When I mention the treks I’ve done/ plan on doing in conversation the most common questions I get especially from females revolve around safety doing it alone.
Personally I think it does depend on what sort of person you are, there is a lot of loneliness on treks and you can go a couple days without seeing or talking to anyone, so if you are someone who is happy in your own company you will feel more at ease.
When walking a trail, you will meet people along the way, some will just say hello and others you walk with for a few minutes or miles. You end up getting to know people by name or reputation, and even hear about others which you may then come across yourself and recognize them from descriptions. This also brings a level of comfort, if others are being talked about then so are you. It could be you end up seeing the same people at the end of everyday because you walk at the same pace, so if you haven’t seen someone in a while then ask around, someone is bound to know and they may do the same about you.
You may come to a part of a trek you feel uneasy about, say a large section is through some woods or a mountain path. Chances are if you’re feeling like that someone else is, so ask around at your hostel and find a walking buddy!
The few times I’ve felt at unease is on the approach to a large city, navigating through suburbs and industrial estates. Mainly because you’ve been so used to the countryside and lack of people, also because the path sometimes isn’t clearly marked or it has changed altogether since the release of your guide/ map. When I know a large city is coming up I usually cut the millage that day in order to give myself time to navigate to my destination, thus knowing I have time and daylight on my side and don’t need to panic! But then some of my favourite times have been when staying in a city getting up and heading out really early before the city has woken up, wandering around the empty streets taking in the stillness, almost feeling smug for seeing it in a different light.
Another one is if you’re an early riser like me and start your day in pitch black. The day before when I’ve reached my destination and settled in I would then go for a wander around and look for where the path continues. This will help you to recognise it and stay on track in the morning darkness. Also make sure your torch is working properly!
Here is a list of tips:
- Before you start your trek let family and friends have a copy of your itinerary including your accommodation, if it changes along the way for any reason try and let them know. I know part of going on a trek is to leave behind technology and be by yourself, but it does help to check in someone once in a while – if not for your sake but for their peace of mind! (sorry mum).
- Have a basic back up map stored in a safe waterproof place in your backpack in case you loose your main one.
- Read over the next days journey the night before to remind yourself of the path, the names of the places along the way and end destination.
- Your phone should be stored within easy access when carrying your back pack, preferably in a waterproof case.
- A whistle within easy reach, in case you slip or injure yourself and if your need to get attention.
- A bright torch, make sure the batteries have been replaced before you start! I usually bring a back up head torch too.
- Plenty of water and snacks such as trail bars and nuts.
- Don’t be naïve, be savvy! If something makes you uncomfortable let someone know.