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Ottakee

Outdoor recreation alone....yes or no?

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Do you participate in outdoor recreation alone?  Things like walking, hiking, biking, kayaking, running, skating, etc.

I never really did.  I always went with a friend or family member but I don't always have someone to go with me....so now I am going alone at times.

I still prefer to go with someone but I also don't want to stay home just because I don't have anyone to join me.

Taking a walk in the neighborhood or a bike ride down the bike path....those are more in my comfort zone for solo activities.

This week though I went kayaking alone (my son and his friend were on jet skis so they knew where I was and could check on me).  Last Saturday and again today I did short 2-3 mile solo hikes.  Those make me more nervous....but I am old and fat and hard to kidnap.

Anyone else go solo? Pictures are from my hike this evening.

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I hike on my own whenever my husband is out of town, and I have also camped on my own. Can't wait to go on another solo trip soon.
The only time I was concerned was when I hiked in zero F weather in a sparsely visited area; I made sure to have extra clothing and hot tea, in case of accident. But generally I am not worried about hiking solo. Certainly not about being kidnapped; the probability is minuscule.
I haven't done a solo wilderness backpack; that would be outside my comfort zone because of the possibility of injury/getting lost. For now.

Edited by regentrude
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I like to go alone, I just wish I felt safer doing it. I like being able to go at my own pace and to be able to pray aloud at a conversational level without turning heads. 

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16 minutes ago, Seasider too said:

I like to go alone, I just wish I felt safer doing it. I like being able to go at my own pace and to be able to pray aloud at a conversational level without turning heads. 

It is the safety thing.  I live in a safe area.  Crimes against strangers are very very rare.  I worry more about falling, twisting an ankle, tipping over, etc.

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47 minutes ago, regentrude said:

I hike on my own whenever my husband is out of town, and I have also camped on my own. Can't wait to go on another solo trip soon.
The only time I was concerned was when I hiked in zero F weather in a sparsely visited area; I made sure to have extra clothing and hot tea, in case of accident. But generally I am not worried about hiking solo. Certainly not about being kidnapped; the probability is minuscule.
I haven't done a solo wilderness backpack; that would be outside my comfort zone because of the possibility of injury/getting lost. For now.

Where did you camp alone?  Campground?  Back country site?  I might like to try that but get nervous about being alone if anyone sketchy were around 

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1 minute ago, Ottakee said:

It is the safety thing.  I live in a safe area.  Crimes against strangers are very very rare.  I worry more about falling, twisting an ankle, tipping over, etc.

That is understandable. Last year I joined a gym because I was afraid I’d fall off the treadmill when I was home alone. Now I’m not alone but I don’t like cheerleaders, either. 😂

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3 minutes ago, Ottakee said:

Where did you camp alone?  Campground?  Back country site?  I might like to try that but get nervous about being alone if anyone sketchy were around 

It was in a campground, but I was the only person there (everybody had left because of the weather change the day before) except for the camp host. I'd like to camp in the back country next. The further away from the trailhead, the safer. But summer here means ticks and poison ivy.

Edited by regentrude
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I doubt I will ever feel comfortable being alone in the woods or out of line-of-sight of a lot of people.  I can walk all day alone, on the beach, in neighborhoods, in parks where if I twist an ankle (I could use a phone so I admit it is a tad neurotic).  But where there's no cell coverage?  Nope.  Maybe if I had a big dog, I would.

 

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I do.  I'll hike alone, camp alone (in a campground) and canoe alone.  Hiking usually provincial parks on marked trails, or on municipal trails (rural municipality).  Camping in campgrounds - there are always other people around.  Canoeing in provincial parks, or on the lake near home.  Family always knows where I'm going and when I expect to be back.

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5 minutes ago, Patty Joanna said:

I doubt I will ever feel comfortable being alone in the woods or out of line-of-sight of a lot of people.  I can walk all day alone, on the beach, in neighborhoods, in parks where if I twist an ankle (I could use a phone so I admit it is a tad neurotic).  But where there's no cell coverage?  Nope.  Maybe if I had a big dog, I would.

