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First Time Solo - How to tell the Wife

5:07 p.m. on July 7, 2008 (EDT)
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Quick background, I've been overnight backpacking for over eighteen years. Hiked a number of 5+ trips, including three over 50 miles. I've solo hunted for the last two years. However those hunts have always been hunts where I have driven up and driven back in the same day. (Lucky to live so close to the backcountry).

The problem: In the past I have gone backpacking with my brothers and dad (and occasionally my mother and sisters). Due to work I have now moved across the state. Due to my work and family schedule I have one weekend this year that I can actually guarantee being able to backpack into somewhere. That happens to be this weekend, and all of my usually hiking companies are unable to go. I have tried to russell up a companion, and the kids prevent my wife from coming (three kids under five).

I want to go on this trip. I have a plan, cell, map, and the weather looks fine. Its a short hike (2.5 miles in, 2.5 out same way), the trail head is 15 miles out from a descent (for Idaho) sized town. The question is: how do I convince my wife that it is okay for me to go solo.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

5:22 p.m. on July 7, 2008 (EDT)
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What has she said about your backpacking in the past? Yes, you had companions, but is she comfortable with your level of experience? Did she go backpacking with you before the kids came along? Have you said anything to her about the idea of a solo or this specific trip? Do you and your wife take the kids camping (there have been a number of discussions on this site about when to take the kids camping - my parents were taking me by the time I was 6 months, we had our son snow camping by the time he was 3 years and lots of other camping, including backpacking by 1 year old, Papa carrying him and gear on my back, though only a couple miles in).

Seems to me the hunting day trips are far more dangerous than a solo backpack (having had a couple of projectiles whiz past me), especially one as short as 2.5 miles each way. Day trips often mean driving home fatigued, which boosts the probability of a car accident.

It would have been best to have taken the whole family car camping at least before springing the solo trip idea.

6:03 p.m. on July 7, 2008 (EDT)
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My advice, as a woman who loves to backpack alone, would be simply to ask your wife if she's comfortable with your going alone, and if not, why not. If you can set her mind at ease, she will likely be okay with it. And if she's still against it, you'll have to decide whether you really want to go this weekend... and have an unhappy spouse when you get back home!

7:24 p.m. on July 7, 2008 (EDT)
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Hi Haydon 5, I have been going on solo trips for some time now, mostly during the winter as my friends don't like to go then. I am also married and have two kids (now grown), so I can relate to your situation.
Sounds to me like you have a good bit of experience backpacking, and as a hunter you probably pay close attention to what is going on around you, and keep safety a priority.
Going solo has made me a better planner, and forced me to keep safety in mind at all times, while still having a blast.
I'm assuming that you may expect some concern on your wifes part, since you are inquiring about how to ask her.
You, of course, know your wife better than any of us, but there are two main issues I had to deal with when my kids were young and I wanted to go solo.

The first was my family worrying about me. I found three areas I could camp in which had service to my mobile phone, and I would call home twice a day to let them know I was ok.
I also took a couple first aid/first responder courses which really boosted my skill level and helped put my wife at ease. I talked with her and reassured her that I would keep safety paramount.
The second, was my wife feeling "left behind". As Bill S. mentioned, I found that if I took my family car camping, or we spent a day at the zoo,(me and the kids, to give my wife a break) or something like that the week before, my wife and I both felt better about my trip. It was very important to us that she got to do something too!

I don't know how much that helps since you want to go this weekend, but I would argue that going solo is no more dangerous than going with a group, (maybe less so in some instances) assuming you are just talking about general backcountry travel. The only real risk you face is becoming injured severely enough that you are immobile for some reason, and cannot get yourself out of the woods. You need to develop a contingency plan for that anyway, with or without a group!

On another note my two kids were backpacking as soon as they were old enough to follow instructions and carry a small pack. We had great fun! You have to decide for yourself when they are ready, but don't miss out on starting them young! My daughter (18 now) can both, bake cookies, and catch frogs just to see what species it is. A weaker man would shed a tear at the sight of that. HA-HA

Good luck to you and your family!

9:15 p.m. on July 7, 2008 (EDT)
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I should add that the only problem I have with Barb about my going on solo trips and expeditions is that she is eager to go, too. My last Alaska trip (where we got up close and personal with the big furry guys) and the Africa trip last December were with her, and a lot of the activities to fill her dreams - getting to take photos at close range of the Alaskan Brown Bears (aka "grizzlies") and photographing lots of African wildlife on the Serengeti and in Ngorongoro Crater. She is planning a trip to hike up Kilimanjaro when her knee recovers from the operation, plus Mt Cook in New Zealand (she went to NZ with our son and without me, when I couldn't go because I was off to Antarctica).

So, as Nlees and trouthunter said, check to see if your wife is feeling tied down, taking care of the kids. Ya gotta take your turn taking care of the kids, too, ya know. After all they are your responsibility, too. Maybe she wants to go solo hunting, or maybe a women-only backpacking trip.

10:44 a.m. on July 8, 2008 (EDT)
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Thanks for the input.

My family (wife +kids) is no stranger to camping. I introduced my wife to backpacking, she'd never gone before she met me, though she'd wanted to. We've gone care camping a number of times and have done short hikes as a family. I believe she is confident in my abilities, its the "go it alone" that worries her I believe.

I would take the kids, but there are three of them, and there is no way that I can carry everything for five people as two of the kids are two small to walk the trail on their own and my wife or I would have to carry them.

I think the biggest disconnect is that she grew up in the downtown area of a big city and I did not. Our levels of perceived risk are a bit different. Thanks for the suggestions, (the one about giving her time to herself is golden, and as usual one I had not considered :) ).

April 19, 2014
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