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hiking-solitude

Over at the Watching the World Wake Up blog “Watcher” writes about a recent hiking and camping trip in the Sonoran desert. The blog post itself is pretty interesting and touches on everything from cacti identification in the field to photosynthesis but what I find most interesting is the fact that this group was the first to summit Sheep Mountain in 365 days (though it’s not clear how they verified this).

These days it’s tough to find a place on the planet where no one else has been for months – apparently even the summit of Everest sees many more visitors each year than Sheep Mountain. Of course that could be due to the fact that Sheep Mountain is littered with exploded and unexploded ordinance from Luke AFB fighters but I suppose that’s a small price to pay for solitude.

With the rise of the internet it’s becoming even harder to keep secluded spots secret any more. Websites like Geocaching.com lead GPS hiking enthusiasts off trail to find secret spots and swimmingholes.info spills the beans on places to take a dip in the summer. One of our favorite swimming holes in Durham, NC is a beautiful and secluded former quarry and the guy who first gave us directions warned that we shouldn’t post anything about it online for fear the place would become overrun. We hear the same thing from time to time on our mountain bike website as well – that somehow certain trails should remain “secret stashes” accessible only to those in the know.

I guess I fall somewhere in between wanting to keep less-traveled outdoor spots that way and sharing them with others. Besides, some spots like Sheep Mountain are so remote and rugged that they’ll always stay relatively untraveled, even with the most enthusiastic online endorsement. So feel free to share – just be prepared to go further and deeper outdoors to find solitude next time…

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# Comments

  • Jim Muller

    Instead of spatial displacement (go further or elsewhere) think of temporal displacement (off-season).

    One of the primary reasons I endorse winter camping is the sense of seclusion one gets out in the woods. It doesn’t take much of a trip to leave the day skiers/snowshoes behind.

    In fact, winter camping has several advantages over summer camping:
    – You can reach areas that are too wet or overgrown during other seasons.
    – The clear and open view is unparalleled.
    – Winter camping provides solitude and a feeling of exploration; even heavily traveled trails can seem like virgin territory when covered by a fresh blanket of snow.
    – Camping in the winter inspires a feeling of independence and gives people confidence in their survival skills.
    – There are no mosquitoes or bears.

    No crowds, no noise, nothing to disturb the sense of solitude and discovery.

  • AZ Hiker

    This was a great blog about hiking away from the crowds. We’re always looking for new ways to give our clients better hikes in Arizona ourselves.

  • Watcher

    Hi there, thanks for the link. Sheep Mtn has a register. It’s certainly possible it could’ve been climbed in the intervening year by someone who didn’t sign, but seems unlikely. The cannister’s obvious, and it’s hard to imagine not signing in after that lengthy and tedious scramble…

    We’ve done another peak nearby in Cabeza Prieta where we were first to summit in 3 1/2 years, and other peaks in Utah’s West Desert where we’ve been the first up in 3 1/2 years, and 15 months, respectively. The last one I blogged about here:

    http://watchingtheworldwakeup.blogspot.com/2008/04/newfoundland-mountains-part-3-sage-o.html

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