Lone hiker trekking along a scenic trail, surrounded by lush green forests, rolling hills, and a distant mountain range under a clear blue sky, symbolizing peace, adventure, and a connection with nature.

Solo Hiking: Lessons from Briana DeSanctis’ American Discovery Trail Adventure

Solo hiking, a pursuit that intertwines the beauty of nature with the resilience of the human spirit, has been epitomized by Briana DeSanctis, a Maine native who embarked on a solo hike across the American Discovery Trail (ADT). Her journey, covering 6,800 miles from Delaware to California, offers invaluable insights for anyone considering solo hiking. This article draws inspiration from Carey Kish’s portrayal of DeSanctis’ adventure.

Understanding the Solo Hiking Experience

Solo hiking, as demonstrated by DeSanctis, is a blend of physical challenge, mental fortitude, and emotional growth. Unlike group hikes, it offers a unique sense of freedom and self-reliance.

Physical Demands and Preparation

The ADT, stretching across various terrains – from forests and deserts to urban areas – demands exceptional physical fitness. DeSanctis’ journey highlights the need for rigorous physical preparation, including endurance training and acclimatization to different hiking conditions.

To tackle the challenging terrains of the ADT successfully, aspiring solo hikers must:

  1. Train Thoroughly: Regular cardio and strength training are essential to build endurance and strength. Long hikes with a loaded backpack can simulate the challenges of long-distance hiking.
  2. Acclimate to Different Conditions: The ADT covers a wide range of climates. Acclimating your body to various conditions by spending time in similar environments beforehand can be immensely beneficial.
  3. Gear Selection: Invest in quality hiking gear, including comfortable and supportive footwear, a reliable backpack, and weather-appropriate clothing.

Mental Resilience

Solo hiking tests one’s mental strength. DeSanctis faced loneliness and the psychological challenge of navigating through remote and unmarked trails. This underscores the importance of mental preparation, including developing coping strategies for isolation and stress.

To build mental resilience for solo hiking:

  1. Mental Preparation: Before embarking on a solo hike, mentally prepare yourself for solitude. Meditation, mindfulness exercises, and visualization can help ease anxiety.
  2. Emergency Plans: Always have a plan for emergencies, including knowing how to call for help and having an emergency contact.
  3. Practice Navigation: Familiarize yourself with map reading and GPS technology. Carry a reliable communication device for emergencies.

Safety and Navigation

Safety is paramount in solo hiking. DeSanctis’ experience on the ADT, with its occasionally vague signage, emphasizes the need for proficient navigation skills, including map reading and using GPS technology. Carrying a reliable communication device for emergencies is also crucial.

Ensure your safety during solo hikes:

  1. Navigation Skills: Learn how to read maps and use GPS devices effectively. Being able to navigate accurately is essential for staying on course.
  2. Emergency Communication: Carry a satellite phone or personal locator beacon (PLB) to call for help if needed. Inform someone trustworthy about your itinerary.
  3. First Aid Knowledge: Brush up on basic first aid skills. You may need to address minor injuries or medical issues while on the trail.

The Emotional Journey

Solo hiking is not just a physical endeavor but an emotional voyage. DeSanctis’ sense of fulfillment, despite the absence of a traditional home, underscores the transformative nature of such journeys. It offers a platform for self-discovery and reflection, often leading to profound personal insights.

Environmental and Cultural Respect

Respect for nature and local cultures is essential. DeSanctis’ interaction with various communities along the ADT and her appreciation for the natural landscapes exemplify the need for environmental stewardship and cultural sensitivity among solo hikers.

Tips for respecting the environment and local cultures:

  1. Leave No Trace: Follow the Leave No Trace principles, which include packing out all trash, minimizing campfire impact, and respecting wildlife.
  2. Cultural Awareness: Research and respect the cultural practices of the areas you’ll be hiking through. Be mindful of indigenous lands and their significance.
  3. Community Engagement: Interact respectfully with local communities. Support local businesses when possible and contribute positively to the places you visit.

Planning and Logistics

Thorough planning is vital. This includes route planning, understanding the weather patterns, arranging supply points, and preparing for contingencies. DeSanctis’ journey was marked by meticulous planning, an aspect crucial for any solo hiker.

Key aspects of planning for a solo hiking adventure:

  1. Route Planning: Research and plan your route thoroughly. Understand the terrain, water sources, and potential hazards.
  2. Weather Awareness: Stay updated on weather forecasts. Be prepared for sudden changes in weather conditions.
  3. Supply Points: Plan where you’ll restock on food and water. Ensure you have enough supplies for emergencies.
  4. Emergency Plan: Always have a detailed emergency plan. Share your itinerary and expected return date with a trusted person.

Lessons Learned

DeSanctis’ adventure teaches that solo hiking is more than a physical challenge; it’s a journey of personal growth and resilience. Her experiences serve as a guide for those seeking to embark on their solo hiking adventures.


Briana DeSanctis’ solo hike across the ADT is a testament to the power of human endurance and the beauty of solitary exploration. Her journey, as narrated by Carey Kish, offers valuable lessons for solo hikers, highlighting the importance of physical preparation, mental strength, emotional resilience, and respect for the environment. Solo hiking, as seen through her experience, is not just a journey across landscapes, but a profound journey within.

This article draws inspiration from Carey Kish’s detailed account of Briana DeSanctis’ solo hike, providing a comprehensive understanding of the solo hiking experience. For a deeper dive into DeSanctis’ journey and more of Carey Kish’s outdoor adventures, explore his works including “Beer Hiking New England” and “AMC’s Best Day Hikes Along the Maine Coast.”

Raphael Dume
Raphael Dume

Raphael Dume, bestselling author and internet entrepreneur, is the visionary behind OutdoorDoer.com. He developed this platform to inspire and educate outdoor enthusiasts. OutdoorDoer.com, driven by a team of experts, offers accurate, insightful content and resources for adventurers of all levels. The site is a trusted guide for outdoor tips, gear reviews, and experiences, reflecting Raphael's passion for the outdoors and commitment to fostering a community of nature lovers.

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