Finding a hiking partner can be more challenging than finding a life partner.
Anyone can hike alone in the wilderness but, at the beginning, it may be advantageous to hike with one or more hiking partners. Risk can be reduced with experience, knowledge and skill, however risk will always be higher alone than hiking with companions. A good number is three people. If there is an unforeseen injury or circumstance, one person can stay and one person can go for help. These are some examples of qualities to look for in a hiking partner. They must have:
- A similar sense of humor with the ability to maintain calm in the face of adversity.
- Physical fitness and a similar hiking pace.
- A good, periodic conversationalist with a positive attitude and similar value systems.
- The ability to, equally, work independently and embrace the concept of team.
- Possess appropriate gear for the mission and appropriate skill sets.
- Is interested in photography, or whatever, so the patience required is tolerable.
- Common sense.
- The ability to summon the joy and excitement of their inner child.
- The ability to respond positively to dynamic change.
Your attributes for a good partner may be unique. That is fine. You may wish to make new friends, to find a life partner, to get out of the house and enjoy the magnificence of Mother Nature or to share a related interest such as bird-watching, the study of flora and fauna, history, native lore, canyons, fire lookouts or anything else that cranks your chain.
To find a good hiking partner there are a variety of sources.
- Hiking in guided adventures.
- Wilderness courses. Attending a basic or advanced hiking course to learn fundamentals will result in meeting other people who share the same interests and aspirations.
- Church or workplace groups.
- Hiking Clubs. Join a hiking club. Living in an urban area with hiking opportunities nearby, there will be a host of organizations which cater to this common goal. There may be a broad range of options. Seek out a compatible group well suited to your specific needs.
- Park Ranger programs.
- Commercially guided hikes.
- Start your own hiking group.
- A university affiliated outdoor center like the Calgary Outdoor Center.
Are you gender sensitive, age sensitive, questionably fit, inexperienced, very experienced?
When arriving at a trail-head with a group of potential new friends, everyone will begin at the same time. Walk at your own normal, comfortable pace.
If you are not as quick as some of the leaders, do not compete. Just relax and enjoy. Maintain your own comfortable pace. After the first kilometer or two, the group will likely be spread out over a considerable distance.
The gunners are up front, ahead of the group. The stragglers are behind. The people hiking in your vicinity are potentially future hiking partners. Strike up a conversation with one who seems like a good candidate. It may take several hiking experiences to find that first potential candidate. Select a positive, friendly attitude. Someone who is negative and complaining is not a good partner for much of anything.
As experience is gained, hiking needs may change. If you have a passion for photography, you can drive someone to distraction who does not share the same interest. Someone with similar interests and temperament will share and embellish the time together. Just anyone will not do. The wrong person may sabotage your initiative. Good luck.
Happy trails and stay safe.