.

    Honestly I guess my biggest concern is brown bear, I havent spent much time in their territory except during an 8 person group hike to Donoho Peak in Wrangell-St Elias, but being with so many people allayed any concern I would have had.

    So would I be considered foolish to try and tackle any of the following trails alone?

    -Kesugi Ridge (Denali State Park)
    -Resurrection Pass Trail
    -Crow Pass Traverse
    -Kachemak Bay State park
    -Caines Head
    -Johnson Pass
    -Russian Lakes
    ......


    Of course...if anybody else out there is considering hitting these trails over the July August, or maybe September time frame, I would be open to a partner or two as well...I am not a loner...I just havent always waited in the past to find someone else to hike with, life is too short!...=)

    Thanks!!!

  2. #2

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    Resurrection Pass shouldn't be a problem. It's a good trail, at least the first 16 or so miles from Hope - I haven't done the full trail as we didn't have a car to station at both ends.

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    Member EagleRiverDee's Avatar
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    Well...I haven't done all those hikes but some of them. I wouldn't hesitate, for example, to do Caines Head (at a minus tide) alone or even Crow Pass. But any of these trails have a bear risk. The presence of another human isn't necessarily a deterrent although you'll make more noise and appear more threatening to a lone bear, but I see having at least one other person along a safety thing not just for bears but in case of injury or whatever. At the very minimum I would carry bear spray (or a gun, if available to you), a road flare (in addition to your other gear) and a personal locator beacon. The bear spray/gun are self-explanatory. The road flare is precautionary...if you end up in a stand-off with a bear you can pop the flare and the noise, smoke and fire is reputed to unnerve a bear and they will leave. You can also, of course, use it for signalling or even starting a fire in wet conditions. The personal locator beacon would be my replacement for having another person along- that way you can signal for rescue if needed.
    "If snowmachiners would adopt the habits of riding one at a time and not parking at the base of avalanche prone slopes, the number of fatalities would likely be whittled by at least a third, if not by half." ~ Jill Fredston, in the book Snowstruck, In The Grip Of Avalanches.

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    I've only done Kesugi Ridge and Resurrection Pass trails on your list, but I would'nt hesitate to hike in any of those places solo. Barring any unfortunate injuries (and you said you have a spot), your only real concern would be bears...if you take the necessary precautions with food and camp locations you probably have a better chance of getting hit by lightning than having a tangle with a growler. Keep your eyes, ears (and nose) open, use your head and you should be fine...

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    Quote Originally Posted by GlobeTrotter View Post
    So would I be considered foolish to try and tackle any of the following trails alone?

    -Kesugi Ridge (Denali State Park)
    -Resurrection Pass Trail
    -Crow Pass Traverse
    -Kachemak Bay State park
    -Caines Head
    -Johnson Pass
    -Russian Lakes
    I've hiked all these with the exception of Kachemak Bay State Park (I've gone up to the glacier but thats it) and Russian Lakes, and I've done Crow pass & Kesugi solo...the only ones on here I'd really be concerned hiking solo are Kachemak Bay just because of its remoteness and Russian Lakes with the high concentration of bears. Kesugi is a hike I'd try to do with a partner as well, no big river crossings but a couple boulder fields that could be hard to get yourself out of if you broke an ankle.

    Bear awareness & safety is key, as is a healthy knowledge of river crossings. I'd guess more people put themselves in bad spots because of improper river crossing than due to bears.

    Sounds like you have a great summer ahead of you, take your time, be safe & enjoy it. And if you're a fishermen, dont forget to bring a rod.

  6. #6
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    I think hiking alone is fine. Hiking alone and doing decent sized river crossings to me is a bigger concern than being alone around bears. Just be smart if you see bear sign by making some noise so as not to surprise one and be cautious with your food site/food around tent, etc. You should be pretty safe.


    Good luck!

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