My breath caught in my throat as I was sent tumbling towards the ground. I quickly caught the fall, heartrate slowing as I surveyed the root and rock strewn path to Mt. Dickerman. Rapidly, adrenaline surged through my body a second time as I remembered that I was hiking solo, on a weekday and had not seen anyone for miles. No one to catch a fall, a twisted ankle or sprain. Simple root stumbles mean something very different for survival on a solo jaunt.
Later that afternoon, I emerged on the summit with expansive views in every direction. With no one else to congratulate and celebrate with, I let the small, quiet triumph swell within my chest. I made it here, of my own volition, putting one foot in front of the other, nothing but my own willpower to stop me from turning around. The struggle was mine alone to suffer, but the joy was mine as well, and sitting on the top of the peak on a Wednesday, I felt like one of the lucky ones.
When I was able to run (pre-shin splints), I almost always ran alone. It was time to clear my head, pay attention to the minutiae of my body. Hiking had always been separate from that. Even in a group, I often walk silently for many of the miles, simply running out of things to say. But there isn’t that second layer of thoughts that come from being truly alone. It wasn’t until this solo trip up Mt. Dickerman that I realized how much I miss the second layer. Hopefully, sometime soon I will be able to run again, but until then, solo trips up the trail will have to do.
Mt. Dickerman Trail
I arrived to the parking lot and laced up my boots slowly. I was excited to be hiking on a Wednesday, but the prospect of doing it alone caused a little hesitation. Still, I finished gearing up and walked to the trailhead.
Switchback followed switchback and I fell into a steady rhythm. The trail continued relentlessly uphill and I paused when breathing became difficult, only to plunge back in. Cutting through dense forest, large boulders occasionally