@jinxypop @Philreedshikes

Thanks Phil,

I skimmed through the responses here about your questions/concerns on going solo into the wilderness, just keep in mind that free advice is often worth what you paid for it, without at least considering the source. While most of the responses are rather commonsensical and/or easily googled, very little is, shall we say, on point.  

On the other hand, I have been a wilderness enthusiast, land and sea, for almost 35 years, most of that as a wilderness survivalist, and much of that SOLO (coincidentally, I also used to teach martial arts).

In fact, I just finished a month-long solo in on the local "Gabrieleno Trail". It's sheer serendipity that I made some notes during that hike for an upcoming soloing post. You may want to watch for it. As to your original post...  


Over the decades, I've gone from being the "only" girl in the backcountry, to one of the "few" girls in the backcountry, to one of the few solo girls in the backcountry, and over that time, one of the first questions I STILL get asked is, "Aren't you afraid?" (typically in reference to bears/animals). NO!  

The truth of the matter is, almost all cooks, creeps, and crooks stick to the frontcountry (those areas/camps nearest to town). That's because most of them don't have the gear or guts for the backcountry! In my experience, once you get there, you are already likely to encounter people, male and female, who are like-minded and well experienced. 

If you're "petite", as you say, martial arts only gets you so far! (perhaps unless you dedicate yourself to years and years of training). For petite girls, your "training" should focus on escape-and-run tactics.

As to a knife against a bear, some people should stop watching reruns of The Revenant (almost complete B.S.!) Otherwise, YOU are your biggest problem in the wilderness, not the animals.

As to a gun (specifically, a "side-arm"), statistically, you are more likely to either shoot yourself or be shot with your own gun. In ANY case, unless you are going into grizzly country, only morons take a gun into the wilderness! (and yes, I owned a gun for a number of years, so not anti-gun, just tend to be smarter than those who have them). Besides, unless you are capable of taking a human life, DON'T get one!! (but do get training if you do!!!)  


First, there are four types of hikers/hiking: at the far left of the evolutionary scale are day hikers, then there are distance hikers, wilderness hikers (like myself), and bushwhackers. Generally speaking, I hold little respect for day hikers' so-called "experience" because statistically, although they are engaged in the most rudimentary type of hiking, they are responsible for the VAST majority of Search And Rescue missions, not only among other types of hiking, but among ALL types of wilderness activities!  

I could EASILY go on, however suffice to say that even if you are good at day hiking or distance hiking, when it comes to switching to WILDERNESS hiking, you should consider yourself a rank beginner!!

Wilderness hiking takes a complete understanding, and implementation of, The Five Essential Steps: 1) Planning, 2) Preparation, 3) Proficiency, 4) Backups, and 5) Basic survival concepts and strategies (more on this in my planned post). This goes double for soloists!  

Second, psychologically speaking, people tend to think being good at one thing automatically means you're good at something else, particularly when those things have some basic similarly.

Take for example, Christopher "Alexander Supertramp" McCandless, who trekked into the Alaskan wilderness and died. His cause of death may have been starvation, but the REASON he died was STUPIDITY! He spent years walking through towns and countrysides, then had audacity to think he was ready for REAL wilderness.  

As it is, it never fails when I pass through the frontcountry to be inundated with day hikers asking for directions (meaning they don't even have a map!) My usual response, after a head shake and an eye roll, is usually "Go home, get a map!" (or words to that effect).

In the backcountry, it's a little different (other than an eye roll) because the consequences are more severe.  


I've said it before and I'll say it again, "Only two kinds of people go solo into the wilderness; those who REALLY know what they're doing, and those who really DON'T!"

Based on what you've said so far, you DON'T! Frankly, I'd say you are YEARS from being ready!! And by the way, being lucky is NOT the same as being ready!!!  

Getting the right gear (which everyone seems fixated on for some reason) isn't even a start, it just goes without saying. Getting good experience with good backpackers is a start, but being ready to solo - SAFELY AND COMPETENTLY - means being self-directed, self-determined, self-reliant, self-confident, self-sustaining....

Being solo, by definition, means being ALONE! So, if you break an ankle, could you handle it? How about if you lost a tooth filling? (which happened just several days into my last outing). Could you kill, and eat, a rattlesnake? (which also happened a few days into my last outing). How would you react to waking up just a few yards from a bear? (yes, ALSO happened on my last outing).  

Moreover, do you have the depth and diversity of knowledge and skills that would allow you to handle any likely condition (terrain and weather) or possibility? The experience? The common sense? (aka, The Four Cornerstones of Survival). Offhand, I'd say decidedly not!... so far.

It's not impossible, but it's not quick or easy. Frankly, without knowing more about you, you may NEVER actually be ready to solo in the wilderness. Then again, what do I know. Everyone wants to shine, but no one wants to polish, so whatever.