I used to hike alone all the time. My days off never aligned with those of my family or friends so I had no other choice. Plus, I liked the freedom of being on my time and going at my pace and doing extra exploring if that’s what I wanted.
Last summer I got away from that. I traveled, A LOT. I went to Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Francisco, and Spain! It was the best summer of my life.
But it kept me from going on my solo hiking trips in the area.
This week I was off on Tuesday. And I was hesitant to plan anything because that would mean going alone. It had just been so long that I felt weird and not confident and wondered what other people would think seeing a young girl out on the trail by herself.
I knew the Rubicon trail would be a great hike and I wanted to go and get that confidence back. So at 11:30pm on Monday after hours of going back and forth on should I go, should I not go? I set my alarm for 6am.
I woke up, packed my bag (very little planning went into this), stopped for a coffee at Purple Bean, put the destination in my maps, and got on the road.
I got there around 8:15am (I suggest getting there early since the lot does fill up quick and bring $10 for the park fee). I gathered my things and hit the trail. It is a five-mile hike (one way) to Emerald Bay. You could hike with someone else and park two cars but I of course would be hiking the five miles back. I brought plenty of water, snacks, sunscreen, and my bathing suit and towel because I knew I would want to find a spot to swim.
As soon as I started on the trail, I was overwhelmed by the views of the lake. Along with the early morning air, the birds chirping, the calmness of the water, and just the stillness of the world around me. It was incredible. I was content being alone. I felt lucky to have this experience.
The trail follows the ridgeline of the lake for most of the way. I took so many breaks because I couldn’t believe the beauty, it had to be appreciated.
The trail was not crowded at all, which is always nice. I passed a few other older couples and a nice older gentleman backpacking on the way.
I took my first water break at a vista and just sat and counted my blessings. It was a beautiful day.
The path varies uphill/downhill since you are following the ridge-line, with a mix of rock steps (does anyone else just really love rock stairs??) and forest. Once you get to Emerald Bay, you come across a campsite which was a little confusing for me but follow the concrete path straight and it will lead you back to the trail. The hike goes all the way to Eagle Point Campground. I hiked to the Vikingsholm Castle where they usually offer tours however due to the pandemic they are on hold. It was still cool to see.
I further hiked to Lower Eagle Falls and then made my way back.
I found a perfect spot, just off the trail, right before the campsite. A massive rock that goes out into the bay but flattens so it’s a great place to lay out, right on the lake. I sat there, just me and my thoughts, and you won’t believe what happened.
Remember the older backpacker, I had passed earlier in the day? Well here he comes in a kayak. I wave to him and he waves back.
“You made it further,” he says.
“And you got a kayak!”
He told me he likes to hike out and kayak back. What a cool guy, he reminded me of my dad. He then asked if I was staying at the campgrounds with my family. I replied and told him no, I had just come up for the day. He then said, “I admire your independence.” And told me to have a good day.
It seems like no big deal, but it really meant a lot to me. I almost let the fear of being alone keep me from going on such a great adventure. I spent a couple hours out there on the rock, went for a swim, read, and journaled. I almost fell asleep until a family nearby let me know that bears were in the campsite headed in our direction. I packed up my stuff and got out of there because while bears are cute, I would rather keep the distance.
About three miles back to D.L. Bliss State Park, it started to rain! It was awesome. It had been clear skies all day, the clouds came out of nowhere. And now I was caught in the middle of a thunderstorm and a nice warm summer rain.
Lastly, right by the park, you can hike up to an old lighthouse. I recommend checking it out.
All in all, this was a fantastic hike with incredible views and for me, so many unforgettable surprises, and a lesson learned.
It is okay to go alone.
Embrace your independence. I hope I have inspired some of you to go on your own adventures. You won’t regret it. Please leave a comment if you try out this trail. I would love to hear about your experience!