Sunday, March 27, 2016

Not a Loner

Often people get the wrong idea about me. I've had people I don't know well call me a "loner". That really isn't true. I am the kind of person who would rather have a handful of kindred spirits than a bunch of superficial acquaintances.
I do a lot of my hiking solo because it is pretty hard to find people who want to do what I do in a town of less than 1500.  A good friend has moved, and one has a strange illness that I am hoping goes away soon. There are people who will take walks and a few pretty hardcore runners but the hikers are few and far between. The backpackers are almost non-existent. It's the one thing I would change about living here if I could.

Fortunately I don't mind my own company and I am comfortable in the woods. I set off on Saturday without a set plan and willing to push it a little. That's another quality that is hard to find. Not saying I am better than anyone, I just seem to want to endure obstacles (perhaps foolishly) more than some people. Of course I have my boundaries, for example I wouldn't hole up on Mount Everest for days in a tent just to get to the summit.

I decided to take the climber's trail to intersect the Chief Joseph trail, which turned out to be a good choice. There's a steep waterfall on the main trail that you can't navigate easily most of the time.

 I plodded up the steep climber's trail to find  untracked snow on the main trail. This always makes me both nervous and excited. Nobody's been up here? Why?
 All too soon it became clear that the postholing would begin. I had no idea that the north-facing slopes were going to hold that much snow. It took nerves of steel and stubbornness to keep plowing onward.
 Finally, without snowshoes and teetering on steep snowfields, I had to call it. I turned around to see if I could take the main trail all the way down, but encountered a show-stopper, a huge log that looked impossible to get over. Down the slippery climber's trail it was!
Cool icicles!
I probably hike 75% of my time solo. I don't feel bad about this: hiking alone lets me think of the plot line in my next novel. It lets me relax after a 50 hour work week. To me, it's better than staying home. I once had a friend who wanted to go on a cruise, but refused to go until he had a woman to go with. Two decades later, he still hasn't gone.

So no, internet friends, I am not a "loner". In fact, I never really feel lonely in the woods. If the stars align and someone is able to go, that is a bonus. Either way, I'll be out there.

11 comments:

  1. "I am the kind of person who would rather have a handful of kindred spirits than a bunch of superficial acquaintances." <<----This is how I am too. I had a lot of growing up to do in order too reach that point (Wait, so-and-so has how many friends? What's wrong with me?), but it was comforting to realize that it's okay to be that way.

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    1. I am really glad I grew up without the internet. It seems like Facebook makes it worse. I see people posting all the time about doing things with others, it would be easy to feel left out but then I look at the things they are doing and many of them I wouldn't be doing anyway...like partying...so then I feel better.

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    2. It's hard to believe isn't it, that in the town that you live in surrounded by all that gorgeous country to backpack there's not more people that do it. I live 2 to 3 hours west of most of the trail heads and I'm still up there somewhere most every other weekend from Memorial weekend till the end of September. If I lived in the valley ( a dream come true) I would be in the woods most of the time. But also for me I'll admit, I don't mind less people interested, I don't like to see a lot of others and I tend to not want to share all the peace and solitude. It's something that I have to work on and I do try, but that's just the way I feel.

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    3. I know, I find it really strange. I don't mind less people either, I could never live in a place like the Colorado Front Range. It would be nice to have more true backpacking souls though. Just a couple, that would be great.

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  2. Yeah, that's the reason I hike solo a lot too. Not many folks want to hike the trails/distances or get up as early as I want to. Or they don't want to wait while I take tons of photos. So I just find it easier to do my thing solo. And I don't know a lot of women my age who are willing to hike or ski some of the trails I like.

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    1. Well, maybe it isn't the size of the town. Maybe it's age? Oh that's depressing! Or good, if you look at it that we are representing for our age group.

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  3. O.K. I totally get where you are coming from Mary! Living in a city with a million plus people I still hike solo but that is my choice. I also enjoy going out with a few friends at times and feel like I have won the lottery when we are the only ones on the trail. When I go solo here, the distances are not grand nor are they obscure never visited trails but I do go very very early. I feel when I am alone is when I can truly escape and get mentally lost.

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    1. It's a completely different experience with friends along for sure. I tend to pick and choose based on what I need at that particular time. For example this weekend I did invite a couple people and it looks like they might be able to make it. I don't like giving up solo time but on the other hand I appreciate company too.

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    2. It's a completely different experience with friends along for sure. I tend to pick and choose based on what I need at that particular time. For example this weekend I did invite a couple people and it looks like they might be able to make it. I don't like giving up solo time but on the other hand I appreciate company too.

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  4. I would be your hiking partner if I had known you when we lived in Wallowa County!!! I give you credit for going at it alone ... I'm just not that comfortable on some of the less used trails. As you said, on the other hand, CO trails are WAY too crowded, so you have to count your blessings I guess!

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    1. This area seems pretty tame compare to Alaska so it's all relative!

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