Author Topic: Do you feel safe hiking alone?  (Read 30938 times)

mak1277

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 571
Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #100 on: March 31, 2015, 07:57:36 AM »
I knew a guy who disappeared when hiking alone. Nobody could find him. When he was eventually found he was dead - he fell and the fall killed him. I would never go hiking by myself.

If the fall killed him, then hiking with a partner wouldn't have saved him anyway, unless they were holding hands.  If I'm dead I don't really care how long it takes someone to find me.

waltworks

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2477
Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #101 on: March 31, 2015, 08:07:45 AM »
Yes, because being scared of human predators in the woods is, like day trading stocks, probably a waste of your time and attention. So taking a rational look at the situation and learning more about the world is more useful than, say, buying a handgun, or not going hiking, or whatever.

There is nothing sexist about it. Regardless of gender, you just aren't at sufficient risk from other humans when hiking that it should be a consideration.

-W

Women posted with answers about how they hike alone and what they do to feel safe. Men posted to explain that being worried about human predators is silly but ZOMG you could break your leg and DIE.
*sigh*

Gin1984

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4398
Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #102 on: March 31, 2015, 08:21:21 AM »
Yes, because being scared of human predators in the woods is, like day trading stocks, probably a waste of your time and attention. So taking a rational look at the situation and learning more about the world is more useful than, say, buying a handgun, or not going hiking, or whatever.

There is nothing sexist about it. Regardless of gender, you just aren't at sufficient risk from other humans when hiking that it should be a consideration.

-W

Women posted with answers about how they hike alone and what they do to feel safe. Men posted to explain that being worried about human predators is silly but ZOMG you could break your leg and DIE.
*sigh*
So I should ignore the warnings from the cops, about women bring raped while hiking?  Yea, right.  You guys are proving her right and that is ridiculous. 

waltworks

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2477
Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #103 on: March 31, 2015, 09:01:25 AM »
"Some cop said" is not much of an argument. I've spent the better part of 40 years in the backcountry, quite a bit of that time as a professional, and never encountered so much as a mugging, so there's your counter-anecdote.

Or, you could look at violent crime stats:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crime_in_the_United_States#/media/File:Violent_crime_rates_by_gender_1973-2003.jpg

Or rape numbers:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_statistics#/media/File:Rapes_per_1000_people_1973-2003.jpg

From the article: "Contrary to widespread belief, rape outdoors is rare. Over two thirds of all rapes occur in someone's home. 31% occur in the perpetrators' homes, 27% in the victims' homes and 10% in homes shared by the victim and perpetrator. 7% occur at parties, 7% in vehicles, 4% outdoors and 2% in bars." ( Abbey, A., BeShears, R., Clinton-Sherrod, A. M., & McAuslan, P. (2004). Psychology of Women Quarterly, 28, 323–332."Similarities and differences in women's sexual assault experiences based on tactics used by the perpetrator". Accessed 9 July 2008.)

I would guess that basically all the rapes outdoors are happening in urban areas, rather than on hiking trails, but I don't have numbers on that.

-W

Gin1984

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4398
Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #104 on: March 31, 2015, 09:12:33 AM »
"Some cop said" is not much of an argument. I've spent the better part of 40 years in the backcountry, quite a bit of that time as a professional, and never encountered so much as a mugging, so there's your counter-anecdote.

Or, you could look at violent crime stats:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crime_in_the_United_States#/media/File:Violent_crime_rates_by_gender_1973-2003.jpg

Or rape numbers:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_statistics#/media/File:Rapes_per_1000_people_1973-2003.jpg

From the article: "Contrary to widespread belief, rape outdoors is rare. Over two thirds of all rapes occur in someone's home. 31% occur in the perpetrators' homes, 27% in the victims' homes and 10% in homes shared by the victim and perpetrator. 7% occur at parties, 7% in vehicles, 4% outdoors and 2% in bars." ( Abbey, A., BeShears, R., Clinton-Sherrod, A. M., & McAuslan, P. (2004). Psychology of Women Quarterly, 28, 323–332."Similarities and differences in women's sexual assault experiences based on tactics used by the perpetrator". Accessed 9 July 2008.)

I would guess that basically all the rapes outdoors are happening in urban areas, rather than on hiking trails, but I don't have numbers on that.

-W
I am not saying that the majority of rape are stranger rapes, I am quite away that most are from known individuals.  However, of those who are stranger rapes, they aim for women in isolated areas.  This man:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altemio_Sanchez, raped in multiple areas one of which is the path that goes through the hiking area I was talking about.  Yet the timing I was speaking of was in 2009.  The cops had 25 reported rapes in that area so issued a warning (which btw, not a cop, Buffalo PD, Amherst PD and the university police department all issued separate warnings).  I am sure everyone is aware that not all crimes, like rape, are reported so I can assume more than that occurred prior to the warning. 
This is one of the "avoid getting raped: advise sites.
https://rainn.org/get-information/sexual-assault-prevention/avoiding-dangerous-situations
The second one is "Try to avoid isolated areas. It is more difficult to get help if no one is around.", not because there are more rapists in those areas but because it is harder to get away if they are there. 

MountainFlower

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 258
  • Location: Colorado Mountains
Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #105 on: March 31, 2015, 09:24:22 AM »
I hike alone in Boulder and at my house in the mountains. 

I carry pepper spray, usually the big kind.  It will work on anything, including moose, which I have to worry about on my mountain hikes. 

