I STOPPED HIKING THE PCT BECAUSE OF TOXIC MA

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Hobbes
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I STOPPED HIKING THE PCT BECAUSE OF TOXIC MA

Post by Hobbes » Mon Feb 05, 2018 5:14 pm

I guess it was inevitable that the growth of social media would create a counter-narrative:

I STOPPED HIKING THE PACIFIC CREST TRAIL BECAUSE OF TOXIC MASCULINITY AND I FINALLY WROTE AN ESSAY ABOUT IT

I stopped hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in 2017 because of toxic masculinity and bro culture in the hiking community. It exists, it’s shitty, and it fvcked me up.

We live in a racist homophobic transphobic fatphobic classist fvcked up patriarchal society. To think we can run away to the woods – a place that is touted as “America’s Playground” but in actuality is only accessible to those with the right color skin, the right amount of money, the right physical shape – and somehow escape the oppressions that are wound tightly into the fabric of American life and have a utopian community where everyone feels safe is ignorant at best, toxic at worst. Most of the language we use to describe our “playground,” which truthfully is stolen land from Native American tribes, is racist: talking about “bagging peaks” or “conquering mountains” is as much part of the problem as anything else. It’s not about just one bad man or a couple of jerks, it’s about the entire culture. We all have work to do.

https://vanessapamela.com/2018/02/05/i- ... -about-it/

I'm curious what the ladies think; I'll leave it that the ones @ HST seem to be pretty kick-ass.








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Re: I STOPPED HIKING THE PCT BECAUSE OF TOXIC MA

Post by TahoeJeff » Mon Feb 05, 2018 5:25 pm

How the author describers herself:

Hi! I’m Vanessa. I’m a 29 year old queer feminist writer and photographer based in Portland, OR. I write about hiking, travel, queer community, and My Feelings.
“Those who desire to give up freedom in order to gain security will not have either one.”

Benjamin Franklin

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Re: I STOPPED HIKING THE PCT BECAUSE OF TOXIC MA

Post by Wandering Daisy » Mon Feb 05, 2018 5:50 pm

Of course our "culture" does not go away just because we backpack. I am sure there are plenty of such described jerks out there. But stereotyping is wrong no matter how you dice it. There are also some awesome female PCT hikers, some loving couples, some non-macho guys, some true eccentrics. The typical PCT hiker is younger so from my perspective of an older person, many are a bit too enamored with their electronic toys and blogs and too much partying. Regardless of the "culture" saying it is the reason you quit the PCT is simply a scapegoat for not completing the trail because of your own issues. Sounds like sour grapes to me.

As an example of all types of PCT hikers, I picked up a Native American PCT hiker last summer. He is doing the PCT in sections, as he has money to do it. A long term project for him. Ran out of money and was going home until he could save up more. He told me backpacking saved him after years of substance abuse. No excuses for his past habits- owned up to it.

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Re: I STOPPED HIKING THE PCT BECAUSE OF TOXIC MA

Post by Hobbes » Mon Feb 05, 2018 6:24 pm

My general observation is if the author thinks the hiking community is judgmental, then she would be left in a catatonic state if exposed to other, much more competitive activities.

My direct experience is surfing, but Roper's book about the Camp 4 climbing rivalries seemed fairly similar. That is, if you're not considered up to snuff, you will he hazed and driven out of water aka known as 'regulating the line-up.' Skiing seems pretty democratic, yet I recall seeing the movie https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eddie_the_Eagle_(film) that illustrated the group inclusion/rejection mechanism. To me, it appeared perfectly normal, so I'm probably not the best judge of whether standard setting cliques are acting appropriately.

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Re: I STOPPED HIKING THE PCT BECAUSE OF TOXIC MA

Post by balzaccom » Mon Feb 05, 2018 7:34 pm

My wife doesn't post here, but I sometimes share her perceptions with you all---albeit imperfectly. She hikes with me, not alone, so her experiences are certain to be different from those of a solo female hiker, and certainly different from a solo female hiker under 30.

That said, we sometimes find ourselves on a trail with a few members of the male gender who are more or less OK with the fact that I am going to hike past them, But when they see my wife coming, it's a whole 'nother story. They will kill themselves to stay ahead a her, even trying to sprint up the trail, only to collapse in gasping exhaustion, But when they see her steadily hiking along behind them, closing the gap, off they go again.

My wife isn't much for conversation on the trail, so other than a short hello, she is not likely to experience long monologues from other hikers. But we do sometimes run into people who really do want to tell us how they are pushing the envelope beyond what the rest of us mere mortals are capable of doing. Those people are always men. And often, they are wrong....grin. We see them later!

