I did some hikes in the past but I'm way from calling myself experienced. Now, since I live in an awesome region surrounded by Alps, I decided to take a "one hike a week challenge", hiking mostly alone. The hikes are currently one day hikes.
Now, it is worth mentioning that I am not very fit, so it is a bit painful (especially afterwards) and I am not very fast. I'm fine with that, I can see a bit of progress since I started.
My problem is that I am afraid of heights. So walking near a cliff is really hard for me. I do it, but it takes an awful lot of thinking and convincing myself about things. Also, watching somebody do it gives me a lot more confidence.
Because of my fear, today I got stuck at some point. There was quite a steep upwards trail for just a few meters near a cliff, covered with gravel. I took the hardest route possible (near the wall next to the trail), and I got stuck to the ground. Obviously, it was possible to get up. I gave up thinking about a solution when I saw somebody behind me, waited a bit and asked for help. He helped me get on my feet, but besides that I just went up behind him (not exactly following the footsteps).
Now, up until there I was really afraid of even having a look at the awesome view behind. When we returned, I simply followed his steps on the side of the cliff.
We split paths at some point but, for the rest of the hike, I could handle myself. I actually went down ok, without being scared any more (on the same route).
Now, it is obvious that just the presence of someone boosted my confidence. Also, I was much faster with him than alone, and not much more tired. And also the lack of my fear helped me made better decision as in "follow the easiest route, not the route as far away from the cliff as possible".
Since I have to go by myself most of the time (didn't find anyone willing to do this much hiking), do you have any tips for gaining more confidence, controlling the fear and getting faster while alone?