Women Backpackers | High Sierra Topix  

Women Backpackers

Grab your bear can or camp chair, kick your feet up and chew the fat about anything Sierra Nevada related that doesn't quite fit in any of the other forums. Within reason, (and the HST rules and guidelines) this is also an anything goes forum. Tell stories, discuss wilderness issues, music, or whatever else the High Sierra stirs up in your mind.
User avatar

Women Backpackers

Postby maverick » Thu Mar 10, 2011 3:20 pm

Do you backpack solo or with a friend/friends?
If solo, how did you evolve to the point of going solo? And if with friends, have
you thought about backpacking solo?
Have you ever been harassed by male backpacker/backpackers in the back country?
This can be an issue as I have heard from a few female backpacking friends of mine.
Has any male backpacker here every notice a female backpacker being harassed by
one or a group of male backpackers? Did you intervene?
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org



User avatar
maverick
Forums Moderator
Forums Moderator
 
Posts: 8039
Joined: Thu Apr 06, 2006 5:54 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Women Backpackers

Postby AlmostThere » Thu Mar 10, 2011 4:17 pm

maverick wrote:Do you backpack solo or with a friend/friends?
If solo, how did you evolve to the point of going solo? And if with friends, have
you thought about backpacking solo?
Have you ever been harassed by male backpacker/backpackers in the back country?
This can be an issue as I have heard from a few female backpacking friends of mine.
Has any male backpacker here every notice a female backpacker being harassed by
one or a group of male backpackers? Did you intervene?


Both.
I started solo, realized I wasn't ready yet, and am now getting back to going solo, because I have developed the comfort level I needed to do that.
No.
n/a

Other women I know have expressed concerns about going solo, but I don't share them. Maybe that's got to do with where I hike.
User avatar
AlmostThere
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1762
Joined: Wed Jun 24, 2009 4:38 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Women Backpackers

Postby Wandering Daisy » Thu Mar 10, 2011 7:42 pm

I primarily did mountaineering for the first 30 years of my outdoor pursuits so did not solo, because I needed a belay partner! I was trained in "old school" mountaineering tradition - solo was considered unsafe for anyone. I started to dabble in soloing in the early 1980's. Then for a few years, my children became old enough that I could threaten to hold their college money if they did not go with me! The last few years I have done a lot more soloing because I have transitioned from climbing to backpacking and a lot of my outdoor partners, male and female, have "aged" out of the sport. Although I solo, I firmly believe it is not as safe as going with others. I accept this added risk, otherwise I would go out half as much.

I do not have doubts about my outdoor competence. I was a course leader for NOLS for seven years. I have had extensive formal training and lots of experince in many mountain ranges.

I have been "patronized" by plenty of men backpacking, but never harrassed. I do a lot of off-trail and honestly may only see a few people at all. The unsolisited advise is meant in kindness so I do not take offense, even though I probably am the one who should be giving them advise!
User avatar
Wandering Daisy
Topix Junkie
 
Posts: 2608
Joined: Sun Jan 24, 2010 8:19 pm
Location: Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento area)
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Women Backpackers

Postby maverick » Thu Mar 10, 2011 8:09 pm

Thank you, to the both of you for chiming in.
It is too bad we do not have more female backpacking members, I think it would
add a lot more to the discussions, and add more flavor to the boards.
Things seem a little one sided, jaded coming from the male point of view, most of the time.
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
User avatar
maverick
Forums Moderator
Forums Moderator
 
Posts: 8039
Joined: Thu Apr 06, 2006 5:54 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Women Backpackers

Postby rlown » Thu Mar 10, 2011 11:26 pm

I ran into a rather large group of college age women coming up Rafferty in '08. there were 6 on the left and 9 on the right as we were headed out. I'm guessing some college class, as it was late Sept. It was rather refreshing to see them, other than how amazingly dirty we were after 7 days. None of them had fishing rods..
User avatar
rlown
Topix Junkie
 
Posts: 5350
Joined: Thu Oct 25, 2007 5:00 pm
Location: Petaluma and Wilton, CA
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Women Backpackers

Postby Wandering Daisy » Fri Mar 11, 2011 10:48 am

rlown- I also ran into a large group on the JMT in LeConte Canyon this summer. They told me the name of the organization but I cannot recall. Evidently it is an all-women commercial outfitting-outdoor school type of organization. To "pass" this group was like a slow one-by-one passing on a a two-lane road! Nobody ever looks behind them! It took a lot of "excuse-me's" to pass. I also think there are more internet all-women groups who get together more casually.

