Solo Hiking

I recently answered someone's inquiry about solo hiking in general, which follows.

I have solo hiked for over 20 years. I find it complements hiking with others as it gives me a completely different experience. When I hike, climb, or backpack with a friend or one of my kids, the objectives are different and most of the time I am adjusting my trip to make theirs as enjoyable as possible. I want others to find the pleasure in the outdoors that I get. Going solo, like Stevens to Snoqualmie pass or the Wonderland Trail, allows me to engage in "kinetic meditation" and be very introspective. As I have no one else to worry about, I can adjust my pace and mileage to however I am feeling. I can cover more ground and take breaks at my leisure. Years ago, I was at first a little nervous of night hiking by myself, but now it's one of the most enjoyable times of the day/night for me. Some of the most incredible views and vistas I have seen have been under moonlight. Another side benefit to solo hiking is your total immersion in your surroundings; since you are not talking to someone and making noise, your chances of experiencing wildlife up close is greatly enhanced. I have had close encounters with coyotes, elk, bear, mountain goats, porcupine, and various other animals solo hiking. I do usually confine my solo trips to established trails, however, and someone always knows where I am going. The result of solo experience is greater confidence in myself and my ability to be self sufficient in the outdoors. I carry a light pack but have everything I need to handle changing weather and trail conditions.
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