Here's what happened to me one day and why I prefer pepper spray to a gun.  I was hiking with my two small kids, 6 and 4.  We live near a campground and we were hiking around there.  A woman let her two 100 pound dogs off leash because she thought she was alone given that the parking lot was empty.  Well those two beasts made an insane B-line for me and my children.  I was prepared to spray them, but having owned an akita and recognizing big dog posturing, I first in my lowest alpha bitch voice told them to stay.  Thankfully, they did.  However, if they had not, a gun would have been almost useless against two dogs attacking small children.      Pepper spray on the other hand, would have shut them down pretty quick without potentially shooting a child by accident.   


waltworks

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2477
Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #106 on: March 31, 2015, 09:52:43 AM »
Look, it's certainly possible to get attacked anywhere. My point is that a hiking trail is probably the *least* likely place. If you don't carry a weapon around every time you go out, you should probably not worry about it when you go hiking. And you certainly shouldn't be worried about sensational crimes committed by serial killers, because there is a whole laundry list of stuff that is orders of magnitude more dangerous that you don't give a rat's ass about. Life is not a horror movie or the tabloid news, folks. You are in less danger from violence than any humans in recorded history, at least if you live in the developed world.

I mean, if you want to just find scary anecdotes, how about the Germanwings crash/mass murder? Your chances of dying in a plane crash are higher than getting killed by a serial killer, bike path or no, but you probably still fly, right? Because, statistically, it's really safe, right? This is no different.

Seriously, you're really safe. Read up about it, figure out what actual dangers are, and then go have fun!

http://reason.com/archives/2012/01/11/the-decline-of-violence

-W

BlueMR2

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1807
Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #107 on: March 31, 2015, 09:57:24 AM »
I like this gun idea.  There are plenty of small, light (1 lb or so), easily concealed/carried weapons that will scare away most riff raff when un-concealed.  It's always best if you can get rid of the threat without actually having to use violence.

On the human side, I feel relatively safe hiking alone, but have had a bad encounter before (threatened but they stopped just short of actually hitting me).  I now carry a small handgun where legal for hiking in locations where wild animals are unlikely (or only very small ones are around).

In the wild areas where the threat of animal attack exists (which I consider a higher overall risk than a human attack), I carry a magnum caliber handgun...  You may only get 1 shot off in an animal attack.  It needs to count.

sandandsun

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 187
Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #108 on: March 31, 2015, 10:52:03 AM »
Look, it's certainly possible to get attacked anywhere. My point is that a hiking trail is probably the *least* likely place. If you don't carry a weapon around every time you go out, you should probably not worry about it when you go hiking. And you certainly shouldn't be worried about sensational crimes committed by serial killers, because there is a whole laundry list of stuff that is orders of magnitude more dangerous that you don't give a rat's ass about. Life is not a horror movie or the tabloid news, folks. You are in less danger from violence than any humans in recorded history, at least if you live in the developed world.

I mean, if you want to just find scary anecdotes, how about the Germanwings crash/mass murder? Your chances of dying in a plane crash are higher than getting killed by a serial killer, bike path or no, but you probably still fly, right? Because, statistically, it's really safe, right? This is no different.

Seriously, you're really safe. Read up about it, figure out what actual dangers are, and then go have fun!

http://reason.com/archives/2012/01/11/the-decline-of-violence

-W
I'm going to agree here, to an extent, even though I posted early on about the .38.
I rarely carry a gun when I'm in a designated hiking area... and if I do, it's because of the threat of bear.  But in my general area, running off road means logging trails, backwoods, and lots a drunk rednecks on 4-wheelers.  So yes, there can definitely be a threat of the human (and I use that term loosely) variety in these areas.  I think it all depends on where you are and what reasonable level of threat you can expect... (cue the Deliverance banjos)

Roots&Wings

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 864
Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #109 on: March 31, 2015, 11:24:33 AM »
Dog + cell phone, bear bells (aka my dangling keys) if I'm in bear area.

NICE!

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 685
  • Location: Africa
Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #110 on: March 31, 2015, 12:33:19 PM »
So I should ignore the warnings from the cops, about women bring raped while hiking?  Yea, right.  You guys are proving her right and that is ridiculous.

Hey, don't fall into the same trap she did. There are like 2-3 people saying that type of stuff. The rest of the thread is pretty solid, in my opinion.

I'd also note that they aren't wrong about the stats regarding violence. We really are safe and have been getting safer for awhile.

Where they're off the mark is in not considering how you feel and the fact that it is important how you feel. Like I said, I also feel uncomfortable alone in the wild. I also feel slightly uncomfortable if a plane hits a bad bit of turbulence or I see storm clouds out the window. Obviously I can't do any prep on the plane stuff, but I will prep on the outdoors stuff by having the "don't fuck with me" face, ample supplies, people with knowledge of where I am/how long I'll be gone, and some type of item to be used in self-defense (walking stick, multipurpose knife, etc).
« Last Edit: March 31, 2015, 12:40:33 PM by NICE! »

mak1277

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 571
Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #111 on: March 31, 2015, 12:45:34 PM »
So I should ignore the warnings from the cops, about women bring raped while hiking?  Yea, right.  You guys are proving her right and that is ridiculous.

Hey, don't fall into the same trap she did. There are like 2-3 people saying that type of stuff. The rest of the thread is pretty solid, in my opinion.

I'd also note that they aren't wrong about the stats regarding violence. We really are safe and have been getting safer for awhile.

