There are advantages to solo hiking, but hiking with a buddy or in a group has numerous benefits that can make your backcountry expedition even better. After all, we’re social creatures and everyone enjoys being surrounded by like-minded people set out for a similar goal, whether that’s reaching the summit of a 14er, traveling the one hundred sixty-five miles of the Tahoe Rim Trail or taking in the vistas of your favorite path in a nearby forest. Sharing these experiences with a friend or loved one can create memories and stories to be told and reminisced for a lifetime. Not to mention the added bonuses of being able to work as a team and keep hazardous situations at bay.
Here are five reasons making your trek inclusive is a good idea!
Share the load
Think Outside of the Box
Safety in Numbers
Share the Load:
When taking the backcountry on as a pair or small group not everyone needs to bring their own individual tent, water filter, stove or even meal storage, especially if you’re carrying a bar canister. Unless of course you just prefer to or plan to travel a long distance over an extended period of time and need the extra gear and separate space. For shorter stays in the backcountry, however, it’s a good idea to lighten the load and spread gear around. Ounces equal pounds and pounds equal... well, I’m sure you get the idea.
For example one person in the party carries the groups tent, another carries the bear canister containing the groups food, while in cases of more than two the third packs the groups cookware, cooking supplies, and water filter and so on. These essentials are delegated among the group in addition to their own personal gear like spare clothing, sleeping bags, and the like.
On my first trip to Yosemite I was with a couple friends and we had our gear efficiently packed to such a science we would have made any minimalist proud; only to find that we were required to carry all of our food in an overweight bear canister. We quickly unpacked our gear and shifted community items around so that the guy stuck with the canister didn’t have to carry more than his fair share. This method worked so well I continue to use it anytime I go into the backcountry for an extended time with groups.
Whether it’s a little push of encouragement to overcome the final incline of a summit, crush the last miles of a long trek or make the next waypoint. It’s always good and much appreciated to be there for one another, you’ll be especially grateful when you’re the one that needs some extra motivation. No matter the level of experience in your group of backcountry athletes it’s impossible for everyone to be on the same page all the time, but with inspiration and positive energy to feed from the whole group will make it together. So take time to enjoy the views, make jokes when the trail gets tough, and be glad your friends and loved ones are as crazy and hardcore as you. Working together only makes your team stronger and nothing is too difficult when supported by an enthusiastic and motivated group.
Ok, perhaps not actual history for the books, but certainly your own history. Your group of wilderness explorers is most likely already tight knit or will be after your upcoming adventures together. The memories and experiences you create by pushing yourselves against the elements are some that you will all draw from and share for years to come. So don’t hesitate to document your adventure by taking pictures and video of both the scenery you shared and the challenges you overcame as well as the funny trail occurrences that are bound to happen when you get friends together. These are the stories that will push you on later trails and that you will laugh about together.
I’m an avid photographer of all my trips into the wilderness. The files of images and video from different excursions take up a lot of space on my computer and many external hard drives. And the videos burned to disc that I, along with my fellow adventurers, compile after memorable treks to cool spots are always in high demand for those that took part in the adventure.
Think Outside the Box:
We should always be growing and challenging ourselves to go farther and gain more exposure to what the backcountry has to offer. In a group, or with a trekking partner, this becomes even more possible. You may be wary of trekking a long distance or in unfamiliar terrain alone, but with some of your closest friends by your side to divide the load, motivate, and share the experience with, you would probably be more apt to take that challenge on. There should always be someone that pushes the rest of the group to explore more than they would otherwise; perhaps this person is you. This is a good thing; some of the best adventures come from stepping outside the confines of comfort zones. There’s far too much to see just to settle for the small bits that are comfortable. As John Muir said: The world is big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark.
Safety in Numbers:
In a group there’s always someone that has your back if things go south. Hazardous situations don’t always involve injuries, if an unexpected storm rolls in, teams work more efficiently setting up a shelter or helping each other find cover. Navigation is also less complicated when multiple hikers have the same destination in mind. In groups of two you are less likely to encounter a bear, and those chances significantly drop when hiking in groups of three or more. This drop in risk is due to the noise that larger groups create, which gives bears and other wildlife a proper heads up that humans are approaching, giving them more space to evacuate. And while many injuries can be self treated others require assistance. Just think of all the stories about people who have found themselves in a bind in the backcountry, but were alone and would have been helped or helped sooner had they been with another backcountry athlete. Two heads are better than one and three are better than two.
A few summers ago my brother and I trekked to the top of a popular glacier in Colorado with the intent to spend the day snowboarding. Unfortunately, I took a tumble on the rough icy slope and dislocated my shoulder. Thankfully my brother was close at hand. I quickly recalled my medical training and talked him through the process of applying traction and resetting the bone back into socket (I dont recommend attempting this without prior training). Since the separation had only just occurred the surrounding injured muscles hadn’t seized yet. With both of us gently pulling, me away from him while he pulled my out of place arm, we successfully replaced the joint. I was then able to more comfortably travel, with him driving, to have it looked at for further damage at the hospital. Fortunately there was none. This would be another story had I been alone and tried to make it off the mountain and to the hospital alone with a shoulder all out of wack.
Enjoy the journey, and may your trails lead to the best views!