Silly Boys, Girls Hike Too
So far, I have gone a whole week on the trail without seeing another female thru-hiker (besides my mom). Now, this could be considered a very good thing for all you single ladies, or a very bad thing for those of you ladies that are intimidated by being the only woman in a man’s world.
To be honest, this was one thing that I worried about a lot before I left for my AT thru-hike. I knew I could hike the trail, but I did not know if I could survive only seeing men the whole time. I started mid-February, so I missed the March and April bubble when most women start their thru-hike. This put me in the middle of a large crowd of big, burly men. I’m not going to lie; at first it was a bit weird sleeping between Brawny the paper towel guy and a Navy SEAL in the shelter at night, the sound of their snores drowning out the pitter-patter of the rain on the tin roof. All I am saying is the echo of 20 men snoring would scare any bear away from that shelter. Anyway, despite their ferocious snores and terrible smells, hiking with only men isn’t bad at all. In fact, I couldn’t ask for a better trail family.
When I told everyone of my plans to thru-hike, the most common response I received was that I was being stupid. Yes, people questioned my sanity because I was giving up my luxurious life to go rough it in the woods. However, even more than my mental health, people worried about my safety. Constantly I was being asked if I was bringing a gun, pepper spray, or a knife. Daily I was being told stories of young ladies being found in the woods tied to a tree or raped. I’m actually pretty sure one person was making up horror stories just to try to scare me out of doing the trail. And of course, everyone brought up the fact that women would be the minority. At first I wasn’t nervous at all, but with everyone who found out about my adventure warning me about being sexually assaulted and murdered, my nerves were not exactly settled.
Upon beginning my thru-hike, I was a bit uptight and weary of everyone. Of course you should be cautious, but I was probably overdoing it. However, to be completely honest, I couldn’t feel more comfortable with all the guys I met. So far, I haven’t felt the slightest bit threatened or uncomfortable. Everyone I have met has been extremely courteous and respectful. I actually feel as though thru-hikers are protective of each other, especially the women.
In my opinion, the trail has a dying breed of men populating its early thru-hikers. I have met more chivalrous men out here in the woods than I think I have met in society. If the shelters had doors, these men would be sure to open it for you. And just to drive my point in, this is coming from a Southern lady.
Everyone I have met has displayed constant support and consideration. One night, when I arrived to the shelter near dark, soaked, cold, and tired, I got an applause. I haven’t met a soul out here that isn’t uplifting.
I just want to make the point that no woman should be afraid to thru-hike alone. I am not saying you can trust anyone and throw caution to the wind, but if you make smart decisions and trust your gut, you will be just fine.
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