Trust Your Instincts
I have always been a very trusting person. Looking for and expecting the best from everyone. Of course I have been disappointed on occasion, but I forgive and move on. Once in a while a person or situation will not feel right, from a small sense of apprehension to full out hair standing up on the back of my neck. In those situations my initial reaction is to tell myself I am being silly-but lately I have started paying more attention to what is causing these feelings.
In my opinion women are in a different situation than men alone in the woods. Sure the weather, animals, and even physical challenges are the same. But, like it or not, woman (again my opinion) are at a higher risk from assault by fellow humans… We are typically smaller and physically weaker than our male counterparts.
Here are just a few ideas for the guys out there of things NOT TO DO if you don’t want to creep out your fellow female hikers:
- Don’t misinterpret politeness with romantic interest. I know this is a tough one guys, but being nice is often just being nice…
- Don’t tell her stories of previous conquests or scary encounters, such as ‘and then they dragged me off her and hauled me to jail!’
- Don’t ask her what she is carrying for protection– This one is from personal experience, maybe I am a little biased, BUT- super creepy question….
And a few ideas for the women out there:
- Be Direct. Don’t be so polite. This is one of the hardest things for me. Sometimes we just need to say-I am not interested leave me alone. It feels so harsh, but it can be necessary.
- Take a self-defense course. Did you know that just carrying yourself with confidence makes you less likely to become a victim?
- Be aware of your surroundings and trust your intuition. If a situation doesn’t feel right hike faster, slow down, or stay with a group. Report any incidents to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and the police.
So after all this is said, I am still the eternal optimist. I still expect the best intentions from people. I believe in the goodness of humanity. This belief is being buoyed by the trail community and offers of trail magic and I am not even on the trail yet.
Maybe the most important thing for all of us, men and women, is to show each other respect and trust your instincts…
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I’ve had two experiences one when someone was creeping thru our primative campsite at 2 am and another when we heard liw disturbing conversation behind us on a wilderness trail..just listen and be aware of your souroundings at all times..don’t feel silly taking action..we ducked down a small path and hunkered behind a large rock..after talking with others on the trail…with a dog..our suspicions were confirmed..glad we listened