Where they're off the mark is in not considering how you feel and the fact that it is important how you feel. Like I said, I also feel uncomfortable alone in the wild. I also feel slightly uncomfortable if a plane hits a bad bit of turbulence or I see storm clouds out the window. Obviously I can't do any prep on the plane stuff, but I will prep on the outdoors stuff by having the "don't fuck with me" face, ample supplies, people with knowledge of where I am/how long I'll be gone, and some type of item to be used in self-defense (walking stick, multipurpose knife, etc).

I also think the issue here is one of general vs. specific.  If the police were aware of a specific area in which women were getting raped, of COURSE you shouldn't go hiking there.  But just because women are getting raped in one specific area doesn't mean it's more likely to happen in the backcountry at large.

waltworks

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2477
Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #112 on: March 31, 2015, 12:54:23 PM »
Maybe this is where we're not communicating well. My intent is to give everyone the confidence that they don't need to take ninja classes to go for a walk in the woods, because their fear, while real, isn't really justified.

To take the airplane analogy further, we could all recommend that someone who is afraid of flying wear a parachute on the plane, or only fly on certain airlines with perfect safety records (Rainman, anyone?) or something, but really, the *better* solution is to think through their fear, convince themselves it's not rational, and then go about their lives.

Now, if that's not possible and carrying a pocket knife/bear spray/gun/claymore makes you feel better, that's fine. But the bottom line is that hiking is dangerous (to the extent that it is at all) almost exclusively because of weather and other natural (rockfall, lightning, slip/fall, getting lost, etc) hazards. The danger from other humans is as low as it could possibly be anywhere in your entire life, including in your own home most likely. Think about it, fill up your water bottle, and go out and enjoy the world.

-W

Where they're off the mark is in not considering how you feel and the fact that it is important how you feel. Like I said, I also feel uncomfortable alone in the wild. I also feel slightly uncomfortable if a plane hits a bad bit of turbulence or I see storm clouds out the window. Obviously I can't do any prep on the plane stuff, but I will prep on the outdoors stuff by having the "don't fuck with me" face, ample supplies, people with knowledge of where I am/how long I'll be gone, and some type of item to be used in self-defense (walking stick, multipurpose knife, etc).

gimp

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2355
Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #113 on: March 31, 2015, 01:10:24 PM »
Women posted with answers about how they hike alone and what they do to feel safe. Men posted to explain that being worried about human predators is silly but ZOMG you could break your leg and DIE.
*sigh*

So now my opinion on what I worry about, which had absolutely no mention of anything else discussed in this thread, isn't worth listening to because of what genitals I have?

See, two can play at that bullshit gender card game.

I make no comment about anything else people mentioned, but am just sharing my answer to the original question. Yes, I feel safe. However, my biggest worry is basically that I'm going to be an overconfident idiot and die alone at ten thousand feet in the snow. I do my best to prepare for the basics (water, food, compass, gps, knife, mylar blanket, matches, lighter, basic knowledge of how to use these.) But shit happens.

I am not very worried about black bears. Brown bears are much more of a possible issue, but so far my hikes were mostly in areas without any. Moose are cunts. Elk can be a problem too. And bison. Especially during rutting season. Not worried about any birds, snakes, spiders, scorpions, etc, though I do make sure to listen for rattling.

These are legitimately useful responses, so I have no respect for you shitting on them.

NoraLenderbee

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1037
Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #114 on: March 31, 2015, 03:03:52 PM »
Women posted with answers about how they hike alone and what they do to feel safe. Men posted to explain that being worried about human predators is silly but ZOMG you could break your leg and DIE.
*sigh*

That's quite an unfair characterization of the vast majority of reasonable posts in this thread. Did you just look for the bad ones and ignore the others?

The first responses I saw from men were heavy on dismissing the OP's concern and mansplaining. I did not mean your posts, which I thought were very insightful.  I should have said "Some men" or "the first few men."

These are legitimately useful responses, so I have no respect for you shitting on them.

They are fine responses to a different question. The OP was specifically asking about dealing with her feelings of being unsafe from humans. This is a real and legitimate fear for women. Responses warning about black bears and crevasses are beside the point. Responses pooh-poohing her fears, or saying "I'm a guy and I don't worry about other guys,"  are condescending and dismissive--and out of touch with what living as a woman is like. I go out riding by myself and do other stuff, I'm not imprisoned by fears; however, I never dismiss the possibility that a human threat could appear, and I maintain a certain level of awareness. 

deborah

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5760
  • Location: At Home
Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #115 on: March 31, 2015, 03:10:32 PM »
I guess that when I talk about remote areas they are a different level of remoteness that what you are talking about. Yesterday SO had a picture of the USA with different states labeled with one word - Nevada was "empty". Now Nevada has more people per square kilometer than New South Wales (the second most populated state in Australia) 7.9 vs 7.1 - the Northern Territory has 0.2 people per square kilometer. Most of my hiking has been in remote parts of New South Wales.

This probably makes hiking itself somewhat safer, while scouting out the other occupants of campsites is something I automatically on arrival (saying hi, but getting a feeling of the types staying there), and is possibly more necessary, as there would be fewer people at the campsites.

NICE!

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 685
  • Location: Africa
Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #116 on: March 31, 2015, 03:27:54 PM »
I guess that when I talk about remote areas they are a different level of remoteness that what you are talking about. Yesterday SO had a picture of the USA with different states labeled with one word - Nevada was "empty". Now Nevada has more people per square kilometer than New South Wales (the second most populated state in Australia) 7.9 vs 7.1 - the Northern Territory has 0.2 people per square kilometer. Most of my hiking has been in remote parts of New South Wales.

