Killed by Coyotes – The Risk of Hiking Alone

Beautiful, but safe?

Ah, the Wilderness .. rejuvenating or dangerous?

Just how risky is it to go off on your own? I wrote about hiking alone a few weeks back after walking in the wilds of northern Saskatchewan. I wrote about being scared of bears, of human predators, and, well, mosquitoes are annoying, too. But I never could have predicted the tragic attack on a budding young musician, Taylor Mitchell,  who was killed by coyotes when hiking alone in Cape Breton Highlands National Park in Nova Scotia a couple of days ago. She, like many of us, probably loved walking alone. It seems like a much more direct experience with nature. When I’m with someone and we’re talking I tend to forget my surroundings. Conversation drowns out those wonderful sounds of crows, frogs, robins, rustling leaves and water running through streams. When it’s just me, it’s a dialogue between me and the forest (or the mountains, or field, or whatever) and something is lost when I’m in company.

When I think of all the places I’ve hiked alone in the last few months – the Grand Canyon; the hills around Montegrotto, Italy; Waskesui in Saskatchewan and along the riverbank in Saskatoon –  it makes me wonder if I was pushing my luck. Is the joy of solo wandering worth it? Then again, when I was travelled down the Yukon River this summer on a river boat, we kept passing a blond nordic-looking woman.

Lone Paddler

Braver than I'll ever be

She was kayaking alone, her strokes were steady and she quite often pulled past us as we meandered down the river in our motorized boat. She must have been camping alone at night, and the Yukon is serious wilderness. She is braver (and far more fit) than I’ll ever be, but I have to say, I was envious of her strength and determination. That’s a dialogue with nature I’ll never get to have. Then again, neither will lovely talented Taylor. On behalf of single hikers everywhere, our thoughts are with you.