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Women Hikers!

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Re: Women Hikers!

Postby Jimr » Mon Jan 05, 2015 1:08 pm

The greatest fear men have regarding women is they will be rejected. The greatest fear women have regarding men is they will be killed.
What?!



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Re: Women Hikers!

Postby Wandering Daisy » Mon Jan 05, 2015 8:20 pm

I have had a lot of women tell me that they day hike because they want to get clean and have that hot shower at the end of each day. I just have to convince them that they can still be clean if willing to jump in a cold lake at the end of the day. Some do very athletic day hikes but do not want to stay overnight. Some feel vulnerable in a tent - want a hard sided shelter against the elements. I really have not had many women say they fear men. Sorry guys, bears are more scary.

Not sure if it had much to do with my outdoor comfort, but I grew up in an age before air conditioning. We slept in the back yard all summer long because the house was just too hot. No tent, just "cowboy camping". It seemed so normal. And maybe it is just false memory of childhood but I swear that the stars were brighter and closer than now.

My Mom grew up on a farm and loved the outdoors. Getting dirty in the garden was normal. We would get hosed down before we were allowed inside.

My childhood was also an age of less "parenting". We would regularly be booted out of the house to play only to come in for lunch and dinner. You had to totally behave inside a house - so any running, jumping, yelling, laughing, silly giggling- to be done outdoors. I babysit my grandkids; and it is not like that nowadays. Oh, also we did not even have a TV until I was nearly in High School.

All in all it added up more hours spent outdoors than inside. The outdoors never were scary. I always wonder if I would feel the same if I were raised in a more indoor-oriented family.

By the way, I took my girls backpacking all the time they were growing up. They are not as into backpacking or the outdoors as I am. I may have "over-saturated" them with backpacking too young.
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Re: Women Hikers!

Postby LMBSGV » Mon Jan 05, 2015 9:48 pm

By the way, I took my girls backpacking all the time they were growing up. They are not as into backpacking or the outdoors as I am. I may have "over-saturated" them with backpacking too young.

Going off topic a little here. My wife and wonder the same thing. We took our son on his first camping trip at 3 weeks old and first backpacking trip at 2 years. Along with it being our main recreational love, it was cheap and so nearly every overnight trip or vacation (except to visit relatives) until he was a college graduate was camping and/or backpacking. He always seemed to have a great time (and the family photos prove it) so we figured as an independent adult, he would want to continue going camping and backpacking. But he never goes camping and when we offered our equipment one time, he replied, “And sleep on the ground?”

Back to the topic: Over the years, I’ve run into lots of women solo hikers of various ages and, with one exception, they’ve all had that “aura” described by marksor. Like Rogue, I met one when I spent the night on Muir Pass. I let her sleep in the hut while I slept outside; she said I could sleep in the hut. It was my choice to sleep outside with the rainfly off to watch the stars since it was one of those magical post-storm clear nights.

However, most of the women I’ve run into are either half a couple or with a small group. A few times, I‘ve gotten talking to the couples or small groups and women will confess to a fear of men if they go solo, but then they say it in the context of my going solo so I think it’s not really a fear of men as much as going solo.
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Re: Women Hikers!

Postby giantbrookie » Tue Jan 06, 2015 11:03 am

Wandering Daisy wrote:By the way, I took my girls backpacking all the time they were growing up. They are not as into backpacking or the outdoors as I am. I may have "over-saturated" them with backpacking too young.

It is possible that my wife and I have been a bit too cautious about this and not taken our kids up enough. It is a bit too early to project our kids' likes and dislikes to adulthood, given that my daughter is 9 and my son is 12, but my daughter enjoys the high country much more than my son as of right now.

My daughter is not particularly focused on any one aspect of High Sierra hiking but she simply exudes the joy of being there. She doesn't really take the time to figure out fishing too much although she likes doing it and she doesn't put much thought into reading terrain, either. In keeping with her usual approach to athletic endeavors, off trail hiking for her is about brute force without finesse. She is the one member of the family who is always lobbying for more trips to the High Sierra. Of all the family members she is also the least bothered by being grimy and sweaty on the trail. My son is much more likely to wish for the shower back home.

My son is also very athletic, but he doesn't enjoy the overall High Sierra experience as much as my daughter. He loves high country fishing, though, and sees hiking as a means to reach that end. His fishing skill is pretty much equal to mine and my wife's, but he tends to be lazy about moving around a lakeshore to find sweet spots. His terrain reading skills are way above average, but his love of the high country is lukewarm in comparison to my daughter's.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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Re: Women Hikers!

Postby JWreno » Tue Jan 06, 2015 2:13 pm

I am fortunate the my 57 year old wife loves to backpack but doesn't care for the planning. Fortunately she does help dry the fruit and the jerky. I am happy to have a wife who will take 3 week trips with me. We would go longer but we aren't retired and eventually have to get back to work. We have seen a lot of older, sometimes retired people out on their own on the JMT. I don't see as many solo hikers once we leave the main trails.

I would like to do more side trips but I have to find a compromise to keep the off trail miles from intimidating my wife. She is a little nervous about cross-country routes over rough talus and areas with exposure. I enjoy the challenge but when doing that kind of travel it can be good to have a parter if things go bad. I have done a little bit of Rouper's Sierra High Route with her and would like to do the rest. She enjoyed the views but felt beat up by the difficult terrain.

I am a better hiker with my wife along. I tend to blow through the miles too quickly when hiking solo and having the trip end sooner than it needs to.
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Re: Women Hikers!

Postby Hobbes » Wed Jan 07, 2015 9:34 am

I usually don't get out for the season until early June. Typically, there's some snow left @ higher elevations even during drought years, so I tend to stick to trails and save any x-c travel for later trips during the summer. The last few years I've ended up going south bound, so I've been meeting the first wave of PCTers at junctions or portions of the trail itself.