The dog's not going to help with a twisted ankle, will it?

I think accidents that immobilize me to a degree that I cannot crawl out are very unlikely to occur in normal terrain on hiking trails. I would be more concerned if I were in difficult terrain with class 3 scrambling. But if you wanted to hike in very remote areas, you could get a satellite communication system like InReach.

Edited by regentrude
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1 minute ago, regentrude said:

The dog's not going to help with a twisted ankle, will it?

I think accidents that immobilize me to a degree that I cannot crawl out are very unlikely to occur in normal terrain on hiking trails. I would be more concerned if I were in difficult terrain with class 3 scrambling. But if you wanted to hike in very remote areas, you could get a satellite communication system like InReach.

Yeah, I sort of didn't complete my thought there when I was editing my first screed.  Ugh.  What I meant to say was this:  If I were alone in the woods, I would actually feel ok with a dog for safety but that still leaves open the twisted ankle scenario.  I walk alone for at least an hour every day, sometimes more, in neighborhoods, parks, beaches etc., where I have a)line-of-sight visibility and b)cellphone access.  

:0)

 

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7 minutes ago, Patty Joanna said:

I doubt I will ever feel comfortable being alone in the woods or out of line-of-sight of a lot of people.  I can walk all day alone, on the beach, in neighborhoods, in parks where if I twist an ankle (I could use a phone so I admit it is a tad neurotic).  But where there's no cell coverage?  Nope.  Maybe if I had a big dog, I would.

 

I'll happily hike without a cell phone.  I've been hiking/canoeing/camping alone since before cell phones were common, and still do in areas without coverage.  I always bring a compass and a whistle.  (and a map if I'm somewhere I don't know well)

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Not in this instance because I would not feel safe.

I've done a lot of things in my life all alone. Taking a flight across continents, moving to a new country, living, drives, travel, eating, going to the movies all these I have and am very comfortable doing things alone. I can also navigate very well in an unknown city, from subway routes to going places even if I did not know the language. Just give me a map, not even google. This is very much so because I am an urban person. I did not know that about myself till I came here.

I need to see sunlight, hear sounds constantly and be around people even strangers to feel safe. Not perfect silence or an occasional sound. I am not even factoring injury or stranger danger here.  Something like your picture shows with a canopy of trees, barely any sunlight, no proper path would freak me out if I was alone. The occasional snapping of a twig, rustling of leaves would possibly create a panic attack in me. The only times I've been in places like these is in a national park situation with a tiger possibly nearby, but I was in a closed vehicle with people or on a back of an elephant again with people. I was able to enjoy and participate in it.  This is also a reason country acreage freaks me out. 

We all define what is safe to us. So decide what is safe to you without considering dangers like strangers and injury is what I would suggest. 

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I do lot's of things by myself and I'm fine with it and even love it, but walking alone in isolated areas makes me nervous.  i'm only 5'1" so almost everyone is bigger than me.  I'm acutly aware of that when I'm alone.  

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@Ottakee very beautiful and restful seeming pictures!

 

 I walk with a dog.  My current dog is too small to be much help with a twisted ankle, but in past I had dogs big and strong enough to be more help and felt braver about rougher terrain. 

If I don’t have anyone to talk with I tend to play an audiobook or similar because human voices are supposed to discourage cougars and bears from approaching. 

 

My son has enjoyed hiding and jumping out at me to frighten me, so I am aware of how easy it is for someone to hide, but I expect our dog would be more interested if someone other than his own boy was lurking.   The dog tends to bark or alert at anything out of the ordinary.  

Also our dogs have known “find mom” etc so from before cellphones and still now could help with an ankle even if not up to giving some balance aid. “Find stick” also potentially useful. 

Edited by Pen

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I hike and would camp alone. If I had a kayak, I could see using it someone else was nearby like your son on the jet ski. 
 

Thank you for the pictures, I love your state very much.

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I'm not afraid of people, but I am DEFINITELY afraid of the bears.....