There is a lot of value for women to go it alone while learning outdoor skills. We unconciously fall into role models - with the guy doing more route-finding, map reading, setting up tents etc and more women the cooking. Men have an inborn habit of trying to "rescue" women if they show the slightest discomfort with learning a new skill. Dividing chores based on who does them the best is not bad if you are all experienced, but everyone needs to learn the basic skills and be allowed to make mistakes - both female and male. And for women it has a lot to do with confidence - we were not raised to feel confident in the outdoors or alone. Women's first experiences HAVE TO build confidence or they will not repeat the activity. Many women tend to have a different style of learning than men. For example, I teach more visualization and intuitive map reading than mathamatical methods.

There is a lot of misconception about "discomfort" of backpacking. Men seem to revel in over-exaggeration of the "toughness" of backpacking. "I carried this 70-pound pack" stuff! Why in the world do you have to carry 70 pounds? Since most backpacking information and stories are written by men, this perception persists. I do 10 days on 35 pounds and I am not even in the "utra-light" range. This "macho" probably turns off women. Women will get to the "tough" trips on their own schedule, in their own sweet time, as they gain confidence and seek more challenge.

My message to women is that you can backpack in confidence, cleanliness and comfort . And if you want to use makeup- what the hell - just do it - not much different than putting on sunscreen. I met a PCT through-hiker who wore a purple tutu over tights and head tied in a tie-die silk scarf! And if you like to shower every day- bring a solar shower. And if you would rather take breaks to sit in teh wildflowers instead of seeing how many miles you can travel, plan that into your trip. What on the surface seems to be a sacrafice really is simplification and adaptation. After all, women throughout history have been the "adapters" as they have torn up roots and followed men's moves.
User avatar
Wandering Daisy
Topix Junkie
 
Posts: 2608
Joined: Sun Jan 24, 2010 8:19 pm
Location: Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento area)
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Women Backpackers

Postby balzaccom » Fri Mar 11, 2011 9:18 pm

I'll answer here for my wife, who doesn't participate in these boards...

She only backpacks with me (and sometimes additional people) and is not interested in solo hikes, for many reasons.

And she's never been harassed by anyone but me in the back country...

But she's been harassed by me for 35 years now, and is pretty much used to it. :^)

Nor have I ever seen anyone being harassed...and yes, I would certainly step in if I did see it.

Along these lines, I was once told a very funny story by a group of women who had been backpacking in Kings Canyon--six of eight of them in a group. A solo male hiker meets the groups, then comes over to join them around the campfire that evening.

"So," he says to the eight women in front of him. "Are you guys all alone?"

He didn't last long.
Balzaccom

check out our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
User avatar
balzaccom
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1291
Joined: Wed Dec 17, 2008 9:22 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Women Backpackers

Postby mokelumnekid » Sat Mar 12, 2011 1:42 am

I've backpacked plenty solo but prefer company. My wife is very athletic (there is a picture of her on page 5 of the 'Show Yourself' discussion in this forum) and is up for anything I think I can handle and more. At the end of a long day she is typically doing better than I am. I don't ever recall harassment in the back country. In front country car campgrounds, especially party spots on the west side, anything can happen.

