Things I, a Solo Female Thru-Hiker, Wish I Had the Courage to Say

I trust trees more than people. I feel safer on a barely trodden trail through the backcountry than on the streets of Manhattan. I understand wildlife better than strangers. I feel confident in my ability to avoid danger in the woods. In the city, my safety is contingent on the whims of the people I pass and, to me, that’s pretty scary. Over the years, I’ve come to realize that not everyone shares these sentiments. Not everyone feels safer in silence and darkness and solitude than in noise. But for me, it’s a simple truth, formed through years of living in and out of cities, years of walking on dirt paths and busy streets.

Simply put, I trust trees more than people.

I am acutely aware that this fact is not uninformed by my identity as a woman. As an independent, fiercely stubborn young woman with an affliction for adventure, I am aware that my movements are watched—most specifically by men. I understand that my existence in the places that I love flags the attention of the others that more frequently fill those spaces—men. When I travel, when I hike, when I adventure, I see men as they watch me. I am hyper-aware that they are hyper-aware of me.

Before setting foot on the Pacific Crest Trail earlier this summer, I hadn’t anticipated how taxing being a solo female thru-hiker would be. I was focused on the reprieve and the escape, the solitude, and isolation, that the small trail would bring me. My preparation for the trail involved gathering my gear, planning food drops, and going on training hikes; I wasn’t preparing exit plans for uncomfortable situations on the trail and strategizing how to evade unwanted sexism.

To be frank, I simply hadn’t expected the trials of sexism to follow me into the woods.

How silly of me. Unfortunately, the toxicity of masculinity has found its way into the most remote reaches of the wilderness. The raised eyebrows and words of caution I receive, both from fellow thru-hikers and from the people I pass in town, are exhausting. It’s an emotional exhaustion that simultaneously pushes me to question my presence on the trail and further cements my desire to keep on trekking.

For the most part, I am able to quietly translate comments of wonder and warnings of caution into statements of respect and admiration. But every so often, someone crosses a line. A word of warning undermines my experience and knowledge of this world. A comment on my “bravery” is laced with sexist undertones and a comment on my “youthful” physique is simply inappropriate.

Women have different responses to these sorts of comments. It seems everyone has developed a different survival strategy for escaping situations of discomfort and fear. On the trail, my response was to hike faster—to leave the offending party and my fear behind, to put as many miles as possible between me and him. But after the fact, I would be frustrated that I allowed him to keep hiking his hike and to change my behavior in response. I would wish I had made him feel ashamed of his comments and his stares. He is wrong in his action, not I.

So here is what I wish I had said:

How dare you belittle me. Speak down to me and ask for my credentials. Push me to list my professional and personal achievements that have prepared me for a life on the trail. How dare you force my hand and pry about my romantic partnership, conversationally corner me so I have no option but to talk about the men “I belong to,” to mention my boyfriend to make you back down. How dare you ask me why he “let me” do such a thing alone, as if the expression of my personal agency is contingent on his permission. How dare you tell me that “I’m different than other women” for thru-hiking, comparing me to my sisters and putting them down in the process. How dare you center our conversations on your amazement of me—are you not hiking alone as well?

Why is what I am doing any different than what you are doing? How dare you call me “brave,” with your eyes wide in warning, insisting that the world is dangerous for women, explaining to me how to effectively navigate the male-perpetuated violence that I encounter daily.  How dare you make me a thing of wonder. Am I not as human as you? Do my legs not move with the same mechanics of your own? Are we not built of the same bones and propelled by the same awe of the vast wildness of this world?

Don’t offer to carry my pack for me or set up my tent for me. Don’t ask for my personal safety plan, making me justify my decisions to you. Don’t make comments about my leg hair. You think I carry a razor on a four-month backpacking trip? Do you hear me making comments on your uneven facial hair? Don’t minimize the strength and power of my body by referring to it as “young, tight, hot, and fit.” Don’t reduce my reasons for thru-hiking by insinuating that I am hiking in pursuit of a better body. I feel strong and confident when I am on trial, and I owe you no explanation of my motivation.

I don’t have space in my pack for your misogynistic bullshit.

These days I hike with two other badass young women. We independently set out on this adventure and after hundreds of miles hiking alone, fate aligned our paths. We push and pull and lean on one another. Call me crazy, but I think exploring the outdoors with other women is magical. I’ve found that when I walk with men, they are always surprised by my abilities. They seem to forget that I arrived here just as they did. I was carried by my own two feet and managed to survive long before I received their advice and aid. This isn’t the case with women.

It’s refreshing to be around people who don’t race to your side when you trip over your own two feet or immediately offer assistance when you flounder. There’s a silent respect among us; we know we are all independently competent and capable; we are strong and intelligent. We can tease and laugh at each other. We can complain about the knots in our hair and the fact that we miss wearing dresses. We can catch each other’s eye when another old man tries to explain life on the trail to us. We laugh and we hike and we kick ass. And we don’t question our presence on this little path in the middles of the woods.

We roll our eyes at men who think they know better than us as we crush days of 25+ miles back to back to back. We allow ourselves to break down on the trail, crying and cursing our decision to put our bodies and minds through this tortuous nirvana. And then we pull each other up and keep on keeping on.

We belong in these woods; it is they that don’t.