This probably makes hiking itself somewhat safer, while scouting out the other occupants of campsites is something I automatically on arrival (saying hi, but getting a feeling of the types staying there), and is possibly more necessary, as there would be fewer people at the campsites.

Alaska's pretty damn empty. Also, with Nevada you're basically talking about Las Vegas, Reno, and nearly nothing else. There are a lot of people in those small bubbles and almost no one anywhere else.

But yes, Australia is vast and the population is concentrated in a relatively small area, similar to Canada.

Lyssa

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 477
  • Location: Germany
Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #117 on: March 31, 2015, 11:43:16 PM »

To take the airplane analogy further, we could all recommend that someone who is afraid of flying wear a parachute on the plane, or only fly on certain airlines with perfect safety records (Rainman, anyone?) or something, but really, the *better* solution is to think through their fear, convince themselves it's not rational, and then go about their lives.


Would you work through your fear of flying if you - not exactly frequently, but not terribly rarely either - saw pilots roaming through the airports while incoherently mumbling "mh... yes.., that might be, might be a good idea... mh... kill them all....yes, just might this time..."? Oh, and when you tried reporting them you've been told that "we can do nothing about it because nothing has happened yet". I bet you would take the car, statistics be damned.

Having unpleasant encounters with jerks and creeps is absolutely nothing unsual or sensational. And yes, most women do think about it when simply walking through the city as well. Not constantly, but regularly enough to be part of our daily life. So it's just natural that we consider it when planning a hiking trip as well.

Bob W

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2958
  • Age: 58
  • Location: Missouri
  • Live on minimum wage, earn on maximum
Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #118 on: April 01, 2015, 12:10:23 PM »
The more I think about this the more unsafe I feel.   I have camped and hiked for years and occasionally come across super weirdo's.     We had one spot we loved but quit going because it was overrun by meth heads.   

So I'm rethinking my stance on this.   I rarely hike alone, but even as a 230 pound male I think I would be uncomfortable coming across a pair of seedy characters on the trail or have them following me.    Even with my wife and 7 year old son I would feel uncomfortable as I reflect upon this.   

If it was a wilderness area with few people I think my spider senses would be up.    So yeah,   I need to find that clip for my small pocket hand gun and start carrying it.   Around here seedy characters seem to gravitate to low water bridges down by the river.  We've had friends whose camps were robbed and even on one float trip we had a truck stolen.   

As the gun folks say  "when seconds matter,  the police are only minutes away."    That couldn't be anymore truer than on a far away trail.   
Better living through math.

caliq

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 681
Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #119 on: April 01, 2015, 04:14:53 PM »

To take the airplane analogy further, we could all recommend that someone who is afraid of flying wear a parachute on the plane, or only fly on certain airlines with perfect safety records (Rainman, anyone?) or something, but really, the *better* solution is to think through their fear, convince themselves it's not rational, and then go about their lives.


Would you work through your fear of flying if you - not exactly frequently, but not terribly rarely either - saw pilots roaming through the airports while incoherently mumbling "mh... yes.., that might be, might be a good idea... mh... kill them all....yes, just might this time..."? Oh, and when you tried reporting them you've been told that "we can do nothing about it because nothing has happened yet". I bet you would take the car, statistics be damned.

Having unpleasant encounters with jerks and creeps is absolutely nothing unusual or sensational. And yes, most women do think about it when simply walking through the city as well. Not constantly, but regularly enough to be part of our daily life. So it's just natural that we consider it when planning a hiking trip as well.

Ooh you worded this so well!  I've been following the discussion and haven't posted because I don't really know how to articulate my thoughts on this subject.

I am normally all about the data and statistics, but there's that gut instinct surrounding this issue that makes it a lot harder to be totally 'rational.'  The saddest part is, it's not actually an instinct -- it's a mentality drilled into women practically from birth, by a society that tells them their actions and choices are to blame, should they ever become a victim of a terrible crime.

Exhale

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 898
Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #120 on: April 01, 2015, 08:34:53 PM »
What I realized was how I'd placed solo hiking into some way different category (vs. all of my other solo activities). Reminds me of people who are afraid of plane crashes, but jump into a car without a second thought even though car crashes are more likely.
The only suggestion I have is that you take some time by yourself to hike in the safest place you can imagine (using many of the above safety suggestions) and contemplate why you've put solo hikes in this place. What do they mean to you? That solo meditation in the woods helped me quite a bit and in more ways than just feeling better while hiking. I changed parts of my life for the better because my fear of solo hikes was not just about solo hiking. It reflected other fears.

What a fantastic suggestion. I'd already decided to start this process with beach hikes at some popular areas and then build up from there. I'll add this mindfulness exercise to that activity. The meditation idea is excellent because hiking solo is about me 1) preparing myself well and then 2) having a mindset that allows me to enjoy doing something I love. Thank you for this idea.

Exhale

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 898
Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #121 on: April 01, 2015, 08:35:57 PM »
You could also use an eperb  (emergency response beacon) used for boating... pull the pin and it sends a satellite signal with your location to the emergency services. Cheaper than the sat phone option...
Great idea - will look into this too. Thanks!

rocketpj

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 619
Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #122 on: April 01, 2015, 10:43:31 PM »
Thanks to the OP for opening my eyes on this concept.  I hike a lot, often alone, and just haven't ever had reason to wonder if women were comfortable doing the same.  2 seconds of consideration on the topic raises the obvious safety and hazards that many women face in our society, but I had never really connected it to hiking before.

