how do you keep yourself focused when hiking alone?

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mattcav

 
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how do you keep yourself focused when hiking alone?

by mattcav » Tue Oct 16, 2012 1:34 am

I really enjoy doing long hikes (10-20 miles). However, it seems that living out near Santa Barbara, I haven't encountered many people who share that passion...so I usually just go hiking by myself. I've noticed that when I'm on these epic hikes, I can start to get bored. It's not that I don't love being outdoors or hiking or whatever... but mentally I just sort of poop out after a few hours. I've been trying to do podcasts recently but after a few hours of that, I'm bored of that too.

So...for you fellow solo hikers out there... what do you do to keep yourself focused, interested, and stimulated to keep ascending on the trail?

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Re: how do you keep yourself focused when hiking alone?

by awilsondc » Tue Oct 16, 2012 1:43 am

I do a lot of solo hiking myself. For me I've found that keeping the hike challenging keeps me interested. If the terrain is steep this is easy, but if it's an easy flat trail I'll try to go as fast as I can while keeping my muscles as relaxed as possible (I do this on steep uphill too). I know those two things sound counter productive, but it really works for me. Another thing that really keeps me interested is photography! I'm always looking for a good picture so when I see a scenic view I'll stop to snap a couple photos, I'll even go out of my way / off trail for a good photo opportunity if I see one. I've listened to music in the past, but these days I just try to keep my attention on my body and my surroundings.
Last edited by awilsondc on Tue Oct 16, 2012 5:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Ben Beckerich

 
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Re: how do you keep yourself focused when hiking alone?

by Ben Beckerich » Tue Oct 16, 2012 2:01 am

The only time I hike is on approach to a climb, and the only time I solo hike is on approach to a solo climb... 'cause hiking IS boring. The reason you've never noticed it before is that you've previously had interesting and engaging partners to BS with- it's not the hiking you like, it's the fellowshipping you like.

So probably the only way you're going to find soloing interesting is to upgrade to solo climbing, or forgo the outdoorsey stuff and take up casual conversing in coffee shops or something.
where am i going... and why am i in this handbasket?

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Re: how do you keep yourself focused when hiking alone?

by phydeux » Tue Oct 16, 2012 2:04 am

I find its more enjoyable and I don't get as bored as when having to hike with (and keep track of) of companions that keep blabbering about the problems they have back in the city. When you're hiking alone you become more aware of your surroundings. I'm always looking at the plants, small animals (insects, lizards, flowers), birds, and geology on and beside the trail. And since you're not making a lot of noise, there's the possibilty of seeing some larger animals that would normally sneak off here in Southern California - bobcats, coyotes, even a ringtail(!). Never seen a cougar or bear, but have seen signs of their presence many times.

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Andrew Rankine

 
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Re: how do you keep yourself focused when hiking alone?

by Andrew Rankine » Tue Oct 16, 2012 2:06 am

I hike alone on occasion, but not usually longer hikes as you are talking about. I have gotten into endurance cycling, and that is another sport that you are alone for hours and hours without seeing a soul. It's just you and 200 km of road ahead. Sometimes it can be a little tough, but I have found a few methods.
1. I find the amount of thinking I do is inversely related to how hard I am working, go faster, retreat into the "pain cave," and do work.
2. When method number one is not an option, or you are taking a break, just spend some time thinking. There are many things around you and to think about out there. Perhaps a hike/bike ride offers some clarity.
3. Pick new hikes/bike rides that are more exciting and interesting.
4. Listen to music and point out the subtleties that you would not notice before. Switch between headphones on stereo, one in at a time. I listen to a lot of prog rock like this.

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Re: how do you keep yourself focused when hiking alone?

by lcarreau » Tue Oct 16, 2012 2:59 am

Andrew Rankine wrote:4. Listen to music and point out the subtleties that you would not notice before. Switch between headphones on stereo, one in at a time. I listen to a lot of prog rock like this.


Can't go wrong with prog rock ... I would always crank it up at the trailhead ..



