Bruce Trail Hike #7 – Facing My Fears of Hiking Alone

Bruce Trail Hike #7 - Facing My Fears of Hiking Alone

Follow along on my Bruce Trail hikes! I’m slowly hiking this entire trail – all 900km of it. It runs from north to south, right across southern Ontario, Canada.

I really wanted to go hiking on Thanksgiving weekend (that’s in October in Canada!). The only problem was that everyone was pretty busy. Justin was working, my sister was with her boyfriend’s family for the holiday, and my friends were either working or had family gatherings. I was determined to go hiking that day. After all, it was a gorgeous fall day and the leaves had just started to change color. I wasn’t sure when I’d get out for another hike this season, and it’s really my favorite time of year for spending time on the trails. I didn’t want to let this opportunity pass by.

I decided to hike alone, even though I was a little scared.

 

Bruce Trail Hike #7 - Facing My Fears of Hiking Alone

FEARS OF HIKING ALONE

As a solo female hiker, I had some legitimate fears of hiking alone. I’m not sure if I’ve watched too many episodes of Dateline, but I was scared that someone could attack me in the forest. Adding insult to injury, Justin mentioned that people like to dress up as clowns to frighten people in random places. Great. Now, I didn’t only have to worry about getting assaulted, but had the additional fear of being stalked by a clown.

I was also worried that I might injure myself. Though I’m physically active, I can be clumsy at times. Do you remember that time that I slipped and fell on a muddy path in the forest? Yeah, that happened. Though I didn’t get hurt, there’s always the fear that I could twist an ankle or hurt myself.

Though it’s not too much of a concern in the St. Catharines region, I could potentially run into some wildlife. In the northern sections of the Bruce Trail, finding bears on the hiking trail is a concern.

Bruce Trail Hike #7 - Facing My Fears of Hiking Alone

COMMUNITY SUPPORT

I’m a member of the Bruce Trail Facebook group, and I asked them for help. I wanted to know if others felt it was safe to hike alone, and if any other women hiked the Bruce Trail by themselves. Thankfully, I was met with an outpouring of support. Many women regularly hike there by themselves or walk their dogs. Some hikers never see another person on the trails at all while they’re out there. There’s even a woman recently who hiked the entire trail by herself in one go, from end to end.

I also had women asking if I wanted a hiking buddy. These groups are great for meeting friends and those with similar interests. I met travel blogging buddies Stephanie and Lindsay through Facebook groups, and we love hiking together!

Bruce Trail Hike #7 - Facing My Fears of Hiking Alone

PICKING UP WHERE I LEFT OFF

At the end of my last Bruce Trail Hike, I stopped at the entrance to Short Hills Provincial Park. This was where I started my seventh Bruce Trail hike. I like to start and stop where it’s easy to park my car. There was a small parking lot at the entrance here on Wiley Road, just before kilometer 36 on Bruce Trail Map 3 (from the Bruce Trail hiking guide book).

For those wondering how I hike the Bruce Trail, I park my car where I left off the last time. I end up hiking the trail twice because I have to hike on the same stretch back to the car. It isn’t an ideal situation because it does take a lot longer to complete the entire trail, end to end. However, I love hiking and I don’t mind hiking there and back each time.

If you don’t feel like trekking back and forth, you can walk with a buddy and bring two cars. Park your cars at either side of the trail section. You can also consider calling an Uber to take you back to your car, though the availability might be limited to certain areas. If you’ve never used Uber before, you can use my sign up code: laureny838ue to get a free ride!

Bruce Trail Hike #7 - Facing My Fears of Hiking Alone

HIKING BY MYSELF

So, how was my experience?

It was fantastic!

I loved the solitude of hiking alone. Usually, I’m pretty chatty if I’m with friends or family. This time, I looked around at the beautiful scenery without saying a word. I caught glimpses of small squirrels and chipmunks in the silence. The leaves rustled in the breeze. Tall trees creaked back and forth. I gained a new appreciation for the Bruce Trail when hiking by myself. The only time I spoke was to say hello to fellow hikers that passed by.

As it was Thanksgiving Sunday, the trail was a little more popular than usual. Even still, I only saw a few families, couples, and dog walkers in Short Hills Provincial Park. For the most part, I was alone and I didn’t feel afraid. It was actually very liberating.

