Sunday, June 20, 2010
After finishing the loop, I still had time and energy, so I set out on the 2.2 mile Tennessee Rock trail, which leaves from the same parking area. This loop had a view of the mountains I'd climbed earlier that day, and I enjoyed looking at my maps and consulting my compass, trying to gain perspective. I also continued on to Ada Hi-Falls, which didn't have too much water flowing. If there had been any more trails, I'd probably have done them as well. Some days, I can't get enough hiking.
One thing I realized on this trip is that I really enjoy hiking solo because I can walk my own long-legged, fast pace. I bound up the hills. I can start ridiculously early in the morning, and I can keep hiking as long as I want. But the downside is that I don't stop as often to see things, which is something I really appreciate about hiking with some of my friends and with the Trail Dames-- I've really learned to savor the experience of being outside and to slow down. I would like to incorporate more of this into my solo hikes.
One recommendation that I often see about solo hiking is never to tell people that you are alone. I'm naturally a very poor liar, so on this hike I planned on saying things like, "oh my hiking partner is right behind me." But on this trip, I had the realization that people can just tell that I'm hiking solo- it was obvious to them even before I'd open my mouth. I met two women at the trailhead who were out for their first hike, and I spend a while talking to them about the trails. They were really surprised to see a woman hiking alone, but I told them I felt safer out in the woods than I do walking around some of my old neighborhoods or driving on the highway.
I decided that when I meet someone on the trail that my intuition says is OK, that I won't lie to them. And I will save the precautionary behavior for when my gut tells me to watch out.