Of course, can't go wrong with Metal either ... especially Czech Metal.

"Turkey Vultures always vomit when they get nervous."

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Re: how do you keep yourself focused when hiking alone?

by Andrew Rankine » Tue Oct 16, 2012 4:34 am

lcarreau wrote:
Can't go wrong with prog rock ... I would always crank it up at the trailhead ..

Of course, can't go wrong with Metal either ... especially Czech Metal.


Absolutely, prog rock is great. Metal is too, and Czech metal is awesome (I live in CZ during the summer). To mix the two a little bit, but maybe more hard rock than metal, my favorite band is Rush. I'm partial to the epics, it's tough to pick one but...2112 is a favorite.



Plus their stuff also makes one think a bit, 2112 in particular has a lot of meaning.

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Ze

 
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Re: how do you keep yourself focused when hiking alone?

by Ze » Tue Oct 16, 2012 5:59 am

go off trail --> increased focus. obviously you don't want to get too risky for your comfort, but there's plenty of medium inbetween

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Re: how do you keep yourself focused when hiking alone?

by dan2see » Tue Oct 16, 2012 6:29 am

mattcav wrote:I really enjoy doing long hikes (10-20 miles). However, it seems that living out near Santa Barbara, I haven't encountered many people who share that passion...so I usually just go hiking by myself. I've noticed that when I'm on these epic hikes, I can start to get bored. It's not that I don't love being outdoors or hiking or whatever... but mentally I just sort of poop out after a few hours. I've been trying to do podcasts recently but after a few hours of that, I'm bored of that too.

So...for you fellow solo hikers out there... what do you do to keep yourself focused, interested, and stimulated to keep ascending on the trail?


An experienced hiker will know his limits, and respect them.

So your limit is "a few hours"? Fine, that's great! So when you reach that "boring" point, turn around and head back!

If you carry a GPS, it will tell you how far you like to hike. Or simply note the elapsed time, and you're in control.

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Re: how do you keep yourself focused when hiking alone?

by NW » Tue Oct 16, 2012 1:02 pm

I haven't found I usually get to bored hiking alone. Usually I'm listening to music or pushing myself to go faster and that keeps me entertained. When I do get bored is I'm doing the same route over and over so I just change where I'm going or how I'm getting back. Plus honestly my mind wanders like crazy so it keeps me pretty entertained. But sometimes when we take the kids out they do get less excited if we're going to the same place again. So we started taking them geocaching. I had never heard of it until a few years ago. I gives all of us something other then the hike to focus on and provides a challenge. If you've never heard of it you should check it out.

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Re: how do you keep yourself focused when hiking alone?

by pvnisher » Tue Oct 16, 2012 1:40 pm

Put a medium pebble in each sock. Don't bring water. Put a little sand in your underwear.
Only bring one glove. No sunglasses. Jacket zipped up to the chin.

You'll be so focused on how uncomfortable you are that the time will fly right by! :)

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Re: how do you keep yourself focused when hiking alone?

by adventurer » Tue Oct 16, 2012 2:18 pm

I usually do 2 or 3 solo hikes every month, each of which is in the 12-18 mile range and most are in the Shenandoah Natl Park.

While I really never feel bored, I have noticed that I enjoy circuit hikes more than out and back hikes. I attribute this to the more constant change of scenary inherent in a circuit hike. Out and backs also tend to keep me too focused on the length and difficulty of the hike. So, if you're doing a lot of out and backs, you might try switching to more circuit hikes.

During my long solo hikes, I also tend to do a lot of day dreaming which helps to pass the time as well.
"When you travel, if you avoid the people, reject the food, ignore the customs, and fear the religion..... you might as well stay home"
James A. Michener

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Re: how do you keep yourself focused when hiking alone?

by Alpinist » Tue Oct 16, 2012 2:54 pm

Try hiking with your eyes closed for as long as possible. Time yourself and then extend your record with each new attempt. (No cheating!) That'll keep you awake! :shock:

Pass it on. It can help to reduce overcrowding in the backcountry...

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