Let me start out by saying this. If you have never spent a couple of nights alone in the wilderness with just a backpack, then go do it.
I’m sure anybody can think of a million reasons to avoid a tiresome, sweaty, bug-infested romp through miles of dirt, just to sleep on the cold, hard ground alone for a night or two. But check this out - have you ever thought of the reasons to do it?
I’ll go ahead and break that down for you. I headed a couple of hours north to Big Sur recently for a quick weekend alone and solidified a few reasons to go out into the wilderness and get lost by yourself. So here’s a little list of examples of what I got out of it, and why you should do it, too. (Hint… there are more reasons than just drinking whiskey. Although that is usually reason enough for me.)
This can be a little tough nowadays with all the blogs(!), Instagram feeds, and information floating around out there, but don’t let that deter you. Everybody loves stumbling onto an isolated oasis, seemingly plucked from one of John Muir’s personal notebooks, and set on a certain trail, just for you to find. And when you’re able to find it alone, out past the overcrowded front country sites filled with slogging tourists taking pictures on their giant IPads, it’s that much better.
I took off into the Silver Peak Wilderness in southern Big Sur determined to find that spot. I knew I would have to suffer through the hordes of mindless picture takers, deafly stumbling together in a line, step-by-step towards the nearest sound of water but, as always, they all stopped at the first sight of the closest waterfall. But in this case, I can’t blame them. This one was amazing, so I shouldered my way through throngs of bodies, and stopped to take a picture.
Then I continued on. After a couple miles of steep switchbacks, coughing up dirt in the exposed sun, I dropped down into a shaded valley, everything dipped in green, like a pub on St. Paddy’s Day. At this point, the crowds had dispersed completely, so I started looking for that secret spot. Scanning the trail from left to right, I eventually spotted a shimmering, deep green pool down the side of the cliff. After some bushwhacking and near slips, I reached a better viewpoint and was able to catch a glimpse of a pounding waterfall, dumping ten feet into the pool. Shimmying down the steep dirt face of the cliff, grasping tree roots and logs, I reached the glistening water line, not one human being in sight. It was about time for a swim at that point, so I took off my backpack, reached for my flask, took a shot of whiskey, and plunged in.
Stay tuned in here and check back soon, as I continue my list of reasons to go backpacking by yourself!
Check out more of Steve Hill's Adventures on Insta @mayorhill
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So you survived your first night alone in the wilderness, and maybe even enjoyed it a little, huh?