She is also up for scrambling and climbing, the perfect backpacking partner except that her sense of direction is not great, so I have to kind of keep an eye on her if we come to a place where there are merging trails and we aren't hiking closely together.
User avatar
mokelumnekid
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 446
Joined: Mon Sep 22, 2008 4:45 pm
Location: Seattle
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Women Backpackers

Postby giantbrookie » Sat Mar 12, 2011 11:36 am

I have to answer for my wife, who is hands down my no. 1 backpacking partner but who doesn't post here. I don't believe she has ever been bothered by anyone except me on her trips. She is an exceptionally strong hiker in spite of her tiny stature (weighs in low 90's and has carried up to 45lbs). She is not really athletic but she has heart and perseverance of a warrior--the warrior spirit burns much more strongly in her than me, in fact. Her sense of direction is not too good, so I do have to keep an eye on her, as she has taken the wrong trail fork and has also wandered off those drainage-induced false trails off of the ends of switchbacks (so have we all, but Judy doesn't self correct that easily after having done this). Because of this Judy never considered backpacking or hiking solo. She had minimal hiking experience before we met, but she very soon ramped up to difficult trips and made the high country a priority item during the months that the high lakes are thawed. She has a very interesting take on what many consider to be a major gender difference in the backcountry--the relative convenience of taking a pee. Whereas many women will note the apparent male advantage for simply turning and firing, Judy has stated that she will not be disadvantaged by this and she will squat and drop anywhere, using a lot less cover than I do.

Judy is supremely competitive when it comes to other women in the backcountry. Be it on trail or off, she will turn it up several notches if other women are hiking on the trail or on the same route. One of the more amusing incidents in this regard came on a backpacking move from Martha Lake to the Evolution area. We took a break and fished (without success, unfortunately) at Davis Lake and while there two women came by with backpacks. They mentioned that they were headed for Evolution. Upon finding we were apparently headed that way, they asked where we intended to stay. Judy shot back a terse reply (I had the good sense not to be involved in the conversation at all) that we had no idea where we would camp (not true, for we had long before planned to make camp at the lake btw Sapphire and Wanda) because the plans for the rest of the day were up in the air. We continued to fish and the two women reshouldered their packs and headed the divide that separates this basin from Evolution. After giving up our apparently fruitless fishing session, we too packed up and headed for the divide. Now the first part of the ascent involved some big talus boulder hopping and this is the one sort of off trail hiking that Judy detests and she normally moves quite slowly. This time was an exception and she hopped over the boulders with speed not remotely approached before or since. We caught up with and flew past the two hikers and they soon faded to two tiny colored dots far behind; we did not see them again.
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
User avatar
giantbrookie
Founding Member & Forums Moderator
Founding Member & Forums Moderator
 
Posts: 2439
Joined: Wed Dec 28, 2005 10:22 am
Location: Fresno
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Women Backpackers

Postby rlown » Sat Mar 12, 2011 8:21 pm

so, why don't more women participate in this forum? It seems like we have about 5 now who are active.. out of 1700 registered, that just feels wrong.
User avatar
rlown
Topix Junkie
 
Posts: 5350
Joined: Thu Oct 25, 2007 5:00 pm
Location: Petaluma and Wilton, CA
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Women Backpackers

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sat Mar 12, 2011 9:11 pm

More women do not participate because there is not a critical mass yet. Sort of a chicken and egg problem. The posts are so overwhelmingly male oriented that women backpackers may be turned off. One thing that I wonder is why a lot of you guys talk about your wives backpacking, yet THEY do not post here. Why? You speaking for them seems a bit chauvinistic to me. Ask THEM why they do not post.
User avatar
Wandering Daisy
Topix Junkie
 
Posts: 2608
Joined: Sun Jan 24, 2010 8:19 pm
Location: Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento area)
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Women Backpackers

Postby rlown » Sat Mar 12, 2011 9:14 pm

Wandering Daisy wrote:More women do not participate because there is not a critical mass yet. Sort of a chicken and egg problem. The posts are so overwhelmingly male oriented that women backpackers may be turned off. One thing that I wonder is why a lot of you guys talk about your wives backpacking, yet THEY do not post here. Why? You speaking for them seems a bit chauvinistic to me. Ask THEM why they do not post.


kinda what i was getting at. Thanks, WD. btw, my wife does not backpack. Hence, when i go it's only with guy friends.
User avatar
rlown
Topix Junkie
 
Posts: 5350
Joined: Thu Oct 25, 2007 5:00 pm
Location: Petaluma and Wilton, CA
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

Next

Return to The Campfire



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests