I have heard reports of bears and panthers (yes, panthers in upstate New York) in areas around where I want to solo hike this summer. Should I be concerned? Is it okay to go solo?
Submitted by - Don, Rochester, NY
Yes, reports of animals large and strong enough, and potentially hungry enough, to eat you where you plan to hike solo should cause concern. There is definitely safety in numbers. Hiking with two or more other backpackers reduces the risk considerably.
But "Is it okay to go solo?" is a different question. That's up to you. I'd check with local land management offices to see if bear and mountain lion attacks have occurred, and when. I almost always prefer what makes me feel the safest.