IMO, that's the place to see a lot of solo female hikers in their native habitat. I have to confess that during my first encounter I did ask "you're out here alone"? In my defense, I was probably a little high from the altitude - I had just hit the trail from sea level 4-5 hours earlier. LOL.

Now, it's old hat - the total might even be 10-15%. In fact, after 700 miles, the ones who have made it that far are probably judging me as some kind of clean & soft "day hiker". Still, like most NOBOs, they're usually interested in information on passes, conditions, etc, so it's nice to chat for a few minutes. (I always let other hikers take the initiative - I tend to nod and blast past people, but if someone slows and looks like they'd like some input, I'll stop.)
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Re: Women Hikers!

Postby oleander » Wed Jan 07, 2015 12:46 pm

This summer, I met and got to know a woman who was hiking the length of the JMT by herself.

One thing she did share, is that everybody thought she must be with a group. "Hey, you're almost there...Your group is at the pass, just 10 minutes up!" (Referring to another group of women, up the ways a bit.) She said that was irritating to her. As were these very common questions:

"Oh my god...Are you out here ALONE!" (Usually followed by, "That's amazing!" - she found that mildly condescending - as if it would be a feat for a woman to accomplish the JMT alone, but not so much a feat for a man.)

Or:

"So you must have been inspired by Cheryl Strayed's book - Is that what got you out here?" This REALLY got her goat. She's been hiking for many years, long before the Strayed book came out.

I thought her experience was interesting, because people almost never say these things to me when I'm hiking solo. Maybe because I look a little older than her; and avoid the JMT Highway, where these sorts of questions and attitudes evidently pop up with some frequency.

I do really hate the occasional, "Good job!" That is something I expect someone to say to a child. When I hear it, it sounds like the person thinks I am on my first-ever hike, and therefore didn't expect me to...(fill in the blank: Hike so fast; hike effortlessly; hike so far; navigate off-trail; reach such a remote location; figure things out by myself).

The best compliment to a solo woman hiker is total nonchalance. Like, of course she is Superwoman...No comment necessary.

- Elizabeth
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Re: Women Hikers!

Postby Hobbes » Wed Jan 07, 2015 3:09 pm

oleander wrote:The best compliment to a solo woman hiker is total nonchalance. Like, of course she is Superwoman.


What about a slack-jaw when they find out about the Kona I-M? LOL
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Re: Women Hikers!

Postby KathyW » Wed Jan 07, 2015 4:14 pm

I'd prefer to be thought of as a backpacker and not a "female" backpacker. I've never been bothered by anyone in the wilderness and I'm solo most of the time.

I would find it annoying to have the word "woman" put in front of my title at work, and I see no need to have someone point out that I'm female when I'm backpacking.
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Re: Women Hikers!

Postby b_k » Wed Jan 07, 2015 4:36 pm

I usually backpack by myself because I have a flexible work schedule and few compatriots who can comfortably do the mileage I want to do. When I first started out about 6 years ago, I hiked more popular trails like the JMT, figuring they were a good way to ease in, with more potential support in case of an emergency. I'll never forgot the first night I camped without anyone else around- it's amazing what your mind can conjure up when you hear rustling in the dark.

My wintertime solution is snowcamping, because I can experience the mountains in a totally different way and not have to wait until the snow melts to put my pack back on. The SF Sierra Club chapter runs a training series (http://www.snowcamping.org/snowcamping) that I highly recommend. Otherwise, I run, swim and do long day hikes/overnights below the snow line.

I rarely meet other women hiking sola, but love trading notes when I do. Like how annoying is it when guys (mostly) on the trail assume you're not by yourself but just lagging behind a hiking partner!
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Re: Women Hikers!

Postby RoguePhotonic » Wed Jan 07, 2015 6:03 pm

The PCT is a bit different. Plenty of woman take to the trail solo but in cases of both men and woman few solo PCT hikers stay solo for very long. You end up meeting someone you get along with and hike the rest of the way together. I think the majority of the PCTers I meet have this same story.
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Re: Women Hikers!

Postby rlown » Wed Jan 07, 2015 8:36 pm

oleander wrote:This summer, I met and got to know a woman who was hiking the length of the JMT by herself.

One thing she did share, is that everybody thought she must be with a group. "Hey, you're almost there...Your group is at the pass, just 10 minutes up!" (Referring to another group of women, up the ways a bit.) She said that was irritating to her. As were these very common questions:

"Oh my god...Are you out here ALONE!" (Usually followed by, "That's amazing!" - she found that mildly condescending - as if it would be a feat for a woman to accomplish the JMT alone, but not so much a feat for a man.)

Or:

"So you must have been inspired by Cheryl Strayed's book - Is that what got you out here?" This REALLY got her goat. She's been hiking for many years, long before the Strayed book came out.

I thought her experience was interesting, because people almost never say these things to me when I'm hiking solo. Maybe because I look a little older than her; and avoid the JMT Highway, where these sorts of questions and attitudes evidently pop up with some frequency.

I do really hate the occasional, "Good job!" That is something I expect someone to say to a child. When I hear it, it sounds like the person thinks I am on my first-ever hike, and therefore didn't expect me to...(fill in the blank: Hike so fast; hike effortlessly; hike so far; navigate off-trail; reach such a remote location; figure things out by myself).

The best compliment to a solo woman hiker is total nonchalance. Like, of course she is Superwoman...No comment necessary.

- Elizabeth


I just say "hi." Not everyone on trail understands the equality. dunno why. Might depend on age and understanding. It's not a defamation, if someone says "good job." unless, Maybe they are just idiots. Don't assume we're all pigs. If you're out there and doing it, there is respect from those who know what it takes. Yep, those who are new, maybe pigs.
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