Don’t let being alone stop you


Last time, I talked about how experiences are better shared with people, and in fact can be less important than the people themselves and their camaraderie.

But as I was writing, I had a interesting devil’s advocate thought: “That sounds wonderful, but what if you don’t have people to do these things with? If it’s all about the people, what if there aren’t any people?

What do you do if you want to climb a mountain with others, to experience the joy of spending time with others, but there are no others around?

You go anyway. And if my experience is any guide, you won’t be by yourself for long.

This body climbed Mt. Washington

I climbed Mt. Washington in New Hampshire a few years ago. Solo.

The hike was fine, at least until I lost the trail. (Note to self: when you lose the trail, don’t keep going, thinking you’ll find it again. You won’t. Backtrack.) With the weather deteriorating and me lost among the boulders with no one around, I confess that it was not the highlight of my existence.

Striving to keep the anxiety at bay, I climbed down, in the vague direction of where I thought the trail might be. As I was far off the trail, the boulders were steep and unrelenting. I was soaked, and cut myself up in the process of my creative descent.

This body survived Mt. Washington

But eventually I found the trail again. And as I rejoined it, I spied a guy walking by himself.

I asked if I could join him. He seemed more than pleased for the company.

We hiked the rest of the trail in the rain, the trail more a stream than a hiking route. He lent me one of his hiking poles so I would be less likely to slip and injure myself.

We talked all the way up. He apparently led hikes in the area for older people (his business card said something like “Old Folks Adventures”). He was good-natured and patient, and was exactly the person I wanted to be hiking with.

His wife was waiting for him at the top of the mountain (Mt. Washington being one of the only mountains with a gift shop at the top) and she kindly gave me a ride back down to my car. I bade them farewell and spent the next 20 minutes huddled under a hand dryer, to dry myself as much as possible before driving home.

This was years ago

If you were to ask me what I remember most about this trip, it was the friend I made while hiking. Once again, even when hiking alone, I was able to link up with another traveler, and once again, it was all about the people.

Don’t let being by yourself keep you from going out and doing awesome things. You will meet others along the way, and share in the adventures together.

(And due to the Internet never forgetting anything, I just found a picture from this hike on this guy’s photostream:)

An unlikely pairing
An unlikely pairing.

But enough about me: what do you when you’re solo and you want to have adventures with others?


  1. saulofhearts

    Very cool! I used to go there all the time when I was a kid (that’s me and my dad in the picture). As for the post, I felt this problem very acutely on my trip to Burning Man this year. Very few of my friends were camping with me, so I was mostly on my own, and I kept thinking of the quote from “Into the Wild”: “Happiness is only real when shared.” I didn’t run into that problem on my first few trips because everything was so new to me then. I generally find that the more novel the experience, the less I get distracted by loneliness. So my rule of thumb is if it’s my first time doing something, I’m fine on my own, but if I return, I want to make sure I take the right people to share it with.

    • Mike

      Hey, that’s great! Thanks for the pic of you and Mr. Of Hearts!

      Going with people is good, but finding the right people is key, though, as the wrong crew can make you feel even worse. (But I can’t imagine going to Burning Man alone!)

      I feel very similarly about the Seattle-to-Portland ride. People have asked me if I’ll do it again, and I’ve said I’ll consider it, but only if people go with me this time!

Comments are closed.