For many, hiking and backpacking are team sports. We like to go with family or friends and enjoy the company, conversations, and experiencing an adventure together. Then there’s the safety aspect: If something were to happen, we wouldn’t be alone and we have people we trust to rely on and help us if needed.
So for an even more epic adventure like the Kalalau Trail, it’s natural to default to making it a group outing as well. At the end of the day, many are not comfortable going it alone. Or is it all just in your head!?
Here are some good reasons to reconsider and think differently about taking on Kalalau solo:
For many, making it onto the Kalalau Trail is the result of many stars having to line up perfectly: Coordinate schedules, get time off work, get permits, book flights & accommodations, navigate Covid restrictions, get reliable transportation to the trailhead, and the weather. Then there is the occasional trail closure and - more recently - even the road closure leading to the trailhead. Lots of things have to go right before you can even set your foot on the trail.
As a group, these logistics and the related coordination become even more daunting. For a solo hiker, some of these planning and logistic challenges fortunately get easier. (I had plans to hike the trail with friends right when COVID-19 hit and things quickly fell apart. However, I did manage to replan and reschedule everything, but just for myself, when the island was more or less still shut down. It turned out to be a fantastic solo experience.)
Set Your Own Pace
It’s very common for people to have different paces when hiking. One person is always faster than the other, even if just by a little bit. So when you hike alone, there is no waiting for others or having to catch up. You set your own pace, however fast or slow you want it to be.
And you determine your own breaks and photo opportunities. No negotiation needed.
It Makes The Experience More Intense
When you’re on a solo mission, you experience everything more intensely. Somehow everything is amplified, especially when the adrenaline is flowing.
You Expand Your Comfort Zone
Our regular cushy comfort zone is very, well, comfortable. But it’s good to get out of it once in a while and experience something new and truly push your limits. Going on an adventure like the Kalalau Trail solo will definitely help you expand that comfort zone and challenge yourself.
Feeling Of Accomplishment
Finishing this trail and making it back is no small feat. It’s an achievement you’ll never forget. However, doing so solo makes it even more remarkable and something to be proud of.
There is so much to see and experience in Kalalau. Without the chitter-chatter and other distractions from your hiking partners, you’ll be able to really focus on this unique environment and take it all in, all the sites, sounds, smells, and more. As you get a chance to immerse yourself fully, you’ll just see and hear so much more.
Time To Reflect And Reconnect With Yourself
The daily grind and busyness of everyday life often manage to drown out your inner voice. More often than not, there is no time to think about who you are, what you want, and what really matters to you. Even in our spare time, we tend to fill the void with our electronics and other distractions.
When in Kalalau, away from WiFi, cell phone coverage, and all the usual hustle and bustle, you are inadvertently forced to disconnect - literally and figuratively. It will take hours or sometimes even a day or two to truly calm down, relax, and reconnect to yourself. Life slows down. This is the perfect time to introspect and reconnect with yourself and who you really are.
Doing this solo will make this easier. It’s also a great time to listen to some thought-provoking audiobooks.
The feeling of needing to rely on yourself and only on yourself, for several days at that, is somewhat frightening but also empowering. Being able to be self-sufficient like that is a great experience and confidence builder.
(That said, there are other people on the trail, most of whom are quite friendly and willing to help out in an emergency, so you’re never truly on your own.)
As you can see, there are some definite advantages to taking on the Kalalau Trail by yourself. So if you’ve been on the fence, give it another thought. It might just be your chance to get out of your comfort zone and turn it into a once-in-a-lifetime experience! If it comes down to going solo or not at all, you should definitely consider it seriously and not let your initial gut reaction deter you right away. Or it may actually be your choice to go for it on your own. Either way, if you’re well-prepared, Kalalau will not disappoint, be it as a solo or group adventure.
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