Do whatever you feel makes you comfortable hiking.  We are all blessed with amazing outdoor spaces here in North America (and elsewhere).  Make the most of it, it's good to be alive.  But it isn't good to be afraid while accessing it, and I sincerely hope you can figure out what works for you to help mitigate or address those fears.

sky_northern

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 99
Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #123 on: April 02, 2015, 11:17:57 AM »
I've hiked and car camped by myself tons, but mostly Western Canada and Alaska (But also in other countries when I've traveled - Australia, Mexico, China, etc). I try to be vigilant to dangers but it's the same as any solo travel, I'm not going to let fear kept me from not doing it. I've had some amazing experiences and been to amazing places. I enjoy traveling by myself, I'll take the risk that goes with it.

JCfire

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 145
Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #124 on: April 02, 2015, 01:57:08 PM »
The first responses I saw from men were heavy on dismissing the OP's concern and mansplaining. I did not mean your posts, which I thought were very insightful.  I should have said "Some men" or "the first few men."

What is it that motivates you to use a word like "mansplaining"?  Do you like using other similar words to complain about your stereotypes of any other genders, races, or religions?  Or do you just enjoy speaking that way when you're talking about men?

Exhale

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 898
Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #125 on: April 02, 2015, 06:47:12 PM »
Do whatever you feel makes you comfortable hiking.  We are all blessed with amazing outdoor spaces here in North America (and elsewhere).  Make the most of it, it's good to be alive.  But it isn't good to be afraid while accessing it, and I sincerely hope you can figure out what works for you to help mitigate or address those fears.
Thanks rocketpj! With the help of the folks who've posted on this thread, I'm now on my way. :-)

Exhale

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 898
Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #126 on: April 02, 2015, 07:20:07 PM »
Do whatever you feel makes you comfortable hiking.  We are all blessed with amazing outdoor spaces here in North America (and elsewhere).  Make the most of it, it's good to be alive.  But it isn't good to be afraid while accessing it, and I sincerely hope you can figure out what works for you to help mitigate or address those fears.
Thanks rocketpj! With the help of the folks who've posted on this thread, I'm now on my way. :-)
And you know what Exhale? If you do venture out alone and you just can't quite find a level safety and security you are comfortable with,  then just find other like minded people to join you.  Hiking alone, while probably pretty safe from human predators, doesn't mean you'll end of feeling safe no matter what statistic say. It's an emotional feeling that varies from person to person - not some kind of failing because you aren't tough enough or whatever. It really is no big deal to feel that way at all. Find whatever comfort level works for you and work within that frame, not what anyone here or elsewhere tells you how you i]should[/i] feel (heck I once thought I was being chased by a werewolf in broad daylight on a trail - the mind just goes there sometimes :-)!). Experiment on trails you are familiar with and just see how it goes. If it doesn't work out doing it solo, check out meet ups and places like the Sierra club for companions.

Thanks Spartana!  In fact, an unexpected benefit of this thread has been finding two local MMM folks with whom to go hiking.

HappyMargo

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 121
  • Location: Colorado
Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #127 on: April 02, 2015, 07:45:12 PM »
Credit goes to Spartana for posting this link in another older thread.  It's a photo wall of women solo cycling around the world.  Wow:  Women On Wheels.   

http://www.skalatitude.com/p/wow-women-on-wheels.html

I've done quite a bit of solo hiking, car camping &  trail running (have to be very selective on this last one.  Running thru the woods can make you look like prey to mountain lions.)   DH hates camping; thinks it's gross.  So I either have to  (a) drum up GFs who are active & enjoy camping or (b) go solo. 

Yes, I do feel fear sometimes & remain alert (need to stop watching that dang show Criminal Minds!) but for the most part just feel so happy that I have good health & can go outside to enjoy our gorgeous, amazing country side!!

And now that I've checked out WOW... I want to start planning my own bike trips once I FIRE too!
Enjoying the journey (& bike ride!) to FIRE.

HappyMargo

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 121
  • Location: Colorado
Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #128 on: April 02, 2015, 07:51:46 PM »

Thanks Spartana!  In fact, an unexpected benefit of this thread has been finding two local MMM folks with whom to go hiking.

That's awesome!  Now I am so jealous!!
Hope it works out well & Happy Trails to you.
Enjoying the journey (& bike ride!) to FIRE.

mtnrider

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 256
  • Location: Frozen tundra in the Northeast
Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #129 on: April 02, 2015, 09:44:07 PM »
TLDR: I feel like guns, and even pepper spray, are overrated.

Feel safe hiking alone - generally yes.  My biggest worry is that I'll slip, hit my head, and drown in a couple feet of water while crossing a stream.

I've had more than 50 run-ins with black bears (including around twenty in one year) while hiking.  In almost all cases, the bear runs away.  Only a couple times did the bear stand its ground, and that was when it had cubs.  (Bears around dumpers are a different story!)  Bears charge very quickly - at about 30mph - 44 feet per second - and you need to hit a /very/ small target or you just annoy the bear.  You generally only have a few seconds from when you see a bear to when it is on you, if it's going to attack (so I'm told, I haven't experienced a charge).  A handgun would be practically useless unless you're a trained crack shot, and have the gun in hand, and you're lucky. 

Even pepper spray is no panacea.  You have to wait until the bear is practically on top of you.  Yeah, it shoots 30 feet.  But it's not that accurate at that range, and it's spread out more, etc...  and again, the bear will be on you in seconds.  Actually less than one second.

