my first time hiking alone (with extreme selfie tips)

My mini-project: getting out of comfort zone

So I have been doing little projects here and there recently because I’m in a semester break. Check out what I’m up to now here if you are interested in following my progress. Besides massive learning sessions I do by default if I don’t have appointments or events for the day, one of my goals on the list is to actually get out of comfort zone as much as I can. Now this is a broad topic that means different things to different people. I still find it extremely hard to start a conversation with strangers, let alone doing any comfort challenges listed in the 4-Hour Work Week. That being said, there still a lot of things I can improve on. While I spend 95% of my time alone now with the lockdown in Sydney gradually being lifted, I decided to try things that I have never done before.

This week I went to a boxing class first time in my life since I wanted to find the type of workout I actually would enjoy doing while learning some self defense skills. And it turned out to be so awesome I have decided to commit to it. Then I checked the weather forecast and decided to go hiking alone last Friday. The original plan was to go somewhere away from the city and film some handpan videos (check out my YouTube channel if you want to watch my handpan covers) in the mountains or along the lake. But the microphone I bought from Amazon hadn’t arrived yet so I ditched the plan and just went for hiking. Now I need to tell you that I don’t consider myself a physically active person. I think I have hated working out most of my life. Later I came to realise that it’s not because I hate working out, but because I haven’t found the type of workout I enjoy doing. Anyway, given my really limited hiking experience, I picked Ku-Ring-Gai National Park, somewhere not far away from where I live and I did my research. I read through the official website about difficulty levels of different tracks, which part is closed etc. Have I mentioned that I suck at reading or following maps? I was a bit nervous before my journey knowing I would be alone and there was definitely no signal. But screw it, I am gonna go anyway.

There were three objectives I set for the day:

  1. try to start a conversation with a stranger
  2. enjoy the hike & relax
  3. get inspiration for song composition

Check out some official info here about the National Park if you’re interested:

Gears I brought

Before telling you what happened in the day, I thought I would show you guys what I brought with me. They were not really related to hiking:

  1. iPhone 11
  2. JOBY GorillaPod 3K Kit. Compact Tripod
  3. Sony a7iii
  4. Apple Airpods Pro
  5. Water bottle
  6. Snacks
  7. iPad air

If you are going to anywhere in the nature alone and you want to document the journey either through taking photos or vlogging, you NEED light equipments. The first two items were non-negotiables for me. I would totally suggest you to get a good quality hand grip since you’re out in the wild and you don’t want to lose your phone and camera. I will show you how I took selfies. Read on.

The journey of hiking alone

After nearly an hour-long drive I arrived Cottage Point – a place near the national park with some cafes. It was past noon when I arrived so I stopped by a kiosk, got some food, sat down and started typing away my feelings on my iPad. Yes I carried my iPad everywhere. It was a complete game changer since I bought the ipad keyboard. By that time I lost signal already so I could only follow the road signs and finally got to the entrance of the national park.

You need to pay entrance fee to get into Ku-Ring-Gai National Park. When I reached the gate and paid, the lady kindly gave me a map of the whole park and all the trails. She’s a life saver. I already had the desination in mind so she asked me to keep driving for another 9km or so. And the journey was smooth. The hiking part finally started after I parked my car.

According to the map it said the America Bay track I chose, was a 1km walk with some difficult parts. It didn’t faze me at the slightest. I started walking and along the way I saw some families coming from the opposite direction. If kids and toddlers could do that, how hard can that be? I walked without my earphones. I used to be someone who couldn’t go anywhere without earphones but recently I wanted to ditch that habit and be more mindful about the environment around me and my thoughts. The sign at the entrance of the trail said there was a waterfall so I paid attention to all the sounds around me. The path was alright. Occasionally there was sticky mud so I needed to be careful not to slip. I chose to hike on a Friday because I was worried it would be crowded on the weekends and since I was in holiday already, weekdays and weekends didn’t make any difference. Weather was the only critical factor. And as I expected there were not many people and I felt so peaceful. Around the middle of the journey there was a young woman coming from the opposite direction. I smiled while I moved to the side to let her pass first. She smiled back and said “Hey” to me. I took the opportunity to start a conversation by asking if my remaining journey would be easy or not, was there really a waterfall and so on. She was very nice and she assured me there was only around 10 minutes left until I see the waterfall but there wasn’t much water. I said thanks and carried on, knowing my first two objectives for the day were fulfilled.

But it took more than 10 minutes. I did hear water nearby and I did see a weak waterfall flowing, but I believed that was not the end of the trail. So I kept walking and following whatever path was presented to me. I trusted my instinct. I chose this track because I wanted to get to the very edge and look at the America Bay and I knew I wasn’t there yet. Finally, I reached a sign saying dangerous and the bay is closed. But there was another path not blocked by the sign so I walked in.

And I saw it.

A waterfall, and a great view looking over America Bay.

A wave of satisfaction surged within me.

This was the moment I was waiting for!

Then the next challenge came: how could I take a great picture of myself with the scene, when there was no one else with me?

The extreme selfie level

First thing first: utilise all the resources available to you.

It doesn’t really matter if you can’t afford fancy gear or whatever. The seemingly lack of resources actually stimulates your creativity to make something happen with what you already have.

I looked around. I could either place my hand grip on the ground as a tripod and set timer on my phone. But ground level would be too low to capture the bay in front of me.

I kept looking. Then I saw a tree with branches just below the eye level. Perfect. That would do.

Now this is the reason why I mentioned you should invest in a good quality hand grip, or tripod: you put 100% confidence on it without worrying it would fall onto the ground, face down, or drop into the ocean.

This is the photo I took with my iphone 11, 10s timer (#nofiler):

This is the behind-the-scenes: tripod on a tree with a firm grip:

Life is awesome.

Experiment with different angels if the environment is safe. I was pretty happy with my photo so I called it a day.

Final thoughts

When I walked back to my car I was actually comparing the things I would, or I could do when I was alone with when I was with someone. I definitely would be less bored – considering talking to someone when we were hiking; and less adventurous maybe, given that we could take pictures for each other. But hiking alone indeed was a new experience for me and I took creativity and my selfie skills to the next level. I learnt more about myself. I enjoyed spending time myself in the nature. It was different from having someone besides you. While it is not healthy doing everything by myself, it was a valuable experience I wouldn’t have gained it in other ways.

Let me know if you have enjoyed this blog post! Also feel free to ask me any questions about the equipments I used, or how to take better photos etc. since I would really like to help you by sharing whatever I know 😊