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Comments 80

  • Karen Joyce : Sep 17th

    Spot on! At 56 I have experienced the same sexism as I have hiked solo in wildernesses all over the US and traveled the world.
    Even more so, as a solo traveler encountering Americans in foreign cities, American women seem to perpetuate this “bravery” myth about being solo among other cultures. Europeans are much less likely to be surprised or critical of women travelers or even solo hikersin the US. Both men and women from Europe have hiked, camped and traveled with me and never had these conversations.
    My sole “weapon” in the wilderness (or explanation for my ” safety” ) has been my dogs (who.wouldnt harm anyone) but I too find the constant explaining stressful. I am sick of saying that Im not afraid to begin with, that this is the body I was born with, and no more in need of compliments than the coloring of my dog, which I also didnt choose. I do appreciate the compliments “adventurous, knowledgeable, prepated, considerate” from other hikers. But I dont think of the wilderness my “gym” where I show off my physique for men to notice. I agree being constantly told I am “brave”, when I was never afraid to begin with, is just a way to critcize my choice to be alone and go where I like.
    Thank you! Keep educating with the words you should have said, and keep up the solo treks! (Amd bring bear spray for the masogynists that get too close!)

    Reply
    • DD : Sep 17th

      My god. Here is another drama queen.

      Reply
      • Frank : Sep 17th

        I suppose that the world and the people on it have developed your attitude about men. I’m a man and I tell you now… If you wish to go about hiking trails, and sweating like a pig then more power to you. I am neither for or against you.

        Reply
    • Nh hiker : Sep 17th

      You have been in the woods too long. Too bad you let those feelings ruin your trip. Perhaps it’s time for a break?

      Reply
      • Paula : Sep 18th

        I agree. Author sounds angry at men. I hike solo all the time. I do not get treated like this author. I feel respected and equal to the guys. Also, more solo women on the trail than men !

        Reply
  • Joseph F Prather : Sep 17th

    Hi Page, I feel the same way on trail as a male. The reason I do is because I’m ill. I have PTSD from Iraq, childhood abuse, and a career in law enforcement. I’m 53 y/o now and wouldn’t trust you on trail either based on what I’ve seen all the pink blaze, manipulation, and guy juggling in the military and on trail. Your anger for men goes far beyond trail issues. Your ignoring your pain and focusing on the anger and spitting it everywhere like a dragon in game of thrones, making sexist generalizations galore. You remind me of a friend who got robbed by an African American when he was a teen and now hates all people of color. Good luck with all that RAGE. Start working on the PAIN when you can get past the anger. Good luck being a young know it all with no life experience. I’m assuming this but it shows.

    Reply
    • DD : Sep 17th

      My god. Here’s an idea. Instead of spending what little time on this planet you have left looking for all the negative around you, why not focus on the beauty. So out of all the experiences you had on the trail, you chose to write about this one. Ugh…we are what we believe. Seems like you believe you are a victim.

      Reply
    • Chuck : Sep 17th

      Exactly

      Reply
  • Paul : Sep 17th

    Paige, I sincerely think you might have overreacted to this. I have the same concern for men as I would for women on the trail. If I tell you “You’re a beast, be careful out there”, maybe it was meant as a simple passing-by, no offense to be meant, courteous comment. And as for the body comments, I wish more people told me I look young, fit, and strong. Take it as a compliment. You have no reason to automatically take it as sexist (although I’m quite certain it is sometimes). Also, please don’t pretend that women don’t pass by a man on trail and think, “that’s a good lookin’, fit dude right there”. All I’m saying is that men aren’t all jerks all the time, and women can be just as bad (or good, seeing how you view it).

    Reply
    • TicTac : Sep 17th

      Ah yes, the mansplaining begins. Trust a man to explain that compliments on your body are not sexist, that concern for your safety are not in themselves worrying. As with many other things, men, keep your opinions and thoughts about women to yourself.

      Reply
      • Christine Kitson : Sep 17th

        My son hikes alone. I worry about him all the time.

        I always caution hikers who go it alone, and I do think they are brave. It doesn’t matter their sex, or age. Deep woods and solitary hiking carry risks.

        Sometimes people worry, even strangers, not because of sexism, but because we care about each other.
        Are there creeps out there? Yep. But I dont think most are thinking what you are assuming.

        Reply
        • Jay Hill : Sep 17th

          I completely agree with your statement. As a male solo hiker I can’t imagine that men are this awful this often.

          Reply
        • David Link : Sep 17th

          I am so sorry that this was your experience on the trail. Anyone who takes this on has my utmost awe and respect! I’d be a quivering mess a couple of weeks in.

          Having said that, I do often wish hikers I meet on the trail “a safe journey,” whether male or female, young or old. And usually also a “wonderful journey.” I think courtesy on the trail can go a long way.

          Reply
      • Louis Cypher : Sep 17th

        So should Paige have kept her comments, opinions and generalizations about men to her self too?

        Reply
        • Robert Goulet : Sep 17th

          Yes

          Reply
        • Chuck : Sep 17th

          No doubt

          Reply
      • DD : Sep 17th

        And here is another feminazi telling people what they should and should not say. Wonderful.

        Reply
        • Hank : Sep 17th

          Seriously dd. You’re being a ddick. You’re adding nothing to the conversation and really are just driving home the validity of her feelings. What’s going on in your life where you come on to hiking comment sections to rant about ‘feminazis’? Go volunteer at a humaine society and leave us in peace.

