Hiking as teenagers

7:16 p.m. on July 15, 2011 (EDT)
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Did any of you hike alone as teenagers?? Any good experiences??

9:10 p.m. on July 15, 2011 (EDT)
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Some of best memories growing up, both as a teen and before, were hiking and exploring the 800 acres of woods and ridges near my our house without parents or adults. As I got into my upper teens I went on a couple weekend trips by myself. They were amazing growing experiences. I spent a week in a wilderness area when I was nineteen. I went in prepared with outdoor knowledge and experience from trekking with my family and friends, but only having myself to rely upon for that length of time was powerful. It made me think more responsibly while realizing a sense of independence, possibility, and self awareness.

Whether such an experience depends of a myriad of factors. The largest questions I have are:

How old is the teenager?

How much outdoor experience so they have?

How responsible are they? (try to quantify that)

Where are they looking to hike?

How long and extensive is the trip: is it a short hike in a local park? A Day hike in a state park? A multi-day backpacking trip in the mountains or remote wilderness? 

I know a 14 year old who I would not think twice about seeing head off on a long weekend by himself, and then there are grown men I think shouldn't venture out further than a city park.

10:38 p.m. on July 15, 2011 (EDT)
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I hiked in college by myself when I was 18. It was in the Ouachita Mountain near Poteau Oklahome. I hiked Mount Cavanaugh, a peak labeled as worlds tallest hill as it lacked 1 foot of being a mountain. That was in the early 1970's.

I also hike around Hamilton Lake outside Hot Springs Arkansas while in the Job Corps. I was 17.

Both areas were very nice for my first hikes on my own. I hitchhiked 8000 miles around the USA at age 21 in 1977 and backpacked alone in Denali Nat Park in Alaska between 1977-79 during the summers.

I began to enjoy hiking alone as I rarely found anyone to go with me as most others had to work to pay their bills, just as most people do no.

At 55 now I still primarily hike alone.

10:47 p.m. on July 15, 2011 (EDT)
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Mine ?

Similar (the early teenage years, possibly 11 or 12?).

Then, when 17, began serious hiking on the AT (Tennessee and North Carolina) with a buddy that was an Eagle Scout.   I was an experienced Boy Scout; but not an "Eagle"-rating.

John (the Eagle Scout) really knew his stuff, and had been solo hiking for years.  He was pleased to have me aboard.

He DID teach me a few things I wish he had not ... like chewing tobacco.   I recall him stating why it was a good idea ... but, I can't recall exactly why.

He was confident and fearless.   The Park Service people knew him, and let us go where others were prohibited.   And WHEN.   Like, in Winter.   With his guidance and advice, I don't ever recall being cold or uncomfortable ... except maybe, when we were briefly stuck on Mt. Mitchell with an overnight snow of about a foot or two.   Happened again on Klingman's Dome.   But, he knew what to do.   Back then, we didn't have anything like "Campsuds" or "Dr. Bronner's".   Had to scour the frying pan with cold water and sand, from a running creek.  (We made "cowboy coffee").

Been "hooked" ever since.    God Bless John.



11:13 a.m. on July 18, 2011 (EDT)
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Started backpacking when I was 12 with cotton army-reject everything and K-mart boots.

When I was 15, a friend and I hiked the PCT from Stevens to Snoqualmie pass, just the two of us, in 10 days. 

The next year I was 16 and did it solo in seven days.

Only one person asked how old we were and threw a fit when we told her our ages.  She told us we had no business hiknig solo until we were at least 18.  I think we told her to P#$% off.

12:09 p.m. on July 18, 2011 (EDT)
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I ran all through the woods as a kid, when I was 14 or so I started camping with friends in the woods.

We lived a few miles from a large Army surplus store and we thought that was where you bought camping and backpacking stuff, except the tent, that was the nicest 2 man, two pole A-frame tent Kmart sold. It cost about twenty dollars and I had to mow 2 yards to pay for it.

The tent fabric was orange and I remember how cool it looked from inside the tent right beside the fire. It almost glowed. We were dumb.

12:57 p.m. on July 18, 2011 (EDT)
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late teens, after several years hiking with my dad.  took a number of winter and summer trips with college friends, and i started guiding younger kids on hikes around the same time. 

only 'bad' experiences were a new year's day trip up mount washington - got whited out, had to take our time getting down.  also ended up with pretty cold feet once due to ill-fitting boots on a winter trip.  i chalk those up to 'live and learn.'

8:02 p.m. on July 18, 2011 (EDT)
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ran up and down the "hollers" growing up.  started camping with friends in my teens.  Didn't know backpacking was called backpacking, everything was goin camping.

One time, around the age of 14, my buddy and i were out camping and the weather took a turn.  we headed back but decided instead of going inside we would wait out the rest of the night in my grandmothers shed.  we didn't tell anyone that we had come back and just went into the shed.  about 2 am we were hanging out and talkin around a small  fire we had built in an old washtub when the door flew open and we got beat to death by the bristle end of my grandmother's broom.  she had heard us laughin and saw light and movement between the slat boards and thought it was time to defend her property.  she swooped in like a senior citizen ninja.  we never lived down how two teens were bested by a 65 yr-old woman and a broom.

8:42 p.m. on July 18, 2011 (EDT)
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In scouts the adults who accompanied us hiking were low profile, there primarily to acquiesce any parents' concern about supervision.  Adults significant contribution usually was transportation; otherwise the more experienced scouts basically managed all planning and on trail aspects of the trips.  Later I hiked throughout the Sierras with friends, usually without adults in the group.


6:15 p.m. on July 20, 2011 (EDT)
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Did most of my hiking with the scouts or my dad.  I only went on 2 or 3 overnights by myself when I was 15 or 16.  Those were not very far, maybe 5 & 10 miles from the house.  The woods were across the street & went for 15 miles.  We could day hike all we wanted in the summer.

Trout I think we had the same surplus camp gear, except I had the shelter half for a tent.  Young & too much energy to burn.  I don't remember that stuff being heavy.

June 25, 2018
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