Solo Hikin’ Lady
By Lena Schmidt
I usually hike with my best buddy Clementine. She’s only two and a half and she has four legs and lots of fur, but she’s still my hiking bestie. But where I was headed, no dogs are allowed on the trails, so that day I was on my own. I had asked a few friends if they’d like to join for an afternoon hike (yes ☺ they said, but I have to work ☹ they said) but as a yoga teacher I have random free chunks of time during weekdays that many others don’t, so, no dog and no friends, I was truly on my own. Having just read an article that hiking solo as a female actually isn’t as dangerous as we may think (it’s much more dangerous to be a woman walking down the damn street than on the trail, apparently) and needing to scout the details of this hike for an upcoming yoga retreat, off I went.
I was actually pretty excited. Besides the one-miler I hiked on my own off the Blue Ridge Parkway on a road trip in 2011 (during which I practically ran, due to fear, even though it was pretty well populated and clearly marked and totally light out) this was going to be my first solo hike. This is gonna be great, I thought. You got this. No problem! Just lace up your boots. As an experienced hiker and WFR (Wilderness First Responder) I know the potential dangers of hiking and the added dangers when you’re alone (no cell service, wild animals, rattlers, heat exhaustion, dehydration, accidental fall, predatory men) so I loaded up my water and first aid kit, told the ranger where I was headed, when I planned to be back, and bravely made my way to the trailhead.
I had practiced yoga the previous day and since it was Ganesha’s birthday (even elephant-headed yogic deities like to eat cake!) we had chanted om gam ganapatayai namaha honoring the famous remover of obstacles over and over and over. I had that mantra stuck in my head as I stepped onto the trail. This boded well as I headed out and felt a little jumpy at the sticks-that-could-be-snakes and maybe-it’s-a-mountain-lion rustles in the trees: obstacles be gone! I chanted loud and proud as I hiked. Om gam ganapatayai namaha, om, gam ganapatayai namaha. It became meditative. I listened to my breath. I listened to my boots as they hit the dirt. I checked my map compulsively. I scanned the path in front of me. And it worked! The ultimate goal: I was aware, but not afraid.
Though it would have been great to have my best girl Clem with me (ahem, California State Parks take note), I enjoyed the alone time (surprisingly I didn’t run into even one other hiker or biker) and hopped off the trail 5.5 miles (!) later feeling alive and empowered. I’m so glad I went. Cuyamaca Rancho State Park has many trails to choose from and I look forward to sharing this one with the folks coming on my next Dawn to Dusk Yoga and Hiking Retreat.
Here’s to happiness and hiking!
Photos from the recent Dawn to Dusk Yoga and Hiking Retreat <3
Yogini. Hiker. Happiness-seeker. Dog-mama. Feminist. Yummy-food-eater. Whether it’s exploring the local trails, playing pretzel on the yoga mat, or diving into a book on inner peace, Lena loves an adventure. You can find her teaching yoga in San Diego, leading retreats near and far, and empowering others to be the change they wish to see in the world.