I practiced with pepper spray.  First with a big bottle that I had carried for 6 months in the side pocket of my backpack.  It didn't shoot at all!  (I didn't investigate why - I bought a new one.)  In retrospect, the bear would have had me by the time I got the thing out and shot it anyway.  I would sleep with pepper spray with me, but my understanding is that bears can smell it, and they might think it smells like food.

About humans - even as a big guy, I've met a few that made me think.  But... they were guys with guns.  Hunters, who seemed like (no evidence) they might have had a few while hanging out in the tree stands.  I'm not sure how the gun would fare with them.  (Note that most hunters I've bumped into have given me a smile and wave, this minority seemed like the type that shoot at those robot deer.)

I often hike with a friend on long hikes nowadays, but that's more about enjoying their company.  But I recognize there's safety in numbers.
« Last Edit: April 02, 2015, 09:51:02 PM by mtnrider »

Metta

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 584
Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #130 on: April 02, 2015, 09:53:46 PM »
What I realized was how I'd placed solo hiking into some way different category (vs. all of my other solo activities). Reminds me of people who are afraid of plane crashes, but jump into a car without a second thought even though car crashes are more likely.
The only suggestion I have is that you take some time by yourself to hike in the safest place you can imagine (using many of the above safety suggestions) and contemplate why you've put solo hikes in this place. What do they mean to you? That solo meditation in the woods helped me quite a bit and in more ways than just feeling better while hiking. I changed parts of my life for the better because my fear of solo hikes was not just about solo hiking. It reflected other fears.

What a fantastic suggestion. I'd already decided to start this process with beach hikes at some popular areas and then build up from there. I'll add this mindfulness exercise to that activity. The meditation idea is excellent because hiking solo is about me 1) preparing myself well and then 2) having a mindset that allows me to enjoy doing something I love. Thank you for this idea.

Glad you found it helpful!

mtnrider

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 256
  • Location: Frozen tundra in the Northeast
Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #131 on: April 02, 2015, 10:02:47 PM »
I think the main enemy is in our head.

I agree.  And I agree that it's hard to work through it.

mtnrider

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 256
  • Location: Frozen tundra in the Northeast
Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #132 on: April 02, 2015, 10:35:13 PM »
But as a single female hiking alone in the wilds, running into a bunch of semi-drunk armed male hunters IS very scary for very different reasons.  Generally best to be avoided if possible. Bears, especially black bear, aren't too much of an issue but the brown bears in Alaska (where nearly everyone pretty much carries a large caliber handgun when hiking) aren't quite as timid. But really not a problem either.

Oh, I totally agree that avoiding the problem is best.  Those guys are wildcards.  I wouldn't want to be a woman in that situation.

Brown bears I don't have any experience with.  My understanding is that pepper spray is better at stopping them, if only because it's easier to hit them.  (I'd still want to be carrying a firearm in Alaska.)

To riff on what you said about avoidance (from http://www.outsideonline.com/1899301/shoot-or-spray-best-way-stop-charging-bear):
<quote>
“Hitting a target the size of a baseball, especially when the target’s coming at you at 30 miles an hour and swaying side to side, isn’t easy,” says Stephen Herrero, who is among those who have actually accomplished such a feat. “All of our research continues to show that the basics of safety aren’t about how you well you deploy a firearm or how effectively you get to your bear spray, but how you avoid getting in those situations in the first place.”
</quote>

When I hike, especially alone, I cook in a different place than where I sleep.  I sleep away from problem bear areas, etc...

East River Guide

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 42
  • Location: Margaritaville
Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #133 on: April 03, 2015, 01:23:08 AM »
As the gun folks say  "when seconds matter,  the police are only minutes away."    That couldn't be anymore truer than on a far away trail.

This.   Makes sense to be prepared when you can't rely on help from anyone else.

iwasjustwondering

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 435
Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #134 on: April 03, 2015, 06:16:25 AM »
"Some cop said" is not much of an argument. I've spent the better part of 40 years in the backcountry, quite a bit of that time as a professional, and never encountered so much as a mugging, so there's your counter-anecdote.

Or, you could look at violent crime stats:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crime_in_the_United_States#/media/File:Violent_crime_rates_by_gender_1973-2003.jpg

Or rape numbers:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_statistics#/media/File:Rapes_per_1000_people_1973-2003.jpg

From the article: "Contrary to widespread belief, rape outdoors is rare. Over two thirds of all rapes occur in someone's home. 31% occur in the perpetrators' homes, 27% in the victims' homes and 10% in homes shared by the victim and perpetrator. 7% occur at parties, 7% in vehicles, 4% outdoors and 2% in bars." ( Abbey, A., BeShears, R., Clinton-Sherrod, A. M., & McAuslan, P. (2004). Psychology of Women Quarterly, 28, 323–332."Similarities and differences in women's sexual assault experiences based on tactics used by the perpetrator". Accessed 9 July 2008.)

I would guess that basically all the rapes outdoors are happening in urban areas, rather than on hiking trails, but I don't have numbers on that.

-W

Well yeah, there are probably more rapes in urban areas.  That's where the people are. 

The_path_less_taken

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 655
Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #135 on: April 03, 2015, 07:03:56 AM »
Female, 5'3". Some years back there was a rapist attacking in the Desolation wilderness in Tahoe. I wanted to go on a 3 day hike/camp into the backcountry but my friends were freaking out and insisted I bring their dog (mine had just died, which is why I needed the head space).

I left later in the afternoon than I planned, and was moving along when I came upon a guy just sitting on a boulder. I nodded, and said hi...he just ignored me until I got even with him and then stared at my breasts...

