"Hiking with Bob. Denali National Park, AK" United States of America Off The Beaten Path Tip by goingsolo
United States of America Off The Beaten Path: 302 reviews and 511 photos
Hiking alone scares me. There's something about a narrow dirt path cutting thru dense shrubbery that evokes a primal fear of lurking unseen dangers which takes my imagination to places it shouldn't go.
I'd dreamed of visiting Alaska & planned this trip for some time. When my traveling companion canceled at the last minute, I decided to go solo.
My journey took me to Denali NP, one of the most remote wilderness areas in the US. A nearly roadless region home to many wildlife species. Despite my fear, I enjoy hiking. So I opted for less remote trails where I would encounter other hikers. Knowing there were others around would eliminate the fear that would inevitably creep in while hiking alone thru densely forested areas with no sound other than the rustling of my day pack against my shoulder as I walked.
On my last morning, I set out on a popular trail near the park's entrance. Light rain fell, as it had steadily done throughout the 3 days I spent in Denali, & the trail was disappointingly empty.
Determined to do some hiking, despite the constant rain & lack of a traveling companion, I tried to brush aside my fear. I began humming & stomping as I trudged along, making as much noise as possible to extinguish the silence & alert any wildlife to my presence. But, as I continued farther into the woods, the rain-soaked dirt softened into thick mud, engulfing my boots & muffling my footsteps. My thoughts, consumed with encounters with bears who might perceive a defenseless hiker as a threat, I decided to abandon my long-anticipated hike.
As I walked away, a group of 4 headed towards tan adjacent trail. Great, I thought, why weren't they here earlier? As if reading my thoughts, a white haired, bearded gentleman with bright eyes & a friendly smile, greeted me enthusiastically. "Don't tell me you've already finished!" he exclaimed, pausing to chat while his group hurried ahead.
I admitted that I was traveling solo & afraid to hike alone. With a friendly smile, he said enthusiastically, "then come with us!"
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