So, no, I don't hike alone.

Anne

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I hike regularly on my own. Husband can see my location on Google maps in case of accident. I'm wary of open water - I swim with others or where there is a life guard.

Eta no dangerous wild animals here.

Edited by Laura Corin
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My Great Dane is normally with me, but, yes, daily. Yesterday a small black bear popped his head up about 10 feet from us 🙂

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Edited by GoodGrief1
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I do sometimes hike alone, but it does make me nervous. 

No swimming or kayaking or canoeing alone in the wilderness for me - unless there are many other people and preferably a lifeguard nearby. First rule of water safety, never swim alone. 

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It is drilled into me to always have a buddy. 12 years of Girl Scouts and 14+ years of traditional schooling. Plus firefighters and EMTs in the house who live/work by the principle of 2s.

When my kids were real little, I had a lot of anxiety around Dh traveling for work, worried about something happening to me without another capable person around.

I’ve honestly never even considered going out in nature alone.  Which isn’t to say no one should ever do it, just that it hasn’t ever been on my radar. Unless you count sitting in my backyard, lol.

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Not in very remote areas. But green ways and park trails, even if there's only a very small number of people around -- yes. But I always have a dog with me. Mine are small and so almost no protection (not something I generally worry about anyway), but they're fabulous company! I love walking my dogs.

I wouldn't do anything water related alone.

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I often walk and hike by myself. I shouldn't, being a Scout, but there isn't always someone to go with me. When the bears are hanging out, or when the lion has been spotted down from Fossil Ridge, I don't go up the canyon. 

I've done a lot of solo camping, but I no longer backpack at all. 0

Edited by Margaret in CO
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I like to walk alone but I really wish I still had a dog for this. I love to kayak alone, though I don’t do it often; I can do it when we’re at the beach house. 

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Several issues have been brought up.

First....fear of getting hurt.  I am plus sized, almost 50 and have never been graceful or coordinated....so that is a risk.

Second is someone knowing where you are.   Often I hike in "dead zones" for cell service.  I might not be very far from town (only 10-15 minutes) but sand dunes and heavy woods can make for very weak or non existent cell coverage.

Personal protection.  I do think that even a small dog would be at least some deterrent so small dogs are often the ones that bite.  I did feel safer when I had a dog to hike with me...but not sure I want another dog just so I have a hiking partner.

I know the statistics of being raped or kidnapped, etc by a stranger while walking/hiking, etc is extremely rare....but for me, like many women, it does linger in the back of my mind 

Glad to see that others do go out....even if they are a bit nervous about doing so.

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Hiking or running doesn’t worry me though I do take my phone and we have trails close to home.  There were drug dealers arrested where I hike a couple of years ago so maybe I should worry but I just really don’t.  Also we don’t have bears.  Snakes would be the biggest worry but not this time of year.  I would be scared to kayak alone though because I haven’t swum far in a few years.

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Just now, Ottakee said:

Several issues have been brought up.

First....fear of getting hurt.  I am plus sized, almost 50 and have never been graceful or coordinated....so that is a risk.

Second is someone knowing where you are.   Often I hike in "dead zones" for cell service.  I might not be very far from town (only 10-15 minutes) but sand dunes and heavy woods can make for very weak or non existent cell coverage.

Personal protection.  I do think that even a small dog would be at least some deterrent so small dogs are often the ones that bite.  I did feel safer when I had a dog to hike with me...but not sure I want another dog just so I have a hiking partner.

I know the statistics of being raped or kidnapped, etc by a stranger while walking/hiking, etc is extremely rare....but for me, like many women, it does linger in the back of my mind 

Glad to see that others do go out....even if they are a bit nervous about doing so.

You could consider carrying an Epirb

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I used to hike alone (I am not a water person so no kayaking and such for me ever).  Mostly not in really remote places, though there were a few times I was hiking on mountain trails and realized if I fell I might never be found, but I didn't really worry about it.   (And those occasions were in National Parks, so I really should have checked in with the office and let them know what I was doing.)

