I never hike alone. The closest I’ve come is a walking commute in the city, but I nearly always do that with a soundtrack. I wanted some solitude, some being-quiet-with-your-own-thoughts time, while at the same time doing something physical and a bit demanding. So I took one of my solo-retreat days and hiked Cape Horn, all by myself.
This is part of our 100 Things in 2016 challenge. Here’s the full list.
Becky was strangely nervous about me doing this, which is weird, because she did this exact same hike on her own just a few years ago. She was confused too, and after talking it over we realized that it’s because she’s a more experienced solo hiker than I am; she’s been doing these for years, and this was my first one. Anyways, she made me promise to send her a photo every now and again so she’d know I hadn’t fallen off a cliff.
This trail isn’t just a stroll in the woods. There’s about 1200 feet of difference between the lowest and highest points. It was really satisfying, though. I made sure to take lots of pictures so Becky wouldn’t worry, and so I could prove that I’d done it.
I may have been standing behind a waterfall at one point.
This was also my first day wearing my new Apple Watch, and there was an app I’d been wanting to try for months: ViewRanger. It’s a cool idea: you get route guidance and a heads-up when something notable is coming up, without ever taking your phone out of your pocket. It records your hike in excruciating detail. And there’s even an augmented reality mode, where it annotates the landmarks you can see in the camera. The experience was a bit marred by the fact that this trail had an outdated route, so the app kept thinking I was off the trail, and my phone and watch were both at 20% battery at the end of the hike, but it was otherwise pretty cool.
Still, the watch was a great asset as I was trying to take photos of myself. I could prop my phone up, walk 20 feet away, make sure I was in the right part of the frame using the preview on my wrist, and trigger a 3-second timer to take the shot. The very first photo in this post was taken that way, and I wouldn’t have wanted to spend 15 minutes getting it right if I hadn’t had the watch.
The hike was great. I usually spend my retreats mostly in front of screens, but after this I may be dedicating part of them to a good strenuous hike.