Bruce Trail Hike #7 - Facing My Fears of Hiking Alone

RIM OF AFRICA FRIENDSHIP TRAIL

In Short Hills Provincial Park, a section of the Bruce Trail has been dubbed, the Rim of Africa Friendship Trail. This trail was twinned with the Rim of Africa trail back in 2014. From the Bruce Trail website:

The Rim of Africa is a unique mountain trail and conservation initiative at the southern edge of Africa in the Cape Mountains. These mountains form the core of the Cape Floristic Region, the smallest of the six recognized floral kingdoms of the world. They are home to more than 9 000 plant species, the greatest non-tropical concentration of higher plant species in the world.

The entire Rim of Africa trail takes 52 days to complete, and ranges from easier terrain to more difficult mountain hiking. It fueled my wanderlust to travel back to Africa as I’d love to discover the Rim of Africa trail in person. As I hiked the Rim of Africa Friendship Trail on my Bruce Trail hike, I thought about what it would be like to hike the Cape Mountains.

Bruce Trail Hike #7 - Facing My Fears of Hiking Alone

FALL COLORS IN OCTOBER

October is the best time to go hiking in southern Ontario, Canada. It isn’t too hot and it isn’t too cold. I wore a t-shirt, bringing a sweater just in case it got chillier. In the summer, it can be unbearably hot to do anything outside, except maybe swimming. Plus, the main advantage is to enjoy the fall colors. During the second weekend in October, the leaves had started to turn vibrant shades of red, yellow, and orange. There were still lots of green leaves on the trees. In the most southern parts of Ontario, like where I was hiking near St. Catharines, it might be worth waiting until even the third weekend of October for the best fall colors. As you travel more north in Ontario, you could miss out on the best colors if you waited that long.

The sun was shining and the trees looked gorgeous. Here are some of my favorite photos from my Bruce Trail hike.

Bruce Trail Hike #7 - Facing My Fears of Hiking Alone

Bruce Trail Hike #7 - Facing My Fears of Hiking Alone

Bruce Trail Hike #7 - Facing My Fears of Hiking Alone

Bruce Trail Hike #7 - Facing My Fears of Hiking Alone

Bruce Trail Hike #7 - Facing My Fears of Hiking Alone

Bruce Trail Hike #7 - Facing My Fears of Hiking Alone

Bruce Trail Hike #7 - Facing My Fears of Hiking Alone

Bruce Trail Hike #7 - Facing My Fears of Hiking Alone

Bruce Trail Hike #7 - Facing My Fears of Hiking Alone

Bruce Trail Hike #7 - Facing My Fears of Hiking Alone

Bruce Trail Hike #7 - Facing My Fears of Hiking Alone

Bruce Trail Hike #7 - Facing My Fears of Hiking Alone

Here’s the section of trail that I hiked on the Bruce Trail guide map (Map 03):

Bruce Trail Hike #7 - Facing My Fears of Hiking Alone

TIPS FOR HIKING ALONE

Here are some great tips for hiking alone, especially as a solo female hiker:

  • Tell a loved one where you are going and what time you should return
  • It’s good to keep in touch with loved ones when you have cell service
  • Be sensible – don’t go wandering too far off the path
  • Bring a map when you can so you don’t get lost, and follow the trail markers
  • Wear appropriate shoes and clothing for your hike (sturdy hiking shoe are always a good idea)
  • Carry a bear bell on your bag in areas with bears to keep them away
  • Bring lots of water and snacks for your hiking trip
  • Consider bringing a small first aid kit, flashlight, and rain poncho

If you don’t want to travel alone and don’t have a hiking buddy, consider joining an organized hike! The Bruce Trail clubs organize trips weekly. Check out brucetrail.org for more details.

To see all the photos from this hike, please visit my Bruce Trail Hike #7 travel photography album. Not only can you view my photographs, but you can also order prints, canvas wall hangings, and housewares made from these photos! It’s the perfect gift for that travel lover in your life!

 

PROGRESS OF MY BRUCE TRAIL JOURNEY

Hike # 7
Date October 9, 2016
Location Map 03, Thorold
Distance 5km (x2 = 10km)
Total Trail Distance 40 km (854km remaining)
Start 35.0 Short Hills Provincial Park parking lot
Finish 40.0 Short Hills Provincial Park

 

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Bruce Trail Hike #7 - Facing My Fears of Hiking Alone

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Do you go hiking alone? Do you have any great tips?

Lauren
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Lauren is one half of "Justin Plus Lauren". She loves to travel, take photos, and write all about it! Lauren eats a plant-based diet and seeks out yummy vegan food on her travels. She loves nature, animals, outdoor adventures, coffee, and her cats, Chickpea and Peanut.

