While on my most recent road trip I was posed with an interesting question. I was talking to a couple of people and explaining all the places I had been to on my trip and a lady asked me, “You are doing all of this alone?”
I hike alone most of the time and take a lot of road trips by myself. Honestly, I have never actually thought about doing things alone. I touched on this in one of my earlier posts, Hiking alone not Lonely Hiking. The way she seemed surprised, surprised me.
I started to reflect on the long drive back to Colorado because, after all, I was alone in the car. What I thought of was not missing out because I don’t have a travel partner and the amazing people I met along the way.
Disclaimer: I am terrible with names so please forgive me if I get a name wrong!
The Little Moments
The first person I met on this trip was during my first hike. I was in Carbondale, Colorado and met a woman named Virginia who was taking a hike during her lunch break. She was kind enough to slow her pace down and talk with me. She was excited about my trip and was giving me advice on what to see and where to go. I am pretty sure that I made her late back to work! I was a little hesitant on my first trip to Utah and I didn’t know anything about it or western Colorado for that matter and Virginia put my mind at ease and helped me have a great trip.
The next two I never even got names. The first gentleman at Arches had been there before and was giving a small group of us who had congregated advice on the hikes. He told me exactly what to expect on the trails moving forward. I then ran into him 3 or 4 more times. He kept popping up right as I was approaching a challenging spot and giving encouragement.
Next was the fella who grabbed my hand and pulled me across a water hazard at Arches as throngs of onlookers wondered if I would get across. In fact, all of the onlookers were offering advice and support. I never saw him again. He just reached out a hand, pulled me up and vanished.
The young couple from Peoria. This was the role reversal as now they were asking my advice on the Devil’s Garden since I had done it earlier. The advice I received I was now passing on to the next group of explorers.
And finally the woman who said she had heard of my website and had read it before. I met her at Arches then saw her again at Canyonlands and still couldn’t believe that I met someone in Utah who had heard of my site. I mean…The Fatman is immensely popular!
The Long Haulers
While hiking at Arches I met Patty, Gary and their two sons. We ended up hiking for about 4 miles together and had some great conversations. They had been coming to Utah for a few years and had great advice on where to go and what to try next. They told me where the food was in town and told me that I HAD to do Delicate Arch before I left. I did and it was amazing. Thank you Patty and Gary!
I met Joseph at Capitol Reef. We both randomly stopped at Grand Wash for a quick hike and ended up doing the whole trail together. We talked about baseball and compared how hiking near his home in Northern Utah was so similar to hiking by my home near Denver. He told me a couple of hikes to try while I was on my trip and I did them and they were great.
The Chance Encounters
While waiting for the sun to rise at Mesa Arch, a couple stood next to me. The man pulled out an old style box film crank camera. It only shot in black and white and it was one of the coolest things I had seen. Sitting next to thousands of dollars worth of high end digital camera’s I was fascinated by the young guy taking pictures with old film camera.
I met Kari while we were both sitting down and taking a rest at the base of the Navajo trail. Kari turns out to be doing exactly what I am trying to do with hiking and travel based media. She gave me some great advice and encouragement.
Mike was at the Mesa Arch Sunrise as well and we were both traveling solo. We were able to help each other with a picture so we weren’t limited to an arms length selfie at such an expansive sunrise setting.
Nola and her husband were a series of chance encounters. We ran into each other at Arches in passing and then 4 days later, Nola recognized me at Bryce Canyon. We got to talking and it turns out that we basically did the same trip. I was just about a half day ahead of them. Turned out we are all from Colorado and had a lovely chat while we finished the hike.
Never Alone With Friends You Haven’t Met Yet
So as I was reminiscing about my trip and the question posed by the woman about traveling alone I thought of all the cool people I met. Some in passing moments and some for an hours of great conversation.
I know it is easier for a man to travel alone and I am not saying it is for everyone. People should do what is comfortable for them. The 3-7 hour stretches in the car can be tough. But the hiking and outdoor community is such a nice and engaging community. Everyone is quick to lend a helping hand, or take a picture. We offer advice on which trails to take, or sometimes just talk about if there should be a DH in the National League.
As I pulled back home at the end of the trip I realized that each hike and experience just opens the possibility to see new things and meet new people. And you are never alone with friends around that you just haven’t met yet.
More from the Fatman
If you enjoyed this post you may enjoy more of my Fatman’s Ramblings. Such literary masterpieces as “Screw it, I’m Trying“, “To Pee or not To Pee“, and “The Hiking Seasons” await you there. If you have any questions or comments feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow me on any of the below social media platforms. Happy Hiking!