OUT THERE - A Phenomenological Approach to Solo-Hiking in Northern Scandinavia

University essay from Umeå universitet/Kulturgeografi


Every summer solo-hikers roam the wilderness in northern Scandinavia; across mountains and rivers; they are in awe of the nature. This thesis explores the question: What do they seek out there? It uncovers their aspirations and experiences with a phenomenological research approach. Sixteen solo-hikers were interviewed in-situ (northern Scandinavia, June to August 2014) to gain immediate insights into the phenomenon. The analysis derived four major experiential themes from their narratives: the solo, the nature, the physical and the inner experience. Accordingly, the solo-hikers seek an individual mixture of experiences often linked to their personal life-paths. The study suggests that the solo-hike is both a journey of distance and closeness. The individuals seek (a perceived, not spatial) distance to common life-spaces and make sense of wilderness as a place that is away. However, they speak about the solo-hike as an experience of closeness to their inner selves. The thesis links to key concepts in human geography (such as place, identity) and central discussions in tourism studies (e.g. solo-travel, travel motivations). Ultimately, it also offers a thorough theoretical discussion of adopting phenomenology in human geography.

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