In nature, nothing exists alone - Rachel Carson
More often than not, it is advised that when spending time in the wilderness to go with another person or in a group of people, for safety reasons. I do agree with is, especially if you are new to spending recreational time outdoors and/or do not have much experience exploring or traveling alone before. There are more risks involved, however, solo adventuring is something I have grown to love and I believe is an experience that can be just as safe, but also more rewarding in certain cases.
Whether it would be solo day hiking, cycling, paddling, or camping, each of these experiences done on your own will provide you with a deeper connection with yourself and nature.
Personally, my venture into doing things in the outdoors by myself started at a young age. Growing up, my father and I would do a lot of car camping. More often than not, as he got supper ready, I would hop on my bike and ride around the campground alone. Not only did this spark my curiosity more, I also began to develop more of my thoughts as well. Honestly, if I can remember, it was a lot of pretending and just being observant more than anything, just as kids are. When I look back now, I see how those moments helped shape me to who I am. As an artist, creativity for me sparks when I am outside, not distracted by screens and just having a free mind - if that makes sense. Maybe later I will go more into depth on that subject, but what I take from this is that time spent alone, can provide one with creative thoughts and ideas, and I think we all agree that is a positive thing.
Just like everything in life, we have to take things step by step, getting better and better at things we constantly do. So naturally, I began to seek more solo adventures. Now, to clear the air, I do like being in groups, and sharing adventures with others. It makes me happy to have somebody to talk to while enjoying a view, or using team work in overcoming obstacles and uncovering new discoveries. However, I do not always have the opportunity to go out with other people. Either work schedules don't align or other life events get in the way, so in those cases, I do more things alone and I am glad that I learned how to this because I love to be in solitude.
Nature is the best therapy out there. I do really think so as it helps me in my life, but it also is proven to have helped countless amounts of people all around the world. For example, there are many camps out there for at risk youth that take them out for extended trips into the wilderness. Many have gone to turn around their lives due to these kinds of trips. Obviously, this isn't miracle work. It takes time and each person will have their own way of finding the connection they need to make it through their struggles. Either way, if you choose to accept it, you will find healing and a multitude of both physical and mental health benefits with exposure to nature.
We can experience these benefits while alone or with others, so don't go thinking that you have to be a solo explorer to experience these helpful properties. However, there is one thing that I believe soloing does in terms of helping us personally. It provides us with more space. Now I mean it more in a metaphorical way rather than physical, because yes with basic math we can see that there will be more space around us as we explore. But back to the point. The less people we are with, the more we can focus on ourselves. Bringing it back to my younger years, cycling around alone and being in my own world, these moments are so open to let our minds be free, where we do not have to think about the stresses of life, and there are no distractions coming from others. We just have to let the solitude take over us in these moments, keeping ourselves in touch with our surroundings.
The other reason people like to solo is for the thrill of accomplishing an adventure on their own. Completing a difficult adventure comes with a sense of adrenaline that makes us feel alive. The more difficult the journey, often the more adrenaline we feel, and many times, finishing an adventure by ourselves will bring us that joy. I mentioned in the beginning that for safety reasons, it is often advised not to explore wilderness areas alone, and that becomes a contradicting point here. If the environmental ministries do have closures for potentially dangerous reasons, please do obey those, however in most places, solo adventuring is perfectly okay. I personally recommend working yourself up to certain challenging excursions. Going back to when I was a child and I rode my bike for the first time away from my campsite, there was a sense of fear being out there alone. But once I made it back and nothing bad happened, I became more comfortable doing it. It became second nature the more I did it. Same things go with all other solo adventures, starting out in familiar places and then expanding that comfort zone more and more. In a sense, this can be related to training. If we look at our world's top athletes, none of them just sit around, go to the Olympics, perform and win golds. They put in countless amounts of hours to perfecting their skill and getting better at it. As adventurers, we too need to build up our skills, and there are many excursions out there that require us the experience to go and do that.
At the time of writing this, I have had lots of experience in doing solo day hiking, and also biking too. What is intriguing me is expanding my adventures and bring the element of backpacking into the scenario. I have never gone on overnight solo backpacking trek before, and introducing that to biking and hiking is something I have been dreaming about lately. This summer that is coming up, I plan to start doing solo backpacking, starting with a familiar spot I like to go on day hikes. People who know me well, do know that I like to go outside my comfort zone. As much as I am excited to go on my first solo backpacking trip, there is a little fear of the unknown that is there. It is that same kind of fear I had as a child going out on my bike for the first time.
Seeking discomfort is a good thing. We grow as people when we break down our walls and try new things. As adventurers, going outside our comfort zones is something I believe is instilled in us to keep doing what we love at our own pace. I always will love going on day hikes, but if all I do is the same thing constantly, I do get sick of it. That is why I like to do a variety of different outdoor activities to keep me happy in what I am doing, and also seeking that next tier in my skill level in those activities in order to get better and to keep the thrill alive.
This only really scratches the surface into soloing. I will probably write another blog regarding soloing in the future as I gain more experience under my belt. I am sure there are new things for me to learn, and I would love nothing more but to share them with you. If you are interested in going solo in the outdoors, please ensure you are doing the proper research and preparations before you head out. Safety always comes first, and having things like a proper first aid kit, some kind of training in wilderness survival and also letting people know where you are going is always a smart thing to do. I personally use a Spot GPS device (not sponsored) that lets me tell loved ones where I am and if I need help. Using these tools and skills helps me find solitude in my life, and it is something I am so dearly grateful for. The world is a wonderful place to explore, and we should go out and see as much and experience as much as we can from it.