I would note that I have now read her entire article, not just the except linked here. It is thoughtful and heartfelt. I have not experienced some of what she did, but I don't doubt that she is writing truthfully about her experience.
Balzaccom

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Re: I STOPPED HIKING THE PCT BECAUSE OF TOXIC MA

Post by mahjzha » Mon Feb 05, 2018 7:59 pm

Ha! One of the best perks of getting older is that you no longer care what other people think about you (or think at all)!! As an older, female backpacker I often get questions/looks because I am hiking solo. It doesn't really bother me, because I am doing what I love to do in one of the most beautiful places in the country! You can always find something to get offended about if you try. My feelings are "it's not worth the energy, so why bother"?!!!!

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Re: I STOPPED HIKING THE PCT BECAUSE OF TOXIC MA

Post by dave54 » Mon Feb 05, 2018 8:00 pm

We see in others the faults we fear of ourselves.
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Log off and get outdoors!
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Re: I STOPPED HIKING THE PCT BECAUSE OF TOXIC MA

Post by TahoeJeff » Mon Feb 05, 2018 9:05 pm

balzaccom wrote:thoughtful and heartfelt...her experience.
Yep, just like all the other whiney snowflakes out there.
mahjzha wrote: You can always find something to get offended about if you try. My feelings are "it's not worth the energy, so why bother"?!!!!
Absolutely! The author went out on the PCT looking for something to complain about and share with the internet, and of course she found it...
“Those who desire to give up freedom in order to gain security will not have either one.”

Benjamin Franklin

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Re: I STOPPED HIKING THE PCT BECAUSE OF TOXIC MA

Post by Wandering Daisy » Mon Feb 05, 2018 9:09 pm

Balzaccom-I read the entire blog too. She is writing HER perception of the "truth" on the trail. I do not doubt she felt this way. Everyone, particularly minorities, bring their emotional baggage with them on the trail. Everyone has prejudices and the trail just intensifies this. It takes a lot of mental toughness to do the PCT. Not just her, but everyone who hopes to finish has to "compete" with the trail. It simply takes a degree of competitiveness to complete the PCT. If you were to slow down and spend too much time being "touchy-feely" with everyone on the trail who has any emotional need, you would deplete your own emotional resources. I read a lot of the PCT journals, and the successful ones are upbeat throughout, regardless of outside influences. You simply have to have pretty tough skin, both with what nature throws at you, and other people. And there is no need to be clumped up with everyone - hike your own hike.

My "truth" is 180-degrees from her. Yes, I have run into the occasional jerk but it simply does not bother me. Now creepy guys and gun-toting survivalists do, but I rarely find these on the trail. I too feel the competition- you bet I speed up a bit too when someone is on my tail! I probably have a lot of "macho" traits myself. Socializing on the trail with other backpackers is optional. I do very little of it myself; I need very little of it. As for being given advise from men, well, backpackers ARE mostly men, definitely over-represented so seem to be all the "advise givers"! I do not take it as condesending- most simply are thrilled with their own "expertise" and want to show it off, and think they are being helpful. And yes, I look like some little old lost street lady who actually needs advise! LOL. If I were to do the PCT, I would not start with any expectations of a "trail family". I really do not fit in with the younger crowd anyway.

By the way, I cannot stand Sheryl Straid's writing. Also did not appreciate Bill Bryson (I think the name is correct?) who wrote about the App. Tr. (also did not finish).

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Re: I STOPPED HIKING THE PCT BECAUSE OF TOXIC MA

Post by markskor » Tue Feb 06, 2018 12:26 am

Wandering Daisy wrote: It takes a lot of mental toughness to do the PCT. The successful ones are upbeat throughout, regardless of outside influences. You simply have to have pretty tough skin, both with what nature throws at you, and other people... and not start with any expectations of a "trail family".
Agree with Daisy above...thru hiking is as much a mental exercise as it is as a physical one...you have to want it bad - daily. Those who are successful (sex does not matter) must possess a certain mental acumen - (hard to describe but easy to recognize) - a blend of foolish determination and upbeat whimsy necessary to overcome all the trail BS. Additionally, you have to be physically trail-capable. 42 miles in 4 days over flat desert just ain't gonna cut it.

One paragraph into this author's diatribe - no matter how much she complains that it wasn't her fault - (Wouldn't tell her to her face, but) she doesn't have it. Working summers up in Tuolumne, you can see those that do...and even at that, most still won't finish due to any number of valid reasons, (and not due to treatment from fellow hikers) - injury, gear problems, lack of funds, time constraints, etc. (I didn't finish due to the damn Oregon rain.)

She now so easily blames everybody and everything else for her failure, but the fact is, she was not prepared, either mentally or physically. BTW, in regard to the expected "trail family" mindset so prevalent on the trail, she would be hard to hike with because of her whiny attitude. Congrats to her for doing ~500 miles though - indeed a noble distance, but she never exhibits the most important "can dish it out as well as take it" mentality that is needed for such a journey.
just my 2¢
Mountainman who swims with trout

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