A new normal  Solo Tramping

In light of social distancing restrictions, Sarah Tiong gives solo tramping a try. She discovers not only the benefits of going at her own pace, but how rewarding it can be to ‘leave the psychological security of safety in numbers.’

By Sarah Tiong

It had been a long night and sleep did not come upon me. Fears of the pitter patter from my four legged hut mate running across my face caused me to sit up and shine my torch around with every rustle. Isn’t it strange to be comfortable with traveling solo but take more comfort in sharing a hut with other human strangers than sharing it with a little mouse, I muse.

I am not a very seasoned solo adventurer. My handful of solo tramps and bike rides in NZ have been predominantly around Central Otago: an overnight loop of lower Timaru River and Breast Hill, a ride through Thomson Gorge, the aforementioned sleepless trip to Mt Aurum, to name a few. Some trips have resulted from a lack of available buddies or a Friday night pack-up-and-go decision.

However some trips have been a conscious decision. As I ventured more into solo adventuring, I have derived an enjoyment from it different from trips with others. I get to travel at my desired pace, to spend an extra hour lingering by a gurgling brook, to eat all the chocolate in the first two hours without apologies. Not to mention the discovery of illogical reasonings within one’s own mind.

Sometimes my senses are sharpened when I become conscious that I have to be self-reliant. Solo adventuring can push me to hone and trust my own intuitions and decision making. Should I cross the river here or further upstream? Should I take this ridge or that? The consequences loom larger, or so they seem when we leave the psychological security of safety in numbers. But so can the rewards.

I write this knowing that solo adventuring will not be everyone’s cup of tea. But in current Covid days, that may the most viable option to getting an internal outdoor recreation fuel tank top up. If you are new to this, start small. Visit an area you’re familiar with before considering new places. Know clearly what is within your current skillset. And make sure you leave your intentions with someone responsible.

So best wishes on your upcoming solo adventure. And I promise, that when we’re allowed to go overnight again,  I will send a little mouse to keep you company.

Wilderlife