          Reply
      • Deni K : Sep 17th

        I am also a female solo hiker in Utah and have NEVER felt like I was treated with anything but respect by Male hikers. I have felt threatened most by unleashed dogs and rude mountain bikers (male and female alike). Look to be offended and you will be.

        Reply
        • Swampdonkey : Sep 20th

          My husband and I hike all the time and we loved your comment! We have met the best people on the trail. Male and female. She just sounds like she has a victim seeking attention type of mentality.

          Reply
      • Dillon : Sep 17th

        Ah yes mansplaining. The feminists only tool to make her point of accurate or seemingly factual. Fact of the matter is all of this was sad, victimhood virtue-signaling pathetic-ness at its very height. Maybe men on the trail are surprised to see a woman out there because GASP only 2% of hikers of the PCT are solo female hikers (id say less reall on my experience, but this is what google says) Maybe its because they have had to help many ill prepared or unable (which is thoroughly my experience) maybe its because their point of view is based on the reality that they have experienced…seeing few and far between female solo thru hikers actually competent and capable of the task. Instead of conplaining and alienating everyone else, why not continue tk prove your strength, motivate and uplift the woman who perpetuates the sterotypes and get over the fact that being fit is a descriptive term… it actually describes a piece of who you are. Its what people who dont know you and come upon you on the trail know about you first…your visual appearance like it or not. In short; SUCK IT THE F$#k UP JESUS.

        Reply
      • Paul : Sep 18th

        I’ve been happily married for many, many years. Yet, I’d never take a nice compliment about me looking fit and happy as a negative. So please, before you know anything about me, judge me. Makes you look like the idiot. I tried to give a different perspective, but those of us love those of us on trail. That’s how the trail works. If you don’t know that by now, you need to hike more.

        Reply
    • David R Williams : Sep 17th

      She’s got a point, but also a huge chip on her shoulder ou

      Reply
    • Eugenio Gerena : Sep 17th

      Sad, simply Sad.

      “Simply put, I trust trees more than people.”

      But not just people, she means “male people”; for when amid female companionship (Two other badass young women) it is ok to push and pull and lean on one another, tease and laugh at each other, and talk about knotted hair, or desire to wear female attire, and kick ass (read: “male ass”).

      What a sad story of a sad individual, who goes through life with a chip on her shoulder, viewing the world and gaging her surroundings, with a single measuring stick for all matters; sexism. Makes one wonder: “What’s her story”.

      It spills from her writ that her brain interprets every single act, comment, or gesture, of awe, kindness or gentleness offered from a human from the male gender, as an offense to womanhood, & not just hers’.

      I wholeheartedly hope never to find such a vexing soul, on or off trail.

      Reply
      • Jay Hill : Sep 17th

        I agree completely with you

        Reply
    • Matt : Sep 17th

      I enjoyed reading your article, but it made me sad. Those men who shared there perspective in the comments are rapidly invalidated and yet they too have a voice. If we are to respect each other and meet on equal ground… we need to listen and share. We are all learning.

      Reply
      • THOMAS FULLMER : Sep 18th

        Never read the comments. Never read the comments.
        JFC learn to read critically, some…crossed the line. If you’re not that guy, no one cares. Additionally if you’re not treating a man who is hiking solo the same as a woman well you’re an ass.
        As the trite saying goes Hike your own hike.

        Reply
  • Will O'Daix : Sep 17th

    I understand your list, but if you were the fly on the wall at a meeting of guys, we say some of the same things to each other. I know I have to be careful now, but I’m an old guy, we were taught to sort of test strangers in case of things like hyperthermia. There was a code of the west, so to speak, people were responsible for people, which sometimes involved asking gentle questions to assess the state of another human being. Enjoy the peace you find in the woods.

    Reply
  • K. : Sep 17th

    “Take it as a compliment.” How about you go F yourself and your compliments? Why does a woman need to be validated by your “compliments?” How hard is it to STFU and say nothing? Yes, people will think whatever they want. It doesn’t mean they have to say it out loud to the other person. Even her writing about wanting men to leave her alone is triggering stupid sexist comments. Is it really that hard to understand, fellas? Why?

    Reply
    • C Bailey : Sep 17th

      Oh, they’re just afraid of a world where they get nothing more or less than women for doing nothing more or less than women, so they’re trying to outnumber her with lamely critical ramblings. Anger makes them feel powerful, which is why they oppose what appears to them to be the anger of women. But, I like it. More power to her.

      Reply
    • Paul : Sep 18th

      If you’re referring to me, then yes, sometimes it might be meant as a compliment. If I tell a young woman (or man for that matter) “you look great, keep up the good work!” Sorry if it might be meant as a compliment and not as jackassery (new word, gonna copyright it). But if you assume that’s what it is, then that’s all it will ever be. I love seeing women on trail. They often kick my butt and I’m jealous. I love sitting at lunch with women (often older) hikers and getting their perspective on the hike we all just experienced. They are usually the most awesome to talk with!

      Reply
  • Mike : Sep 17th

    Yikes. So, when guys hike we give each other the same kinds of comments… receiving them, in many ways, was a showing of respect as an equal out there. I’m sorry for what ever caused you to have such a negative view of us. I hope you find some inner peace in what you’re struggling with.