Now there is really no opportunity to do so, though I would be happy to do it. I'm sure I would be more nervous now than I was in my 20s and 30s. 

I love the solitude of the woods. 

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I go on city hikes alone, but not longer mountain hikes. I don't go on water alone. I would consider walking/hiking on a well traveled mountain trail, but haven't done it.  I wish dd13 had more stamina, I would take her on hikes, but she will start complaining after the first mile, and that makes the day miserable. 😞 Due to that, if I am going on uneven or hilly ground, I am on my own. (She will only walk on flat paths)

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16 minutes ago, Tap said:

I go on city hikes alone, but not longer mountain hikes. I don't go on water alone. I would consider walking/hiking on a well traveled mountain trail, but haven't done it.  I wish dd13 had more stamina, I would take her on hikes, but she will start complaining after the first mile, and that makes the day miserable. 😞 Due to that, if I am going on uneven or hilly ground, I am on my own. (She will only walk on flat paths)

I don't know if it would help her or not, but my nieces got hiking poles and that makes them much more willing to go farther and up and down hills.  They support 400+# and are adjustable to people over 6' tall.

And as a bonus, when one niece gets bored or whiny on a hike she can draw a tic tac toe board with the end of her pole so we can play a quick game 

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I hike, snowshoe, nordic ski, bike and run alone regularly. Always have done since a kid. It's usually daylight, but in the winter, with very short days, I'm often outside in the dark. It's actually pretty lovely being outside in the dark with snow. I bring a cell phone recently, but that's mostly for taking photos.

What has really helped my confidence for safety in the city is the self-defense training I did in Taekwon-do. Many of the concepts transfer over perfectly to safety in the woods, such as being aware of your environment, and being prepared. Part of being prepared includes preparing your body for the physical demands of the activity you're going to do. For a really simple example, before a multi-day backpacking expedition, my friend prepared the skin on her feet by soaking them and removing dry and built-up callouses to prevent blisters - a super common and painful plague of hikers. 

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A self defense class is a really good idea.  A friend and I were talking about this before the shut down happened.  We might have to revisit that idea as things open up again.

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I'm not comfortable hiking, camping, or canoeing alone. I already have anxiety and being alone in the woods or on the water would scare me. I did hike alone on a long trail in Yosemite years ago and halfway down the trail I started worrying about mountain lions, and that was enough to keep me going until I got back to civilization! I also did lots of solo biking and hiking as a teen, but I seem to be accident-prone as an adult and that affects my willingness to go out alone. Two summers ago, we had several women grabbed and raped on what most people would consider a very safe local hiking and biking trail and I've sometimes encountered people who make me uncomfortable while hiking with my kids, so I've become more cautious.

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3 hours ago, Ottakee said:

Personal protection.  I do think that even a small dog would be at least some deterrent so small dogs are often the ones that bite.  I did feel safer when I had a dog to hike with me...but not sure I want another dog just so I have a hiking partner.

I've heard some sad stories about small dogs being attacked by predators in woods. Just this week a coyote was drawn close to a couple suburban neighbourhoods and attacked a small dog on leash on a trail. The common advice for humans when they encounter predator wildlife is to make yourself look very large and stay calm. Also, make noise while hiking to warn off predators before any confrontation can occur. Bells on a walking stick are pretty effective.

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I used to be very independent and go solo all the time. Then for a number of years, I got in to this mode where I always had to have someone to go with me. I would postpone or just not do something if someone did not come with me. I am moving back to being more independent again. I think it is just about humans being creatures of habit. I was in the habit of going it alone, and then I got married and used to always having someone with me, so even if it were not my husband, it was someone. Now I am back to doing things alone again.

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I actually wrote my master's thesis on the differing home ranges of boys and girls and how they'd shrunk between the 1960s and 1990s. It was so long ago I wrote it that I can't remember the precise details, but while children could range unsupervised from their homes (in town and in the country) for a much larger distance in the 1960s than in the 1990s, in both time periods girls had a much smaller home range, about half that of boys. This significantly impacts their overall sense of safety (past these limits there be dragons!) and limits their life experiences compared to boys.

