Solo Trekking in the Summer? Ideas Please.
October 5, 2018 8:48 PM   Subscribe

I have a huge desire to go to Nepal but my travel window is July/August. I'm interested in doing some trekking/walking/hiking and am looking for some suggestions.

I've done the Camino, Inca trail, Iceland trekking etc. and loved these experiences. I'm looking to do something similar elsewhere. The new Chilean trail is fascinating, but again, probably wrong time of year. I'm a single female over 40 so am cautious about being in the wilderness alone, however, the trips I like are wilderness/outdoor-based, so if you can recommend a tour group/organization that doesn't 'feel like' a tour group, I would definitely be interested in hearing about that also. (I would love to be like Cheryl Strayed, but I'm not quite there yet!)

So the main questions are:
1. Where should I go hiking/trekking/outdoor-activity-ing in July/Aug?
2. What is the best way to go so I'm not alone? (ie the Camino, you can go alone, but you certainly aren't alone when you are there if you don't want to be!).
Note: I don't drive on trips so no car-based suggestions, thanks.
posted by bquarters to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
This year I did the gr20 in corsica, and year before, the tour du mont blanc. Both amazing though former was a rougher trail with more scrambling. For both I was on my own and self organised but stayed in refuges at night that provided food. Lots of people also doing it so felt safe and was social in the evenings, but I still had peace and quiet most of the time (early September)
posted by JonB at 11:40 PM on October 5, 2018

I have hiked in Germany the past two summers, first the Eifelsteig (ca. 300 km) and then a trail from Freiburg to Konstanz through the Black Forest (ca. 200 km). Both were great, especially the Eifelsteig. On both these trails you are never in true 'wilderness' and come across many small villages and towns, so they may not be rugged enough for your taste, but they are beautiful nonetheless. On the Eifelsteig especially I would meet many other hikers to have a chat with. Weather was great in both cases. Like you, I don't drive, but it was very easy to take the train to the start and end points of both hikes. There are many other options in Germany; the Westweg is high on my list.

The UK also has a lot to offer.
posted by Desertshore at 3:09 AM on October 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

We are on day 10 of the Westweg currently. We are from Canada and have mixed feelings about the trail. A lot of it is on gravel logging roads which has been very tough on our feet. But it is also scenic .. lovely little towns in pretty valleys. I don’t speak much German and we have met a lot of people/hosts who don’t speak English so it’s been more of a barrier than I thought. The weather has been mostly great, but may be quite hot in July and August?

We completed the SouthWest Coast Path in the UK last fall. We did it (600 miles) in three visits, again in Sept/Oct. It was stunning. Being a coastal hike, the views are almost always spectacular! No logging roads there. We really enjoyed looking ahead or behind and where we would be/had been .. it’s something that you can only have on a coastal walk. The weather would be great in summer .. there’s almost always a cooling breeze.

Our next objective is likely going to be the Lighthouse Way, in Galicia. It’s not even an official trail until 2020 but we hope to beat the crowds by doing it sooner. We may be too late though as we’ve seen a number of articles about it already!

Enjoy your journey.

(Sorry for the lack of links. I’m on my phone and unsure how to embed them.)
posted by nelvana at 6:57 AM on October 6, 2018

May be too similar to your Iceland experience, but I did the Kungsleden in Northern Sweden some years ago and had a great time. It's 500 km or so but the topmost quarter or so is the most popular (I did the top half). It has cabins spaced throughout the trail with beds, heat, cooking facilities and food/supplies for sale (but no electricity or running water). I think they're about $30-40 a night. If you don't want a bed you're allowed to free camp literally anywhere, and glacier water is plentiful and does not need to be treated. Also, there are a couple of "mountain stations" at the beginning, end and midpoints of the trail that are more comfortable with electricity, private rooms if you prefer, and really good restaurants serving really delicious Swedish food, hearty breakfast buffets etc. One of these is next to an actual mountain (Kebnekaise) which also offers some alternative outdoor activities.

There'll be a decent number of people, maybe 30 or so plus free campers, along the route with you at the northern/most popular end, and that will dwindle the further away you get, but never to zero. You can hike alone very easily but there will always be people coming along in case you get in trouble, and most of it is above the treeline so you have great visibility.

If you go, look up the Fjallraven Classic and make sure your dates don't overlap since there will be a large influx of people for that.
posted by acidic at 9:01 AM on October 6, 2018

What about the Upper Mustang Trek in Nepal? It will not be rainy there at that time of the year. You do have to pay a fee to enter, but if you're going all that way, it's not a lot of extra money. I did the west side of the Annapurna Circuit in July and the portion of the trek near Upper Mustang (Jomsom, Kagbeni, Mukninath) was delightfully clear and sunny. It's a gorgeous part of the Himalayas.

When I was there 15 years ago, you could only trek the Upper Mustang as part of a tour, camping, but now it looks like you can do it solo and sleep in guesthouses. But if that makes you uncomfortable, you can hire a porter and/or guide, which is inexpensive and yet better for the local economy.

Ladakh in India would give you a similar experience.
posted by lunasol at 3:52 PM on October 6, 2018

My sister and I did it a few years ago, the permit is $500 each fwiw. It was the most difficult thing Ive done in my life, as there were several days of 15-20 mile daily treks (6 to 8 hours) along a varying levels of elevation on a rocky path, all the while heading upwards towards Lo Manthang at 3800m.

Definitely an amazing trip I dont regret going, but you have to be mentally and physically prepared. (I thought walking an hour or two a day would cut it for training.. )
posted by edman at 4:24 PM on October 6, 2018

What about the Tour du Mont Blanc? It seems very popular and non-technical. Has anyone done that? Do you have to book all your accommodations in advance? (How do you know how far you would be able to go each day?). Thanks again. (Just in case Nepal is too logistically and even perhaps physically difficult for this summer- one of my knees doesn't love stairs these days unfortunately which is partly why I want to do these trips ASAP and partially why I am worried about them too!).
posted by bquarters at 5:41 PM on October 6, 2018

Yes I did the tour du mont blanc last year in September, booked all refuges in advance as even at that time of year they were nearly full. It's non technical and with good paths so you can do it fast. The standard route is 10/11 days, I did it in 6 days by leaving straight after breakfast and arriving just before dinner at the next so got 11 hours or so hiking of about 20 miles / 2000m of ascent each day though it varied a bit. Also I did it in the less common direction of clockwise which helped to avoid the crowds, looked very busy on some bits with big groups and this was out of season. Amazing views, especially from some of the higher variants / extra excursions you can do along the way.
posted by JonB at 11:49 PM on October 6, 2018

The dream is really Nepal, but on a university/teacher's schedule. One of my knees is bad so the Annapurna steps could be a problem...but I guess the longer I wait, the more of a problem it will be!!
posted by bquarters at 5:07 PM on October 7, 2018

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