    Reply
    • TicTac : Sep 17th

      “I hope you find inner peace”? What a laugh. Most women experience no inner peace at all when they are around strange men. And what might have caused Paige to have a negative view of men? How about sexualizing from the age of 11, being catcalled and personally threatened in public spaces, having her thoughts and opinions questioned and devalued by men simply because she is not one. Just remember that men are afraid women will laugh at them; women are afraid men will kill them.

      Reply
      • RUSTY J SHEPARD : Sep 17th

        Your on the trail for a week haven’t seen another human. (man or woman) Then pass a man traveling in along same trail nothing is said. Im betting anyone would find it creepy. The afore mentioned male is condemed wether he speaks or continues along his hike in silence. The question is who are you yo be so quick to judge?

        Reply
      • Gregswife : Sep 17th

        Wow, I get so tired of all the man bashing that goes on these days. God forbid someone try and help you. Ridiculous. Grow up and quit being so self focused. I myself am a woman and would much rather hang out with men because they are so much easier to get a long with. Women are mostly drama queens, self absorbed victims. It’s always the man’s fault, men are either mean or sexiest– really??? I haven’t had to deal with this because I don’t take everything personal. Lighten up and put your big girls panties on.

        Reply
      • Ron : Sep 17th

        Not to diminish a powerful article or minimize the nature of the topic, I feel this could have been drafter better. I commend Paige for following her intuition, expressing her frustration, but incidentally created a rather polarizing position. Certainly the subject matter needs to be discussed and I enjoyed reading the raw nature of the emotion but I feel it could have been more eloquently expressed. Certainly someone in her position, with her writing experience could, in the future, reflect, dig a little deeper and edit a little longer to really create a more informative and inspirational piece.

        Reply
        • baby bear : Sep 22nd

          My thoughts too. Don’t forget that you are a journalist.

          Reply
      • Deni : Sep 17th

        That is your experience not mine. I have more trouble and nesting is delivered to me in my life by women than I have men. Quit generalizing your personal experience to womankind as a whole. You do not speak for me. I have peace in my life and I have for decades. I’m happy with who I am and my place in this world. I’m neither stupid nor uneducated because I do not subscribe to your definition of how a woman is supposed to think or feel. Keep feeling like a victim and you will continue to be one.

        Reply
  • Diane K Pinkers : Sep 17th

    Guys don’t get it. They have never had to deal with the constant danger assessment, the knowledge that the world is not safe, because of one’s gender. The constant belittling of one’s ability due to gender. The unconscious assumption of superiority and agency, because they are male, when they don’t know you, and have no responsibility for you. Guys are told to “have fun.” Women are told to “be careful.” Can’t I have fun, too?
    Gentlemen, your job here is to listen to a perspective not your own. Don’t judge and tell her she’s wrong, because it makes you uncomfortable. Because it might reflect onto your behavior. Her viewpoint is not invalidated, just because it does not match your own.

    Reply
    • Louis Cypher 8 : Sep 17th

      Bullshit. 1. Its a public forum and everyone has the right to post and have their opinions considered 2. You have no clue if you think men don’t know the dangers of the world

      Reply
      • Jay Hill : Sep 17th

        It’s a shame I can’t use a trail that may have female hikers on it without worrying about saying something offensive, or looking at them wrong. Or not saying anything.. Or not looking, or… Ugh. How to to handle it all. It’s so confusing now.

        Reply
    • DD : Sep 17th

      Another victim telling everyone how hard they have it. Give us a break and realize everyone of us is on this rock, spinning in the middle of no where. We will all die. Go take your drama somewhere else.

      Reply
    • SA : Sep 18th

      Diane – Thank you – nor are others opinions invalidated, whether they differ from the author’s or not…

      Reply
  • baby bear : Sep 17th

    Part of making a persuasive argument is not attacking the people you’re making the argument to. My perspective is constantly enhanced by people making good arguments from a perspective that I had not seen. I doubt if once this has happened in the form of yelling.

    Reply
    • baby bear : Sep 17th

      I didn’t realize until I had already written my previous comment that you were the person who wrote a long piece about how you were quitting the PCT and didn’t want any attention about it. A piece that went on and on about you. Do you edit your work before you publish it?

      Reply
      • Mitch : Sep 17th

        I am a male solo hiker and can’t really speak to your experiences. I just wanted to add I too trust trees more than humans (all humans) because they are trees. They can’t betray me, shoot me, rob me, steal from my campsite, break into my car, etc. Worst case they fall on me, but I’ll still take that over the impulsive behaviors of all human beings, regardless of gender. Maybe go with trusting bears or cougars or something that actually poses a comparable risk.

        Reply
  • Trail Runner : Sep 17th

    Sounds like an Anxiety, High Conflict oriented Borderline Personality Disorder. In addition the risk of harm from others is relatively low whether you are on the trail or in the Big Apple.

    Reply
  • Joe : Sep 17th

    Dang – you sound like a pretty angry person lol

    Reply
  • Robert Goulet : Sep 17th

    Wow, just wow! So much anger, so much disdain for people you’re yet to know.

    Reply
  • Jay Hill : Sep 17th

    Maybe we should make two trails. One for all the ugly men and one for the women to feel safe and respected. Two separate trails. Just be sure the trails are the same exact difficulty so nobody thinks it’s offensive.

