Posted by Stacy Gold on 30th June 2022
A while back, I was talking to my husband, and he mentioned what a rarity it was that I didn’t have friends or family who got me into outdoor adventure sports. I started going on solo outdoor adventures to satisfy my need to get out there because I didn’t know anyone else who wanted to go.
Sure, I grew up running around in the woods of Georgia, but until I met my first serious boyfriend at 15, I’d never been camping outside of going with Girl Scouts twice a year. My grandmother bought me my first backpack for my 16th birthday, though it took another year for me to find people to go with.
Luckily, when I started at Georgia State University, I discovered the school had a terrific outdoor adventure program. At that point, I still didn’t feel confident camping alone. So, I signed up for weeklong trips canoeing the Okefenokee Swamp and sea kayaking the Altamaha river in South GA, plus I went caving, bike around the warm springs of Northern Florida, and more. Often, I didn’t know anyone else on the trip. But I was hooked and signed up for every trip I could.
By the time I transferred to the Recreation Resource Management program at Colorado State, I had a lot more experience and confidence. That’s when I landed my first gig as a volunteer Forest Service Backcountry Ranger and regularly had to hike into the wilderness solo for two or three days. Since then I’ve traveled around Europe alone, kayaked and mountain biked solo, and done plenty of camping road trips by myself.
Entire books have been written on the subject of how getting outdoors positively impacts both mental and physical health. I know I’m my best self when I’m active out in nature. It relieves my stress, fills my soul, and reminds me that I am but a tiny flea on the earth—which means most of what I’m worried about isn’t that important. By not waiting to find someone with the same schedule and desires as me, I get out more.
On top of that, I have the freedom to do whatever I want without worrying about what anybody else wants or needs. I can stop early or keep going. Enjoy a down day, or not. Even adventures to other countries and cities are wonderfully relaxing solo. It’s also given me a ton of self-confidence in life in general to know I am perfectly capable on my own.
Well, the first few are concerns anyone should have—even if they’re with others: Getting lost, getting injured, getting in over your head, attraction the attention of bears and other wildlife. And unfortunately, women also have to worry about encountering certain men who perhaps don’t have our best interests at heart. It’s sad but it’s also the elephant in the room so I want to address it.
Again, most of this advice is true whether you’re going solo or with a partner or group.
Honestly (knock on wood), I’ve never had any real problem with people or wildlife on my adventures. And I work hard to be prepared and make good choices so I greatly reduce my risk of getting lost or injured.
This is the minimum you should carry if you’re heading outdoors for adventure—whether solo or with a partner or group. Plus, I’ve added in a few extras you might want to carry. Depending on the adventure and climate, you might add to this list or swap out a few clothing items.
REI offers classes, adventure travel trips, day trips and other events at their locations across the country
Girls Who Hike is a Florida based group getting out on the trails
The Adventurous Woman is a Tampa Bay based social outdoor adventure group
Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission offers class to help women get started hiking, fishing, paddling, camping and more
Women Who Hike offers group hikes and other events nationwide through their website and their network of local Facebook groups
Backcountry Babes offers backcountry skiing events, guided trips and group adventures in California and beyond
Explore Origin has a list of 10 women’s organizations catering to a variety of specific sports and types of participants
IMBA’s website is a great starting place if you’re interested in mountain biking, or just Google mountain biking and your area, to find local mountain bike organizations that lead free group rides
Of course, both Facebook and Meetup.com host a ton of groups dedicated to women pursuing outdoor adventures and sports from mountain biking, to climbing, to hiking, whitewater kayaking, and world travel.
So, stop waiting for someone else to go with you…Go solo and start having fun outdoor adventures now!
Check out my latest release, Wild at Heart. A modern-day twist on the usual damsel in distress romance, the more experienced heroine rescues the hero on the Pacific Crest Trail in Washington. They each set out alone to find themselves, and end up coming across each other multiple time–usually naked.