Get Out There

Shocking Headlines Underscore Importance of Hiking Buddies

We frequently see articles about hiking alone. We understand the appeal of solitude. However, in the past, we have written about the benefits of hiking with company. Recent headlines of hikes gone wrong have reminded us why we believe hiking with a partner is essential.

Originally, we were going to make this blog all about the legacy of the Great American Outdoors Act that Pres. Trump signed into law in 2020. It was the largest stand-alone investment in public lands in American history and “a conservationist’s dream.”

In three and a half years, it has accomplished great things. It has freed up conservationists’ time so that they can do important work instead of spending time lobbying for funds. They have money to take care of a backlog of problems in public spaces. And the money comes from oil and gas companies, not taxes.

That was our plan. Then, multiple headlines came out that shocked us. There was the impressive story of a woman who finished a 6,800-mile hike and became the first solo woman to complete the American Discovery Trail. It took Briana DeSanctis a little more than two years to finish. She said, “I’ve learned that I have a lot more perseverance than I think I do, and I think that’s really true for everybody.”

At the same time, three scary headlines surfaced in the world of hiking news this week. A young woman’s body was found a week after she went hiking alone during a winter storm. She lost contact with her family during the hike. Rescuers initially could not reach her because of the bad weather. A man in California fell 30 feet down a waterfall on a popular trail. The recent rain caused flooding and slippery conditions. He had to be transported by helicopter to a hospital to treat his injuries. Finally, a man killed a coyote with his bare hands after it attacked him. Thankfully, while the man was bitten he is okay.

From available reports, all three people were alone. They are scary stories. The coyote had rabies. Coyotes generally do not attack humans. Rabid coyotes have attacked entire families who were out hiking in the past. Having company can’t always prevent scary or tragic events. But it can provide you with immediate help in those situations.

None of these people “deserved” what happened to them. We’re certainly not saying that what happened to them is the consequence of going out alone or blaming them for their situations. Hiking alone can result in a triumphant headline like Ms. DeSanctis’ story. Even if they had been with company, their horrible situations might not have been avoidable. All of us can misjudge the weather, take a wrong step or be attacked by an animal. But sometimes, problems can be avoided when you have a partner to point out a hazard or help you make a plan.

Going into nature with company can be safer. Sharing the trail with someone you care about and making new memories can also be fun. Seeing the sites together can bring you joy as well as safety! It’s a different experience than hiking alone but equally rewarding.  

Banner image: Kampus Production via Pexels

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