Creeped me out. Then their silly Samoyed (so NOT a guard dog!) ran over, tail wagging, and tried to kiss him: he stared straight out in front of him with a thousand yard stare as though the dog and I didn't exist. As I dragged the dog away from him I noticed he had zero equipment: not even a canteen. And he was wearing loafers, not hiking boots.

I dragged the dog off him and literally ran uphill. He followed me for about two miles. A couple times I stopped and thought I'd wait him out in an area where he couldn't sneak up on me...he stopped and waited me out. I kept moving until full on dark, and just climbed into the sleeping bag and pulled the dog in after me.

And I always 'pack' after that experience.

Wish it was the only incident in Tahoe but I've had creepers follow me off the remote beaches, etc. One grabbed me and I kicked him and ran off...he followed me up to the road and tried to follow me further in his car but I ditched him by passing a bus on a blind curve, then hiding in the turnout: he had no way to turn around before I'd taken off the other way.

If you're on a very popular trail in full daylight and within shouting distance of someone else....maybe. But I think a big dog and a gun are the reality for me. There's some creepy people in the world.

WYOGO

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 149
  • Location: Salt Lake City
  • Great Basin
Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #136 on: April 03, 2015, 02:27:08 PM »
There is far more to fear in metropolitan areas than there ever will be in isolated and remote wilderness. If you are experienced go for it, if not gain the requisite experience. I live in the least populated state in the union and one could roam free for weeks and see no other people. Tell someone your planned itinerary and make it happen.

JLR

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 454
  • Location: Australia
Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #137 on: April 04, 2015, 01:00:10 AM »
I had a friend come visit today, and it made me think of this thread. She was on her way home from a solo camping trip. She said that there were a number of different people she came across near her campsite and while walking - a pair of young female British backpackers, two Muslim men, a large group of male mountain bikers, etc. She said that the interesting thing was that although she said "Hello" to all of them as their paths crossed, not a single person would return her welcome. She said they just kept giving her strange glances, like she must be a bit mentally disturbed as a lone, female camper. We joked around that perhaps they were worried she had murdered her husband and buried him in the bush!

As for my own answer to the OP, I fear being out anywhere by myself. Even with our three children along, I feel more comfortable in a very large group of women and children (safety in numbers), or if my husband is with us. I wouldn't plan a solo hike, or a hike for just myself and our kids. It is sad in some ways, but I feel safer when my husband is with us.

Shamantha

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 123
Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #138 on: April 04, 2015, 01:20:44 AM »
There is far more to fear in metropolitan areas than there ever will be in isolated and remote wilderness. If you are experienced go for it, if not gain the requisite experience. I live in the least populated state in the union and one could roam free for weeks and see no other people. Tell someone your planned itinerary and make it happen.
How would you qualify countries such The Netherlands, where you are never further away than 30 minutes from the next parking lot, no matter where you go for a walk?

deborah

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5760
  • Location: At Home
Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #139 on: April 04, 2015, 02:00:55 AM »
If you are looking at rape statistics, http://www.nationmaster.com/country-info/stats/Crime/Rape-rate shows comparisons by country of rape reported to police. USA, New Zealand and Australia all rate highly. India is very low. So one has to wonder! However, I suspect that OECD countries possibly have similar laws (laws about rape vary and some countries have no rape by a husband, for example) and similar respect for the police force (in some countries many rapes are by the military or condoned by police), so comparisons between these countries might be reasonable.

As someone previously pointed out, this sort of crime is rarely perpetrated outside a building.

Of course, we are not really talking about rape, but these statistics probably bear some relationship to the subject and statistics we actually are talking about.

Jane

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 78
Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #140 on: April 04, 2015, 06:33:34 AM »
I was reminded of this video while reading this thread and how some are dismissing women's fears of encountering an unfamiliar man alone.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b1XGPvbWn0A

Now, imagine how a woman would feel encountering any one of these men alone on a hike. It's not like she could just cross the street or go into a store or feel safe because there are other people around and he likely wouldn't do anything. While it is a remote chance that one of these guys would be on a hike, and if he were that he further escalate it past the verbal assaults, when you are a woman who has been in similar situations countless times throughout her life (and I guarantee all women have at some point, and probably so many times she can't even count) it makes you pause to put yourself in situations where things could get dangerous. There is a very real attitude of some guys that women owe them something, a "smile" or a conversation, or the scary part, more, simply by nature of being a woman.

While statistically unlikely anything will happen, I won't hike alone. I had a scary moment while out on a trail by our house, in a populated suburban area, while accompanied by my husband, that was enough to make me not even go on those trails alone.

Michael792

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 223
  • Age: 25
  • Location: US
    • Rising Ascendant
Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #141 on: April 04, 2015, 06:39:27 AM »
I've hiked alone in three countries, including one with one of the highest murder/rape rates in the world. I'm fine.
I write over at www.risingascendant.com

WYOGO

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 149
  • Location: Salt Lake City
  • Great Basin
Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #142 on: April 04, 2015, 10:50:13 AM »
...isolated and remote wilderness.
How would you qualify countries such The Netherlands, where you are never further away than 30 minutes from the next parking lot, no matter where you go for a walk?

This is a neighborhood stroll. I have done urban hiking in cities of 10-15 million that were more remote than what you are describing. Hiking tends to embody a bit more than just a stroll around the local park in my mind.
« Last Edit: April 04, 2015, 10:53:47 AM by WYOGO »

Shamantha

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 123
Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #143 on: April 04, 2015, 11:01:55 AM »
Haha, a neighbourhood stroll :-) But it's all we have here, and I try to make the most of it, you can walk for as many hours as you want but it's all flat, and none is wild or remote. Which for me equates the risk more to the risks in urban areas, than to those in remote wilderness. Would you agree?

WYOGO

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 149
  • Location: Salt Lake City
  • Great Basin
Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #144 on: April 04, 2015, 11:02:16 AM »
Please remember that most people who set out on journeys to remote and isolated wilderness areas to hike and backpack are there for similar reasons you are and generally are souls satisfied with life and have little interest in traveling hundreds of miles, trekking thousands of feet and braving intense physically demanding terrain to lie wait in a bush an murder random others seeking the same experience. You are more likely to get interesting stories and learn new things from the interaction.

Kind of reminds me of the difference between breaking down in your car on a rural highway in Wyoming vs Southern California. They actually stop and HELP you. Imagine that...

WYOGO

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 149
  • Location: Salt Lake City
  • Great Basin
Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #145 on: April 04, 2015, 11:05:41 AM »
Haha, a neighbourhood stroll :-) But it's all we have here, and I try to make the most of it, you can walk for as many hours as you want but it's all flat, and none is wild or remote. Which for me equates the risk more to the risks in urban areas, than to those in remote wilderness. Would you agree?

You make a good point and I would tend to agree for the reasons I posted earlier. I suspect campgrounds easily accessible from metro areas and close to subdivisions and shopping malls would have far more likelihood of crime and problems than those on the Montana/Canadian border for example. I am more concerned about walking at night down the Las Vegas Strip than spending weeks in the Canadian Rockies.

Roland of Gilead

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1565
Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #146 on: April 04, 2015, 05:50:11 PM »
We were hiking a remote trail in WA state and encountering a muttering wild haired guy who just grunted past us on the trail.   When I turned to look back I saw a gun tucked in his pants above his butt.   It did make me think about two legged critters, especially since there *have* been hikers killed here in WA state.

mtnrider

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 256
  • Location: Frozen tundra in the Northeast
Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #147 on: April 05, 2015, 10:18:49 AM »

I thought about this thread for a few days, while hiking, albeit not alone.

It might be useful to differentiate between hiking and backpacking.  And it's useful to know if the activity is in an area where wildlife attacks are common, etc...

I was thinking back to backpackers/peak baggers I've met on the trails in the last year.  Perhaps 1 out of 10 solo hikers were women.  They were almost always middle aged or older.  One in her twenties was hiking the AT.  One was a ranger.  (I met a few who worked at the AMC huts, not sure if they should count.)  I met no solo woman hikers during the winter.  Solo backpacking in the winter here is dangerous for either sex, but guys seem to be more likely to take risks.  (Notable exception, but I didn't meet her.)

Guys (including myself) have a hard time getting out of the "male privilege" perspective.  Regardless of the actual risks, there's social conditioning at play.

Biases: Personally, I'm suspicious of guys hiking with handguns - no matter how friendly they seem - unless they have what I consider a really good reason to carry.  This is just based on personal experience, and it would change if I hiked in Canada or Alaska.  I'm much less biased against women who carry handguns.

I wonder if women are socially conditioned to feel the same way about guys in general as I feel about guys openly carrying.

mtnrider

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 256
  • Location: Frozen tundra in the Northeast
Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #148 on: April 05, 2015, 10:41:33 AM »
I also cook and sleep in different places, as well as hang my pack high just to make sure they don't mess up my stuff. Not too worried about them attacking though. I think in reality a bear attack (or really any wild animal) is so unlikely that no one has to worry about it. Now getting your camp site trashed IS a worry. I've been camping at very a populated public campground in Yellowstone and the bears just get into everything. Tent and campsite next door to mine just got trashed. Kind of scary but I slept right thru it.

Slept right through it... Hahaha.  But I know what you mean.  There were bear problems like that around my area a decade ago or so, until the FS put up bear boxes.  With some exceptions though, along the Appalachian Trail, it's raccoons, porcupines, and (especially) mice that are the troublemakers.  I've slept right through mice playing acrobat to get at my food.  They managed to munch right through the bear bag and spill out the contents.  And I slept right through this all, happening just feet away.  :)

It made me think twice about what would happen if a bear came upon me when I was sleeping.  Or even if a deer or moose wandered into my sleeping area.


Happy in CA

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 54
Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #149 on: April 05, 2015, 01:47:24 PM »
Since the OP asked for tips on hiking solo with less worry, I'll share mine.  I  am an average to small woman who does a lot of hiking and trail running, mostly in open space preserves and large county parks adjacent to metro areas.  I was attacked but not raped on the sidewalk next to my house 30 years ago.  I screamed and fought and the guy ran off after a few seconds.  This has caused me to be somewhat hypervigilant even to this day. 

Here's what I do: go in the morning when there are more hikers out there (someone will hear me if I scream) go regularly, and stay mostly on trails already familiar to me.  That way if I have to run I will know where I am going.  Of fight or flight I will always opt for the latter, and I would never, ever carry a gun - I am far too excitable.  Thankfully I have never had a problem, and agree with those posters who assure you the risk is miniscule.  The problem is the fear is real even if is disproportionate to the risk.  The solution, for me anyway, is to not give in to the fear.  The more I do the activity the more I recognize the fear as irrational.  And I love the activity so much that I almost never feel afraid while I am doing it, and appreciate the other people on the trails as kindred spirits.

I have not tried solo camping or backpacking yet but it does appeal to me.  I guess I am working up to it - another project for FIRE.