| by Sandy Pena

The first day of Spring: Solo hiking edition

Author's note: I'm writing this while surrounded by an ever-increasing layer of fresh snow, so it doesn't feel much like Spring. However, I realize that many of you are in warmer climes and you should definitely feel smug about it. To that end, I'm writing this for you, you lucky dog.

I honestly didn't even realize it was the first day of Spring until I looked at my calendar. Usually, Spring is the time I haul out my big crate of backpacking gear and evaluate what is good (external frame backpacks are still cool, right?) and what needs to be replaced (this camp stove hose has seen better days).

But, ya know, I think we've all had other stuff on our minds.

And I realize that "social distancing" is what all the cool kids are doing (and what all of us uncool kids have been doing for our entire lives!), but it seems to me -- and please do correct me if I'm wrong -- that it's kind of a good time to get back into solo hiking and camping.

I first went backpacking by myself just two years ago, and once I got over the creepy factor (every rustle sounds like a mountain lion), and the fact that I had to take off my backpack every time I needed lip balm or bug spray, it was absolutely AMAZING.

When you're hiking solo, you get to set your own pace.

Want to amble along taking photos of every root configuration, rock pile, and glimpse of fauna? Want to climb the highest mountain in record speed, and really get your blood pumping? It's all up to you!

When you're hiking solo, you get to decide when to press on and when to turn back.

If you're not feeling it, you have the freedom to be the master of your fate and the returner to your car. If you're driven by curiosity, you might just want to check out what's just over that next hill or beyond that next bend in the trail.

Do you like hiking? Friends or solo?

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