    Reply
  • AT : Sep 17th

    It is wild to think we live in a day and age where masculinity is toxic. Thankfully some of us still live in a country where we can have opinions and also continue to enjoy the things we love. Happy trails!

    Reply
  • J Poovey : Sep 17th

    When hiking I’m always interested in running into strangers on the trail. Man or woman. I always ask the same question. “How are you doing? What brings you out here? Enjoy your time on the trail? Anything I can do to help you on your way?” I don’t find any of those questions to be out of line or inappropriate. I hike to remove the stick from my ass. Not to shove it further in. I appreciate a compliment. Showing concern for an individual, man or woman, is common courtesy. It’s looking out for you fellow hikers. Man or woman. I think you’re reading way too much into things. About the only thing I gained from what you wrote is this. You hate men and in your mind we are inferior to you. Hope you don’t find that to be sexist even though my being a male make me so in your eyes already. God forbid you need help on trail one day and it’s a guy who happens to come alone to help.

    Reply
  • Slowpoke : Sep 17th

    Really not trying to be snide here. Have you ever met a man on the trail whose behavior you found acceptable? What was he like, because maybe we need a role model.

    Reply
    • Dylan : Sep 18th

      Hello, fellow through hiker here, AT, CT, PCT. This post smacks of a lonely girl begging for attention. Sorry you don’t like guys, don’t worry we won’t take it personally. If you don’t feel safe in a city… Maybe find a muscular spouse (gender neutral) to make you feel secure. You’re projecting your insecurities onto the internet because you haven’t figured out what the hell is actually making you angry in the first place. You can’t walk through life pissed off at everyone and expect people to treat you kindly. As far as trying to “get away from it all” and dealing with social problems on the trail – maybe don’t hike on a SOCIAL TRAIL. The PCT and AT are some of the most crowded trails out there. If you want a solitary nature experience, then go into the real woods, off the beaten path. If you’re young just keep your enlightened opinions to yourself. Everyone has problems, deal with your shit and stop screaming into the wind, you’re life could be immeasurably worse. Happy trails!!!

      Reply
  • Jessica : Sep 17th

    Only 700 miles and that much trouble.

    I think the problem is you.

    Reply
    • Jay Hill : Sep 17th

      Hahaha. Exactly

      Reply
  • C Bailey : Sep 17th

    I’ll love it!!! Thank you for putting to word feelings I have known too long and too well.

    Reply
  • Tim Haney : Sep 17th

    What a strange article. How do you wander alone in the wilderness and walk away a cynic? It’s akin to hiking the AT through the Smokies but only taking a picture of the one trashed water bottle you come across.
    I’ve never felt personally emasculated when someone asked me on the trail how I was or how I was doing or what experience I had. Human beings are curious and social.
    We innately want to share our experiences (like you shared your article). That makes solo hiking itself a bit of an anomaly. However, thinking you’re an island, doesn’t make you one.
    Additionally, thinking you’re being objectified or looked on as less than by every male hiker doesn’t make it so. That perception and assumption comes from you and is a self-fulfilling prophecy. What we believe is what we perceive.
    Ultimately, if you know that you can handle yourself and that you are a capable man or woman, then another hiker’s question shouldn’t take away from the elation and high that we get on the trail, and I hope you find Joy on the trail regardless of who you pass along the way.

    Reply
    • Jess Smith : Sep 17th

      This is a perfect response – honest, inquisitive, open minded, refreshing, optimistic, realistic, humble… All of the qualities that we are supposed to walk out of the wilderness with. Thanks for your positivity. As a solo female hiker, I’d say you are the kind of person that makes a conversation worth striking up. And – gasp – I might even accept help from, should I need it; not because I’m weak or because I’m a woman, but because I’m human and we all need connection. I’m sorry that the author feels either threatened or ogled every time she passes a man on the trail but that’s got nothing to do with men or trails. That’s a story that has morphed into her reality and cements itself deeper into her psyche every time she repeats it – whether silently to herself or broadcasted to others. It’s ok to be kind, to be brave, to be caring, to be a badass. Those are the qualities that draw us toward one another, even when were out there to escape it all.

      Reply
  • Crackmonkey : Sep 17th

    What do I see here? Another self-involved, entitled, whiny little girl who invents insults where none can be found and exaggerates any attempt at a simple conversation or act of politeness as an assault on women kind. I’ve been around a very long time and have known a lot of women who are much stronger and dedicated than you who never complain that the invented “Toxic Masculinity” is out to do them in. You and your kind will find insult when a man offers to hold a door for you while the man simply tried to be nice as his “Mother” taught him to be.

    My own grandmother worked the ship yards during WWII, sacrificed, and still managed to raise a family and not once did she ever say that she felt belittled when someone offered to help. In those days most men tried to act with a bit of chivalry though those days came to a quick close when unhappy women decided the source of their unhappiness was men rather than their own failings.

    Sorry little Missy but the FACT is most women are not prepared to hike in the wilderness so seeing a woman alone can seem unusual. I’m sure the conversations you have construed as insults to your abilities where simply polite men playing that part their “Mothers” worked so hard to ensure they knew. Ans that is to offer help to women if they seem out of place. Someone asking you about your trip and where you are going is not an insult but simply a conversation and possible a polite way of seeing whether you are in need of help.

