I remember one specific occasion, sitting in a dirt ditch, absorbing the sun and waiting for a bus to pick me up when one of those moments of pure self-satisfaction set in. The previous couple of days had embodied my ideal of solo travel, having not seen anyone for at least that long and subjecting myself to the tumultuous on-again, off-again Patagonian weather. I had just wrapped up backpacking the seldom travelled Mirador Zapata trail in the Torres Del Paine when a red fox decided to investigate my situation. He was wisely cautious but not very shy as is often the case with wildlife in the parks. I'm sure he expected me to throw him a morsel of food since that is the evolution of the national park sycophant (both parties being one, of course). For my part, I desired a stolen moment with nature and for the fox, he craved something sweet and so we both acquiesced. With Los Cuernos on the distant horizon and just me and the fox sitting there, I became ever more present in the salience of being alone.
Setting off on one's own excursion certainly has its rewards but likewise it has its pitfalls. Recently I realized that one of the unintended consequences is that people assume you always want to do things on your own which simply isn't true. It just works out that way. Another big drawback of "going solo" is that you sacrifice building some of those meaningful connections in life that are so necessary in finding happiness. Unfortunately, this lesson only becomes obvious when you are in need of help. When things are going well on your own it is all too easy to revel in your ability but when things aren't going so great, well, frankly the weight of the situation can be unbearable.
Does it build character to go it alone when things get rough? Who knows. I'll tell you if I figure it out.
Old post on the same topic. Going Solo