Do You Have a Difficult Time Finding Hiking Partners?

It’s always a good idea to hike with someone.  Twitter newsfeeds lit up a few weeks ago with the last account of Ms. Largay, the thru-hiker lost in Maine.  I cannot watch the movie, 127 Hours, where a guy must perform surgery on himself to return home.  The Boy Scouts of America encourages the use of the buddy system.  What do you do when you cannot find a hiking buddy?  Stay at home?

Years ago, I maintained a list of eight friends who were enthusiastic about my section hikes of the Appalachian Trail.  They were always eager to hear about my backpacking trips.  Each would ask to me to let him know when I was headed back to the trail.  Unfortunately, none on the list was ever able to join me.  The thought of backpacking the world-famous Appalachian Trail seemed to be more attractive than actually walking it.

Most of my backpacking adventures are solo.  I’ve asked friends to join me for a week or a few days on the trail.  One would join me for a week here, another for a weekend there.  I’ve heard all sorts of reasons why a person could not go backpacking --

  • My spouse won’t let me leave for a few days
  • I don’t have the vacation time
  • I can’t spend one week of my two weeks’ annual vacation time away from my spouse
  • I won’t be able to keep up with you (and I don’t feel like training)
  • I’ve never walked 100 miles in a week
  • I don’t have the right equipment

During a section hike in Shenandoah National Park, I found a small group of hikers who belonged to a hiking club.  The members of this club assemble once a month for a weekend hike.  I was immediately interested.  I walked with a couple of members and asked a few questions.  My interest ended abruptly when they appeared to be more enthusiastic about the beer drinking on the bus ride home than walking trails. 

What has been your experience with finding a hiking buddy?  How have you found success?