    Toxic Masculinity is a false, invented term used by hard core leftists as another way to separate us rather than bring us together. Despite what your idiot gender studies professors may have told you gender roles are real and necessary for the species to survive. That doesn’t mean you can’t go out and hike any trail you are capable of but I’m guessing every time you fine a trail that’s beyond your capabilities you will blame some imaginary man for your failures rather than simply admit you probably weren’t prepared.

    But please, go on and continue with the whining and blaming of men. You are doing a great job at reinforcing the Drama-Queen stereotype.

    Reply
  • Rick : Sep 18th

    So sorry you feel that way. I applaud you for your solo hikes but not because your a woman, but because it’s difficult for anybody, man or woman. I know I’m a man and i solo hike and it’s tough. I don’t think you exceptional for doing it because your female, your just exceptional for doing it. Keep on doing what your doing and ignore the misogynistic comments. I’d be just as likely to offer help as I would be to ask for your help. Out there, were all in it together. It’s survival, life or death.

    Reply
  • Bob : Sep 18th

    Mountain lions and bears prefer solo hikers.

    Reply
  • Steve : Sep 18th

    At best, though the author is very articulate with her vocabulary, this piece is just poorly written and miscommunicates much. It’s hard to read between the lines of this piece, and I don’t know what kind of trauma this person has individually experienced, but prideful anger is just soaked into every word here, it seems. Wow. Just wow. If a very young man who becomes interested in hiking and the outdoors were to read this, I fear that he would never speak to a woman on the trail again regardless of what he says. This is just confusing.

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  • Hotwire : Sep 18th

    Another feminazi who’s discovered to her shock that the trail isn’t a “safe space” nirvana where everything is just to her liking.

    People are gonna say things in life that offend and upset you. Grow up and get over it.

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  • SA : Sep 18th

    I had my 17 yr old daughter peruse this diatribe to see if I was off base. And yes, proudly, she is pretty badass if I do say so myself – She is the Battalion Commander for over 500 kids in her JROTC, she’s on the Marksmanship Team, she already has a soccer scholarship secured for next year for college and she can probably slap up a tent (although she has reverted to hammocks of late) as fast as anyone on here….
    She’s like, Dad, what’s her problem….? I’m like yeah, IDK.
    A wise person once said, “What you seek, you find”. Well put.
    I think we all tread on thin ice when we start ‘assuming’ anothers intent. My Mother and Grandmothers all taught me to be a Gentleman. I would guess now, that would (now) make me sexist and I would be guilty of offensive behaviours (per the author) ? When, in fact, in my eyes, it is a respectful thing to (for example) open a door for someone regardless of their gender. In fact, I get a little peaved when I see young guys today open a door and walk in, in front of their companion, regardless of who it is. (Granted this is just the first thing that came to mind, there are many examples).

    There is some validity to the things you state, however, the delivery is horrid and sends a message which I truly hope, was not your intent. Which appears to be bashing every male on the planet. Perhaps you should clarify ?

    Esp. when hiking, it is a community and EVERYONE should be helping EVERYONE…IMHO
    Just so we’re clear – I’m not to look at a female, speak to a female, offer to help a female or in anyway acknowledge a female on my next hike ? Sorry…can’t do it, we’re all hikers.
    Hike your own hike. ‘

    Reply
  • Megarette : Sep 18th

    I suppose if you put a piece out there like this you have to expect the mens rights troll to come out of the woodwork. Is it so hard just to believe her? This is her experience! Take what she says as truth, don’t project your insecurities onto her by insinuating her perspective is damaged. Maybe take a long hard look at yourself and see why you are so TRIGGERED by this article?! LOL!

    To the women trolling, jesus, some people have different life experiences than you! Aren’t you lucky that you’ve been nothing but respected in your life. Some women are not that lucky.

    Also, maybe read some books about the various ways in which women have been shat upon by the world– there are plenty — it’s history– read it!! Is it such a difficult leap to make to understand that there are SOME assholes out there who still have absorbed generational misogynistic attitudes towards women and that those attitudes might creep out when a strong (maybe stronger than them) woman appears ALONE in the woods? When our culture has taught us that women alone in the woods are in nothing but DANGER? Jesus you all are really delusional. And to jump in and insult a stranger on her own personal musings, it must have realllly struck a chord with you to make you all so defensive.

    To the author: thank you! i love that these trolls and mansplainers are doing your work for you proving your story to be accurate

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  • SA : Sep 18th

    I guess I don’t understand why its OK to attack anyone w/a differing opinion than the author’s, which is essentially attacking every Male on planet earth….So that’s ok ? I don’t recollect anyone saying there weren’t asses on the trail (& everywhere else), but I’m also pretty certain that those come in all genders, shapes and sizes.

    Why can’t people have differing opinions and an informed discussion, in lieu of attacking anyone whose opinion(s) may differ ? This is a microcosm of what is wrong w/our country in total. No one wants to discuss anything or HEAR what someone is saying. ‘You either agree w/MY opinion or you are an ass’. That’s why we have such a difficult time making progress on so many fronts.
    IMHO

    You’re either part of the solution or part of the problem, if you are so close-minded as to not even listen to what someone else has to say, what does that make you ?