While I would never go on the water alone, I am quite comfortable being in the woods alone. A lot of this is due to being raised in an eastern, rural state with few people and very little crime. Also I was of the generation that parents shooed out the door until lunch and then again not to come back until dinner. Often I was outdoors with my sister or friends, but just as often I would walk the wooded paths on our property alone or with our dog and sit under a big pine for an hour or so. I became less comfortable walking alone in some places we lived in the mid-Atlantic because the population and crime rates were higher. In these areas, I usually go hiking with friends. Definitely, as someone mentioned, near the trailhead/parking area seems to be the place where there can be people "just hanging out" and not actually hiking, once you are in the actual woods there are few people and most of them are polite hikers. (Though I have never lived in a town where illegal pot farms are on state land or other drug smuggling activity is taking place in the wilderness. If there were that kind of risk, I wouldn't even go there with other people.) I live in the northeast and don't worry too much about wildlife. Black bear attacks are rare. The two black bears I have seen on the trail have just run off. A moose in rut could be dangerous, but I never see moose when I am trying to see moose in moose heavy areas, so I don't think I have much to worry about there. Cougars may be silently returning to the east and Mid-Atlantic, and a proven viable local population of those would deter me as would grizzlies. 

So location is a factor in feeling safe. To feel safe in terms of being prepared: I'll take a walk with just a jacket and water and my phone, but for an actual solo day hike (2+ hrs) I bring my phone, hiking poles, a backpack with food, water, change of clothes and extra layers, first aid kit including supplies for twisted ankle, walkie talkie and extra batteries (husband has the other and if they were searching he would bring it if no cell signal), fire-making supplies, one of those metallic emergency blankets, knife, a whistle, a tarp and rope, and dog food if I am bringing the dog. This bag stays packed except for the food and water so I can just grab it and go. 

But I think the number one way to reduce anxiety about being alone walking in the woods or hiking in nature is to bring a dog. Now, my dog isn't some sort of fluffy cutie, he's big and black and has a deep bark and is and very protective of me. When I walk with him, any concern I have when meeting people on the trail evaporates (well, I am concerned with having to pull him way off to the side to let the other hikers feel comfortable to pass--but that's normal now with social distancing.)

The risk vs reward of solo walking or hiking is a calculation only an individual can make. Rewards are many: exercise, learning about nature, mental wellness, relaxation, spiritual peace, etc. As for risks,  I think location is the key factor. But most places are really safe! Sometimes worries about what could happen ruin what actually was a good, safe walk! That may be something a person could work on by choosing a very, very short walk (5-10 minutes) to a beautiful spot (maybe overlooking a lake or under a huge tree) and just resting there with lunch or a good book, repeating that walk often until any anxiety evaporates, then going a little farther down the trail next time and having lunch at the new spot. If the person finds that the anxiety does not lessen, and solo is not an option, they could put it out there that they are looking for walking/hiking companions or they could join already scheduled walks run by nature centers, Audubon chapters, or hiking clubs. The rewards of getting out in nature are not diminished by doing it with others. 

 

Edited by Kalmia
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Nope. I’ll walk in the neighbourhood alone, but not in the woods (even neighbourhood woods).

I grew up spending my days playing and wandering in the hills by myself. There were lots of rattlesnakes, mountain lions, poison oak, and pot farms if one wandered too far. None of that concerned me. We don’t have any of that here (though we do have a rabid fox problem) or anywhere I’ve lived as an adult, but I’m just more comfortable around people. City streets I’d wander alone without a second thought.


Plus, I would get bored hiking alone. And going out on water alone is just a really bad idea.

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I'm too chicken to hike by myself. I don't even like to go with just myself and my kids. People worry me more than animals. My kids are loud enough that we will never take a bear or cougar by surprise. lol. The possibility of injury is the major factor. There's no cell service in many of the places we hike and stuck in the woods with a hurt mom is not a situation I'd like my kids to experience. 

