An ode to self guided hiking: why I'd do it again

Views from Mount Morios, Charlevoix | Tourisme Charlevoix
Views from Mount Morios, Charlevoix | Tourisme Charlevoix

Ideal for the confident and independent traveler, with support in the background, self-guided hikes are fun and flexible.

Nothing feels better than that first day out on the trail. You’ve left the city behind and all that comes with it; the crowds, the lights, the noises, and the hustle and bustle. You are free to forget about work; the deadlines, the emails and your 9 to 5 routine.

There’s no room for any of that in the woods. You are too distracted by the beauty of where you are and the need to keep putting one foot in front of the other. It's truly an amazing feeling to know that for the next few days you don’t need an alarm clock, you don’t need a schedule. All you need to think about is getting from one campsite to the next. That is the beauty of a self-guided hike, it opens you up to live life completely on your own terms.

The other upside is that all the nitty-gritty details of organising transport, food, accommodation, route logistics and mapping were all taken care of beforehand by the organisation that you travel with. Meaning that you can simply focus on your experience ahead.

Something I love to do when I go hiking on my own is to take my watch off – leave it behind completely. Why do I need a clock anyway? I can eat when I’m hungry, sleep when I’m tired and wake up to the sun. I take pleasure in the fact that I don’t need to set an alarm. Instead, I always try to position my tent so that I am facing the sunrise; there’s no better way to wake up than to the sunrise.

A self-guided hike gives you freedom. The freedom to hike at your own pace, stop when you want or keep walking as long as you want.

You can spend 15 minutes getting that perfect photo of a beautiful wildflower, or just sit and look out and contemplate. There will be no one telling you that it’s time to leave or to hurry up because you are running late. No one telling you to stop and rest when you don’t need to.

Though you shouldn't worry about being completely isolated as you won’t be the only one out there doing it on your own. You will meet other people who are also enjoying the perks of a self-guided hike. While you may not walk with them during the day, they will all be waiting for everyone to arrive safely at camp. It becomes a lovely little community with everyone looking out for each other, sharing some coffee or some chocolate and lending a hand if something breaks.

By the end of the week, you will have formed friendships with other hikers – who knows, you may have found a new hiking buddy for future adventures!

There may be moments where you second-guess yourself on the trail, where you think, 'Maybe I can’t do this? Maybe I should have bought that other pair of boots or an extra layer of warmth or that flask of port?' By the end of the hike though, you will have had to motivate yourself, talk yourself through situations, saying, 'Hang on, I can do this!'

Knowing that you made it all this way, relying on no one other than yourself, awards you with such a great sense of achievement you will be planning your next self-guided adventure on the way back home.

Words by Holly Van De Beek.

 

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