13 Responses

  1. Cathy
    | Reply

    Good for you hiking solo. It is intimidating as a woman. Before Frank I had hiked alone at times, it is nice and I appreciated my surroundings more. On trails that are used often I feel more comfortable going solo in case something happens. Much more likely to run into wildlife when alone too:)
    Cathy recently posted…Norway as Seen by a Professional Downhill SkateboarderMy Profile

  2. Kerri
    | Reply

    Gosh when I read that I thought you were doing all 900km by yourself ! Good o you for doing this, but also for being sensible about it. There are no heroes (in my opinion) in these types of scenarios for wanting to do it by yourself, or with others, and being unprepared. I see too many people in Australia just head off into the bush thinking they’ll be right, they get lost, have no equipment, food, or protective clothing with them, and then expect the authorities to risk their lives to find them. You have outlined some wonderful steps here to keep you safe. Well done, loved the photos of the area you hiked in.
    Kerri recently posted…14 unusual dining experiences around the worldMy Profile

  3. Vicki Louise
    | Reply

    Congrats on facing your fears/anxiety and getting out there to hike alone. I think I would really enjoy the sound of silence, listening to the world around me as I make my way through nature. You’ve inspired me to go out alone on my next hike!
    Vicki Louise recently posted…Best Places To Eat in Victoria FallsMy Profile

  4. Karla
    | Reply

    Kudos for you for doing this! I’m glad you conquered your fears. Now, you know you can do this again. I also really loved hiking around Canada. I did the west coast though.

  5. Stephanie
    | Reply

    So happy to hear you enjoyed your solo hike! I still remember my first solo hike and strangely enough it was also on Thanksgiving a few years ago. Great tips for solo hiking. I’d also add – allow all your senses to be open. You’ll soak in the experience, your surroundings and be aware of any change.
    Stephanie recently posted…On the Hunt for Dracula in RomaniaMy Profile

  6. Marlene Marques
    | Reply

    Congratulation for facing and conquering your fears! It was so nice to read about your adventure. I love to do activities on my own. As you said, we have more time to concentrate on the path, go on our own rhythm, enjoy more the surroundings and clear our mind. 🙂

  7. Toni Broome
    | Reply

    I haven’t been hiking by myself but I really should. In Australia I don’t think I’d be worried about the people (or clowns) but it is useful to have another person to help remove a tick in an awkward position or stop me freaking out while waiting for a leech to fall off … and then there’s the snakes … we do seem to see a lot of them especially now coming into summer
    Toni Broome recently posted…Wild Kangaroos on the Gold CoastMy Profile

  8. Anita Hendrieka
    | Reply

    Does solo hiking count if I take my dog? If so I love hiking! Good on you for doing it alone, it’s great to do something for yourself and have some ‘you time’.

  9. Jenna
    | Reply

    I love that you have a goal to complete the entire trail–what a fun adventure! Glad you still got to get out and hike and it’s great that you still had a good time going by yourself! Congrats on getting out there, facing a fear and completing another section of the hike! Love the fall colors too–looks like such a gorgeous area!
    Jenna recently posted…Creating Art at the Corning Museum of GlassMy Profile

  10. christina
    | Reply

    Canada has some fantastic hiking trails and Ontario is a province that is often overlooked. Fall is especially beautiful. Weren’t you afraid of coming across a bear?
    christina recently posted…Camping in Canada | Parks Canada Quirky AccommodationMy Profile

  11. anto
    | Reply

    I love hiking alone but it can also be a bit scary at times. In Alaska I was terrified of running into bears (luckily I didn’t) but it didn’t keep me from going, even though I knew there was a reasonable chance to run into them. Another fear is getting injured and not being able to help myself to safety. I always leave a plan with a friend and tell them I’ll get in touch once back home, it’s one thing every solo hiker should do, whether male or female. I’m happy to you took the step to do it, solo hiking is a really rewarding experience!

  12. Indrani
    | Reply

    You are really brave! I have never gone hiking alone, but may be I can give it a try.
    Thanks for the helpful tips to do it.

  13. Sherman
    | Reply

    I can’t believe you went hiking alone. I have never done that. I fear staying alone even in the house (alone=my cat absent too) . i know my neighborhood is quite safe but the silence just kills me. I think you are really brave to have done that alone, and Ontario looks amazing. Canada is definitely on my bucket list.
    Sherman recently posted…Garmin Echo 550c Fishfinder ReviewMy Profile

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