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Robin: solo hiking experience and favorite apps



Tell the readers a bit about yourself. When and why did you start hiking?

I started hiking as a young child with my parents, traipsing behind them in the Appalachian mountains of the United States and in Germany and Greece. Soon I was hiking with my scout troop. I saw the outdoors as an amazing, wondrous place, and I wanted to explore its beauty and wonders. Forty years later, I am still drawn to nature.

What is your approach to hiking? How do you choose places to travel?

I am most often a soloist: I prefer to enjoy nature in solitude, letting its beauty speak to me without other voices around. Toward this end, I research places that may be challenging to get to, times of the year when human traffic on trails is at its lowest, etc. If the place I wish to visit is popular, I’ll opt for a mid-week trip in inclement weather. Rain never bothers me: in the rain, I feel the closest to nature.

What are your favorite apps you use for hiking? What features do you use most often?

My go-to app is Gaia. I love to make use of its various layers to gain insights into a proposed trip while on my home computer, then use the app in the field for navigating, monitoring elevation, track recording, geolocation of images, etc.

I also use the Avenza app with its geolocated PDF maps because there are some excellent free maps available for this app that have been created by local groups that are far superior in accuracy, information, and level of detail than commercially available maps.

Do you use any GPS equipment for hiking? Name 5 items you can't imagine hiking without.

I use the Gaia app for navigational convenience, but for extended backcountry trips, I carry an older handheld Garmin GPS.

Five items I can’t imagine hiking without are safety basics:

  • water/water filter,
  • food,
  • a first aid kit,
  • map,
  • compass.

Close behind those are a knife and cordage, and perhaps an ultralight tarp.

What websites do you look at for information about the places you plan to explore?

I often start planning with a Youtube search: videos of areas I’m interested in may further pique my interest or convince me that I don’t want to go. From there, I’ll search the web for trip accounts from others who have been to a place I plan to go.

Finally, I use the Gaia website for detailed trip planning.

What adventures are you planning for the coming year?

I recently registered for Outdoor Vitals 100-mile challenge. I hope to do a thru-hike of the Foothills Trail, a 76.2-mile route, during that challenge. Beyond that, I am hoping to do multiday trips to the Panthertown Valley of North Carolina (USA), the Mt. Rogers high country of southwestern Virginia (USA), and the Linville Gorge Wilderness of North Carolina.