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On Traveling Solo...

Loneliness, fear, guns and philosophy

First things first

I must preface all of this by saying that 95% of the time, I'm actually quite happy and feel safe traveling by myself.

There's only one time in all of my worldly travels that I truly felt somewhat trapped and afraid... which coincidentally was in northern Montana last autumn when I was on a month-long trip to Alberta.

That's a story my Mom will never hear... but the situation resolved, all was well in the end and I learned a lesson.

Being alone vs. being lonely

I get so much energy from and love being around people. So when I'm in a town I seek out social events and places, and get to talking!

And when I'm deep on the trail and haven't seen anyone for a day, I appreciate that time as well.

I need the balance.

But if I'm being completely honest, there are definitely moments I wish I had someone. I think it's more about wanting a partner than the intermittent feeling of loneliness, though.

One afternoon in Steamboat while waiting to meet some new friends for tacos, there were these beautiful pups tied up outside the restaurant.

One had its chin resting so sweetly on the other. I sat across from them for at least ten minutes and just thought to myself how wonderful it would be to have someone to rest my head on.

Whether after a hard day of working or playing, something so simple seemed so incredibly loving.

I got really sad. Those moments don't come often, but they do remind me to stay open to new connections.

Do I get scared?

I can honestly say in the twenty two days I've been out on this trip so far, I have not felt scared once.

I've felt concerned. At times things have gotten hard; I've struggled. I try to be aware of and constantly assess the risks around me (animals, steep areas, unstable trail conditions, weather, people, water etc). But I've never felt scared.

Do I carry a firearm?

I've been asked this six times in the last three weeks. The answer is: no.

I do carry bear spray, an air horn (mostly for the stray dogs of New Mexico), an SOS GPS device and a knife.

So far, the knife has only ever been used to slice cheese and summer sausage, and the only time I've discharged bear spray, I accidentally sprayed myself.

Need I say more about me carrying a gun?

Backpacking and bikepacking

Nothing about carrying a gun on a bikepacking trip makes sense to me.

Horrendous logistics aside, it would shift my approach to the world from one of curiosity to one of constant suspicion.

This is something bikepackers and thru hikers get asked a lot. So far I've never met anyone who carried one or was ever in a situation where they wished they had one.

A gun small enough to pack probably isn't big enough to stop a bear.

On the other hand, bear spray is effective on both bears and people—in fact, the NPS says it is more likely to stop a bear attack than a firearm.

Two camps

It seems people either want to talk about one of the following:

  1. Everything that could go wrong

  2. The details and excitement of the adventure

People rarely ask questions about both.

Camp 1

After lifting her shirt to reveal her loaded firearm, one woman told me she'd never do what I was doing because it only took one bad person to...

I replied that in my experience, the overwhelming majority of people are innately good; they're "helpers," as Jane Goodall puts it.

I have soooo many examples of that from this trip alone.

The risks we're willing to take

We all have varying degrees of risk we accept in our day-to-day.

Some people chainsmoke. Some don't eat their veggies. Some live in hurricane- or wildfire-prone areas.

Some people choose risky professions or hobbies.

Yet others are so risk averse that they rarely take any risks at all. And that, in and of itself, seems pretty risky.

Loving and living

Personally, I can't imagine having missed out on all of the beautiful experiences and places and wonderful people I've met over the last two decades because of fear of what "could" have gone wrong.

I suppose in the end, I'd rather have lived (and lost!?) than to never have lived at all.

4 комментария

Caitlyn, Wow your doing what I had thought about doing something similar. I know your mom and dad, I was actually best man at their wedding. I cannot beleive he is just now letting me know of this amazing adventure you are on . I had thought of doing a bike trip across the country when in college with a group. Then never did. I have done Ragbrai, acronym for, Registers Grate American Bike Ride Across Iowa a couple of times. But never anything quite like your doing. Once spent about four days riding around Michigan from school in Kalamazoo and met friends in Spring Lake then back. I remember sleeping on the shores of Lake MI and watching t…

Caitlyn Milton
Caitlyn Milton
02 июл. 2022 г.
Ответ пользователю

Hi Bruce--wow thanks for your message, it was so fun to read! I've heard such amazing things about Ragbrai... it's definitely on my bucket list.

You know, it's never too late! There's a couple in their 80s doing this ride this year :)


Brian Syptak
Brian Syptak
13 июн. 2022 г.

Hope you're having a great time Caity!

-brian from breckenridge

Caitlyn Milton
Caitlyn Milton
02 июл. 2022 г.
Ответ пользователю

How are your Great Divide preparations coming along??

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