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  • Jim Ogle Thorpe : Sep 18th

    I, as a trans-paleo oglethorpe, believe this kind-hearted woman . Deez Nuts For President

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  • Audrey Costa : Sep 19th

    THIS… IS….AMAZING.

    Reply
  • luis palacios : Sep 19th

    I feel confident in my ability to avoid danger in the woods. AS DO MOST PEOPLE WHO START A THRU HIKE. In the city, my safety is contingent on the whims of the people I pass and, to me, that’s pretty scary. SAME IS TRUE FOR MOST EVERY CITY DWELLER. Over the years, I’ve come to realize that not everyone shares these sentiments. THOSE ARE BELIEFS’ MORE SO THAN ‘SENTIMENTS’; AND ARE SIMILAR FOR MOST THRUHIKERS. Not everyone feels safer in silence and darkness and solitude than in noise. GOOD, ECHOES OF ONE RAISE NOT TO FEAR THE BOGEY-MAN. But for me, it’s a simple truth, formed through years of living in and out of cities, years of walking on dirt paths and busy streets. I HEAR THE SAME ‘TRUTH’ FROM NEARLY EVERY WOMAN, MAN, LGBTT, INDIVIDUAL DOING A THRU-HIKE Simply put, I trust trees more than people. GOOD FOR YOU!

    I am acutely aware that this fact is not uninformed by my identity as a woman. ONE WONDERS IF LGBTT OR MALES ARE AS INFORMED (not uninformed) BY THEIR GENDER IDENTITIES. As an independent, fiercely stubborn young woman with an affliction for adventure, (HISTRIONIC?) I am aware that my movements are watched—most specifically by men (PARANOIC?). I understand that my existence in the places that I love flags the attention of the others that more frequently fill those spaces—men (IF YOU UNDERSTAND IT RAISES ‘FLAGS’, WHY QUESTION IT? AND WHY DO YOU UNDERSTAND IT?) When I travel, when I hike, when I adventure, I see men as they watch me. (THE VERY ESENCE OF BEHAVIOR IN EVERY SPECIES. IS THAT’S NOT THE ESSENCE OF EVOLUTION) I am hyper-aware that they are hyper-aware of me. (AGAIN, PARANOIA OR PLAIN HISTRIONIC PERSONALITY?)

    Before setting foot on the Pacific Crest Trail earlier this summer, I hadn’t anticipated how taxing being a solo female thru-hiker would be. (HELLO!!! IT IS TAXING FOR EVERY SOLO THRU-HIKER; WHETHER MALE, FEMALE, OR LGBTT) I was focused on the reprieve and the escape, the solitude, and isolation, that the small trail would bring me. (GOOD, FOR THAT’S WHAT THE TRAIL IS ABOUT, FOR EVERY OTHER HIKER.) My preparation for the trail involved gathering my gear, planning food drops, and going on training hikes; I wasn’t preparing exit plans for uncomfortable situations on the trail and strategizing how to evade unwanted sexism. (TOO BAD, BAD PLANNING. AND THAT’S NOT JUST AN OPPINION, FOR EVEN THE MOST ELITE UNITS—WORLD WIDE—HAVE A PLAN B FOR ALL THEIR UNDERTAKINGS.)

    To be frank, I simply hadn’t expected the trials of sexism to follow me into the woods. (AGAIN, HISTRIONISM? PARANOIA? BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER? PTSD? MISANDRISM? HIGH ANXIETY TRAIT? OR HIGHLY CONFLICT ORIENTED? HAVE YOU CONSULTED THIS—SEXISM PECEPTION ISSUE—WITH A MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONAL?)

    How silly of me. (MENTAL HEALTH IS NOT SILLY) Unfortunately, the toxicity of masculinity has found its way into the most remote reaches of the wilderness. (I READ “TOXICITY OF MASCULINITY”. I REST MY CASE.) The raised eyebrows and words of caution I receive, both from fellow thru-hikers and from the people I pass in town, are exhausting. (GREEK AND ROMAN GODS TOO, WERE OFFENDED WHEN MERE MORTAL’S OFFERED COUNSEL) It’s an emotional exhaustion that simultaneously pushes me to question my presence on the trail and further cements my desire to keep on trekking. (ONLY PT THRUHIKERS ARE QUALIFIED TO ANSWER: REALLY, HOW OFTEN DOES ANYONE ENCOUNTERS PEOPLE ON THE PT, TO OBSERVE RAISED EYEBROW ENOUGH TO MAKE IT EMOTIONALLY EXAUSTING?)

    For the most part, I am able to quietly translate comments of wonder and warnings of caution into statements of respect and admiration. But every so often, someone crosses a line. A word of warning undermines my experience and knowledge of this world. A comment on my “bravery” is laced with sexist undertones and a comment on my “youthful” physique is simply inappropriate. (AGAIN, THAT IS YOUR PERCEPTION ABOUT COMMENTS FROM PEOPLE YOU DON’T KNOW. AND YOU ARE CERTAINLY ENTITLED TO TELL ANYONE TO STOP, BECAUSE THEIR COMMENTS OFFEND YOU. BUT WHAT YOU ARE NOT ENTITLED TO DEMAND IS THAT EVERYONE BEHAVES ACCORDING TO YOUR VIEW OF THE WORLD.)

