Meet Mikaela: A Solo Tripper Who Desires To Assist Individuals Get Outdoors4 min learn

Mikaela Ferguson is on a mission: to provide the data and abilities it’s good to take higher journeys outdoors.

No stranger to the outside, Mikaela fell in love with backcountry tripping when she was a child at camp. She educated to be a visit information so she might spend extra time open air and began main journeys at camp and finally for tour firms, together with a stint main out of doors excursions in Nunavut, Canada. Mikaela is comfortable traversing the wilderness: “Wherever I can have a tent and be away from civilization.”

It was after she stopped guiding professionally that she began taking solo journeys within the backcountry. Whereas she does typically carry family and friends together with her, she usually goes out solo. “If I waited for somebody to go along with me, I’d by no means get to go,” she tells me over Zoom. “As soon as I get the thought to do a selected route, I don’t need to wait.”

Going solo has its challenges and advantages. When going alone, Mikaela usually plans longer and extra rigorous days. She likes to be energetic moderately than having lengthy afternoons alone with nothing to do. Some folks do take pleasure in that alone time on a solo journey, however Mikaela would moderately plan a extra vigorous route and go at her personal tempo. 

One of many greatest challenges to going solo is the preparation concerned. Not solely do you need to carry all your gear (and have the talents to paddle your individual canoe if it’s a canoe journey), however it’s good to take a extra rigorous strategy to threat administration. “If I get myself right into a state of affairs, I must know I can get myself out of that state of affairs alone.”  With a gaggle, if somebody will get injured, you possibly can coordinate a rescue. Alone, you need to be sure to can handle your self. 

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However Mikaela doesn’t need to discourage anybody from going out alone, particularly girls who are sometimes informed that it’s not secure. “If something, it’s a person downside,” Mikaela says. She shared that almost all occasions she’s felt uncomfortable within the backcountry have been when she’s come throughout a solo male hiker who asks too many questions.

For those who’d like to start out going into the backcountry solo, Mikaela has three ideas for you:

1. Ease into it

Earlier than you dive into backcountry tenting, begin by getting snug going solo automotive tenting. You’ll get to follow organising your tent and getting ready your meals by yourself. For those who neglect something or aren’t having fun with the expertise, you possibly can simply get within the automotive and go elsewhere. 

You also needs to follow happening day hikes or solo paddles alone. When you’re snug paddling or climbing and tenting by yourself, you’re prepared to enter the backcountry! 

2. Be additional ready

Take a wilderness medication or wilderness first support course. Learn to make a route card and a search and rescue name earlier than you head out in your first solo journey. Have a plan for what to do in case of unhealthy climate or damage, comply with guidelines about meals storage and research the map so that you’re conversant in the route and campsites together with any shortcuts to exit the park if wanted.

3. Be self-aware

When going solo, it’s essential to be sincere about something that is likely to be a limiting issue for you. Don’t plan a route that requires you to hike or paddle the longest distance you’d be snug masking in a day. Give your self buffer time to get misplaced or drained or run into surprising obstacles en route—particularly if it’s your very first solo journey. 

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Take into consideration what challenges may come up for you mentally or bodily alongside the best way. Are you afraid of animals? Nervous about being misplaced? Afraid you may get injured? Spend additional time getting ready for what scares you. 

Concern is likely one of the most typical causes folks don’t go into the backcountry. However with the proper planning and preparation, Mikaela doesn’t suppose concern ought to maintain you again. “I’m afraid of loads of issues within the backcountry,” she tells me with fun. Mikaela is very afraid of the darkish however mitigates that concern by packing a vivid flashlight with additional batteries so she doesn’t have to fret about leaving the tent at night time to make use of the lavatory. She additionally downloads music, podcasts, audiobooks and even an episode of a comedy on Netflix so she will throw on headphones and distract herself if she will get nervous in the midst of the night time. 

For those who’re afraid of animals, analysis frequent animal encounters within the park and maybe decide a park nearer to a metropolis with much less wildlife. It’s also possible to put together your self with a bear canister and bear spray (and you need to at all times comply with native guidelines surrounding meals storage). For those who’re nervous about navigating within the wilderness choose a route with well-marked trails. For those who’re nervous about being injured, take a primary support course. 

“It’s most likely not as scary as you suppose it’s going to be, however when you don’t like [the trip] you possibly can at all times bail.” Mikaela herself has finished it—she as soon as began a visit and wasn’t feeling it, so rotated and automotive camped as a substitute. Nevertheless it’s a uncommon prevalence for her. Regardless of her fears, Mikaela enjoys her journeys and is at all times in search of new methods to get outdoors.

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For those who’re feeling able to plan a backcountry journey, remember to take a look at Mikaela’s web site, Voyageur Tripper, for journey studies and details about staying secure and having enjoyable within the backcountry. 

Featured picture by Mikaela Ferguson