Solo Adventurer Introduction:
Recently, I have had multiple women reach out to me and inquire about solo adventuring. I have encouraged these women to push their comfort levels given they take necessary steps to remain safe. But it highlighted a topic that needs more coverage, especially as the snow melts and summer adventures unfold.
My tip for solo adventuring is to respect the wild and plan accordingly. For me, this means carrying a personal tracking device (PTD). I like the Garmin inReach because it allows two-way messaging without cell service, which can be done from an app on your phone.
What follows is a series of five interviews with PNW adventurers that aren’t afraid to go it alone. They reveal what gets their fight or flight responses going and how they overcome it. Hopefully, their stories and words of encouragement will let you know that fear is totally normal, and so is rising about it and freeing your wild!
Have a question or an idea for a topic, shoot me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
This month’s featured trail runner is Stephanie Howe Violett.
Stephanie is based in Bend, OR and has her Ph.D. in nutrition and exercise science, which she puts to work as a running coach and sports nutritionist. She is also an accomplished runner with a Western States and Lake Sonoma championship, amongst others. Learn more about Stephanie from her website.
- Have you always been comfortable adventuring alone?
For the most part, yes. I grew up spending time in the outdoors and I think my parents encouraged me to explore and spend time outside. I was always the kid that wanted to be outside playing and exploring a new place. As I got older and started running, I got out further and further. I was never afraid to go out alone, and I’m entirely sure why. I always felt confident in my ability to problem solve and take care of myself.
- Do you still experience fear when alone on the trail? If so, how do you manage it in the moment?
Not really. I’m pretty aware and I don’t wear headphones.
- How has your comfort level evolved over time?
The more time I spend alone and encounter challenging situations, the more confident I become. But also the smarter and more careful I am. I always carry enough to survive a night out in the mountains.
- Was there a turning point that made you more comfortable? What was it?
I think every time I problem solve through something, like getting really lost, I gain more confidence.
- Do you adventure alone because of preference or necessity?
Preference! I love being by myself in the wilderness.
- Describe a solo adventure.
On my birthday last year, I ran for 3 days in the French/Italian Alps solo. I ran up to a hut high up on a glacier and stayed the night, then crossed the glacier solo the next day. I didn’t have a route planned out, so I just explored (and got lost) the entire next day. I was on my feet for 10-12 hours. I stayed the second night in a hut on the Italian side and then ran into Courmayeur the next day. It was really great to do this on my bday. But I do stuff like this all the time. I often will adventure with my dogs when I’m in the US. I rarely ever plan a route- we just go explore and sometimes spend the night. It’s my absolute favorite thing to do!
- What steps do you take to ensure safety when adventuring alone?
I always have a space blanket, lighter, extra clothing, a shower cap (waterproof head cover), and food. I’ve all of these things in the past and carry them on almost every run.
- What would you tell someone that is nervous about encountering wildlife?
Animals are predictable and don’t want to stir up any problems. They are only defensive when they have young with them. I think being aware (don’t wear freaking headphones!) is the number one thing, then respecting the animals and their space.
- What is the scariest part of adventuring alone?
I have gotten lost and been really wet and cold before. That to me is the scariest because it can turn dangerous very quickly. Carrying extra warm gear is mandatory for me.
- What is the longest adventure you would consider doing alone?
I’d do almost anything alone. I think the sky’s the limit for me.
- How has solo adventuring changed your confidence outside of trail running?
I guess it’s boosted my overall self-efficacy and confidence in everything that I do. I’m not afraid to take on any challenge. That doesn’t mean I’ll always be successful, but I’m usually willing to try.