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Nope. My years of reading true crime have taught me that being a female alone in a secluded area is a bad idea.

Re. self defense classes, those are of limited usefulness because most males are significantly stronger than females and can easily overpower them. Plus, predators usually have a weapon.

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16 hours ago, Ottakee said:

This week though I went kayaking alone (my son and his friend were on jet skis so they knew where I was and could check on me).  Last Saturday and again today I did short 2-3 mile solo hikes.  Those make me more nervous....but I am old and fat and hard to kidnap.

Unfortunately, being old and fat doesn't make you safe from predators. There have been plenty of middle aged and older women who have been victims. There was a horrible case in a nearby city a few years ago where an elderly woman was raped and murdered while on her early morning walk.

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I will walk, hike, and bike alone.  I am not a runner.  There aren't really a lot of opportunities for water activities where I am that would occur in an isolated area.

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2 hours ago, Selkie said:

Nope. My years of reading true crime have taught me that being a female alone in a secluded area is a bad idea.

 

I wonder if it's more dangerous than driving a similar length of time? I have no idea, but we tend to downplay familiar risks.

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14 minutes ago, Laura Corin said:

I wonder if it's more dangerous than driving a similar length of time? I have no idea, but we tend to downplay familiar risks.

I feel safer in a closed vehicle. For context, I tend to feel less safe riding a bicycle or even a two wheeler down the same road. Something about proximity to vehicles and exposure seems so to me though logically the risk could be about the same and it's all in my head probably. 

I will also say " lost female in the woods" trope play a big part in my head about my fear of the woods. Horror movies, the female wearing heels of course running, tripping and falling, detective shows and true crime books all of which I am an avid watcher and reader and my vivid imagination play a big part in it.

OP, What I do know for certain from learning swimming as an adult is conquering my idea about what I thought it was and what it actually turned out to  be was the biggest battle that needed to be won. The "I will drown" fear in my head every time I would get into the water meant I could not even learn from a qualified adult swimmer because I would panic so much just putting my head under water. What truly helped me was a mentor who worked with my fear, did not minimize it or try to push it away as "normal", but helped me get tools that made me conquer it. 

I  would say get a mentor who can help you do it if it means so much to you. I had to learn to swim as an adult and I was not in the best shape and had modesty issues. I had to work on it so much but today it is one of the things that gives me a great sense of achievement and sheer joy. I am not the best swimmer or have the technique, but I kept at it. I see that among older swimmers who learn as adults in my pool. They keep at it, often for years in a kiddie pool. Age and body weight should not keep us away from doing things we love. So I hope you find a way to do this safely for it is very clear you love it so much. 

Edited by Dreamergal
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I tried finding statistics and can't find recent ones but the actual risk of a woman being assaulted by a stranger while hiking was far less than the risk of a serious car accident driving to the trails.....but it is perceived risk.   I too feel safer in my car than alone on the trails....even if the numbers are completely the opposite.

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I love the photos from your hike! I think that you will slowly get used to your solo hikes. There are some basic safety rules you can follow, such as hike during the day and when there are other people/families around. Pick a few favourite hiking locations and get to know the trails well so you feel really confident about your location. I also love that you didn't kayak completely alone. Water safety is always good to follow no matter what age you are. 

And you can certainly mix up your solo hiking with hikes with friends. Invite a friend to join you so that you can enjoy each other's company as well as get exercise. 

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2 hours ago, Laura Corin said:

I wonder if it's more dangerous than driving a similar length of time? I have no idea, but we tend to downplay familiar risks.

Hard to say. You would have to sift through the statistics for car accidents to find out what the risk is for a driver who is female, driving during daytime hours,  not intoxicated, etc. 

Obviously, it is a matter of personal risk assessment. I know from years of following and reading about such cases that women who are alone in isolated areas are victimized all too often, which is why I choose not to put myself in that position.

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I'd be okay if I was in an area with cell reception, and had my big dog(s). If no dog, than pepper spray. Possibly both, due to predatory animals. I'd likely be most nervous about a wild animal attacking my dog than anything else. 

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