The Benefits of Solo Adventuring
Bags are packed, gas tank is full. You're on your way to pick up your friends when suddenly it seems they've fallen off the map. Happen on the regular? You don't need them anyway. Time to pick up solo adventuring and forge your own path, Robinson Crusoe. You'll learn a lot about yourself in the process and look so hardcore in your Facebook photos that soon you'll replace all your flaky friends for a crew that carries out. Besides, solo adventuring is a blast. Here's why you should give it a try:
Go Anytime It's a hassle coordinating the days and times people can get out and journey into the wild blue yonder. Forget it! Being a solo adventurer means when you feel the desire to hit the trail, the only timetable you have to consult is your own. Get out from work, pack your bags and go — or take your sweet time getting ready and leave at midnight if that's more your style. No one will tell you to rush and you won't feel impatience at having to wait for the straggler (or a group that cancels altogether). When it's just you, you've only got yourself to worry about. Which leads to the next point:
Build Confidence It's just you out there. If your outing doesn't include car camping, you gotta learn how to make due with what you can carry in on your back, within your canoe, strap to a sled or hitch on horseback. You also have only yourself to rely on when fleshing out major decisions, such as choosing a site to set up camp, navigating your route and when to turn around if necessary. When you're in a group, people tend to look to others to help make those decisions. Do all this solo and your instincts will kick in, guiding you through the puzzles and making you a stronger outdoors person in the process.
Choose Your Own Adventure Getting bored? Turn around! Reached your destination but there's a side canyon that caught your interest? Go explore! When it's just you out there, you can decide the outcome by shortening or lengthening as the mood strikes. If you've always been the kind who wants to see what's around the next bend, you'll have no complaints from yourself when you decide to keep pressing on. But if those blisters are bugging, turn right around. No one will think you're a wimp (and no one has to know, either).
Appreciate Surroundings Isn't part of the reason we get out into nature because it offers quiet solitude? With just your thoughts to keep you company, you'll be enjoying the scenery of the outdoors in an entirely new perspective. When there are no extra set of footsteps to crunch the gravel trail in front of you and no raucous chatter around the campfire, you're free to meditate on the sounds and sights you'd otherwise miss as you silently move through the world. On the other hand, you're also free to let go of any inhibitions and let the canyon walls echo with shouts of how much you love life or break into a Broadway song along the river if it feels right.
Self-Awareness Think you know yourself? You’d be surprised how much introspection can happen on a solo trip. Don’t think it’s selfish, either. When you’ve been concentrating all week on pleasing others — your boss, your team, your coworkers, your family, your friends — you need time to figure out what’s important to you. As Rebecca Sowards-Emmerd, a frequent solo adventurer said, “Being by myself helps me figure out what's important to me…instead of getting caught up in 'group think.’” Even if there’s nothing “earth shattering” in her self-discovery, as she hikes through her adventures, she always finds herself simply thinking, “I really love this." And, sometimes, that’s all we need to know. Have you taken off on a trip all by yourself? What did you learn? What tips can you share with others just starting out?