The Solitary Trail

I’m not an introvert. I don’t suffer from Anthropophobia. In fact, I’m quite the social person. I just don’t like people.

As a hiker, I’m hardly the perfect specimen. So I clearly don’t hike for any of the physical benefits.

As an off-roader, I’m not a technical rockcrawler nor a long distance overlander.

Why do I get up before the sun, throw on the completely wrong non-REI approved cotton clothing that couldn’t moisture wick if it tried, grab a rucksack, jump in a Jeep to head off to a trailhead and then wander off into the wilderness?

I go ‘out there’ so that I can recharge. So that I can be alone with my thoughts, my instincts, my problem solving skills. Coming back from the middle of nowhere gives the trail soloist something they can’t get anywhere else: you gain confidence with every obstacle your conquer and every puzzle you solve.

Even in California, through, where we have thousands and thousands of miles of trails it is sometimes impossible to find solitude. The trails are more and more crowded. The trash is everywhere. The trails are poorly maintained. The mark of man is made and instagram’d for all to see.

So … what does someone like me do to escape?

Well, I generally don’t hit the trails during the weekend. The popular trails will be crowded and the trailheads will have no parking. People work during the week. They can’t break away during their lunch hour and section hike the PCT or detour through Holcomb Valley on their commute home.

If I do go out during the weekend, I’ll head off to the less popular trails. The vast majority of hikers only hit the popular trails, and those popular trails make up less than 5% of the trails in all of California. Or, in the alternative, I’ll head off to trails that require an Adventure Pass or a reservation through recreation.gov for access.

Most years I’ve managed to hike the Six Pack of Peaks. Last year, I finally got a pass for Mount Whitney. I hiked all of them alone. No pictures, ot instagram, just the personal sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that comes from setting a goal and attaining it.

See you on the trails!