    Women have different responses to these sorts of comments. It seems everyone has developed a different survival strategy for escaping situations of discomfort and fear. On the trail, my response was to hike faster—to leave the offending party and my fear behind, to put as many miles as possible between me and him. But after the fact, I would be frustrated that I allowed him to keep hiking his hike and to change my behavior in response. I would wish I had made him feel ashamed of his comments and his stares. He is wrong in his action, not I. (YOU ARE RIGHT TO FEEL FRUSTRATED—NOT THAT YOU NEED MY MALE APPROVAL—AND, YES, IT IS YOUR FAULT NOT TO ASSERT YOURSELF, BUT NOT TO MAKE HIM FEEL ASHAMED, BUT TO STAND HIM CORRECTED WHEN ADDRESSING YOU.)

    So here is what I wish I had said:
    How dare you belittle me. Speak down to me and ask for my credentials. Push me to list my professional and personal achievements that have prepared me for a life on the trail. How dare you force my hand and pry about my romantic partnership, conversationally corner me so I have no option but to talk about the men “I belong to,” to mention my boyfriend to make you back down. How dare you ask me why he “let me” do such a thing alone, as if the expression of my personal agency is contingent on his permission. How dare you tell me that “I’m different than other women” for thru-hiking, comparing me to my sisters and putting them down in the process. How dare you center our conversations on your amazement of me—are you not hiking alone as well?

    Why is what I am doing any different than what you are doing? How dare you call me “brave,” with your eyes wide in warning, insisting that the world is dangerous for women, explaining to me how to effectively navigate the male-perpetuated violence that I encounter daily. How dare you make me a thing of wonder. Am I not as human as you? Do my legs not move with the same mechanics of your own? Are we not built of the same bones and propelled by the same awe of the vast wildness of this world?

    Don’t offer to carry my pack for me or set up my tent for me. Don’t ask for my personal safety plan, making me justify my decisions to you. Don’t make comments about my leg hair. You think I carry a razor on a four-month backpacking trip? Do you hear me making comments on your uneven facial hair? Don’t minimize the strength and power of my body by referring to it as “young, tight, hot, and fit.” Don’t reduce my reasons for thru-hiking by insinuating that I am hiking in pursuit of a better body. I feel strong and confident when I am on trial, and I owe you no explanation of my motivation.

    I don’t have space in my pack for your misogynistic bullshit.

    (IF THAT IS WHAT YOU SHOULD’VE SAID, THEN, NEXT TIME, SAY IT! FOR—AS I INTERPRET YOUR POST—THERE WILL BE MANY OTHER “NEXT TIMES”)

    These days I hike with two other badass young women. We independently set out on this adventure and after hundreds of miles hiking alone, fate aligned our paths. We push and pull and lean on one another. Call me crazy, but I think exploring the outdoors with other women is magical. I’ve found that when I walk with men, they are always surprised by my abilities. They seem to forget that I arrived here just as they did. I was carried by my own two feet and managed to survive long before I received their advice and aid. This isn’t the case with women.

    It’s refreshing to be around people who don’t race to your side when you trip over your own two feet or immediately offer assistance when you flounder. There’s a silent respect among us; we know we are all independently competent and capable; we are strong and intelligent. We can tease and laugh at each other. We can complain about the knots in our hair and the fact that we miss wearing dresses. We can catch each other’s eye when another old man tries to explain life on the trail to us. We laugh and we hike and we kick ass. And we don’t question our presence on this little path in the middles of the woods. (HMMMM, HOW IS IT DIFFERENT WHEN A GIRL DOES IT OR COMMENTS. YOU CALL YOUR MALE ENCOUNTERS MISOGYNISTIC, WHEN IN REALLITY YOU OBVIOUSLY SUFFER A MISANDRISTIC PERSONALYTY DISORDER)

    We roll our eyes at men who think they know better than us as we crush days of 25+ miles back to back to back. We allow ourselves to break down on the trail, crying and cursing our decision to put our bodies and minds through this tortuous nirvana. And then we pull each other up and keep on keeping on

    We belong in these woods; it is they that don’t. . (MISANDRISM?)

    Reply
  • Molly “Training Wheels” : Sep 19th

    Spot on! These are things I wish I said during my 2016 AT thru hike. The amount of times someone said, “I would never let my [insert female relation] do [blank],” as if as a woman I needed to ask permission, while my male friends were celebrated.

    As I scrolled down through comments to get down here, it’s obvious that your words have angered some. The commented scum.

    Please keep speaking your truth. 🙌

    Reply
  • bugnout : Sep 19th

    The time to have said this was out on the trail. If you spend your time getting butt hurt over what other people say or think, your going to be unhappy for the rest of your life. Either speak up or grow a thicker skin. Not that speaking up will change others to accept your world view, but speaking up may have made you feel better. Get over the idea that you have the right not to be offended by others. You only have the right to say what you think. Telling us what you “would” have said is pointless. Your preaching to the choir.

    Reply
  • Missy Peterson : Sep 20th

    I think this is an amazing post! It doesn’t matter if you didn’t say it in the moment. What matters is you are saying it now… so perfectly for others to here. And maybe another woman will be able to use your words to say it in the moment. It’s a great, well thought out script. It also goes beyond solo hiking… it goes for anything where someone points out gender as something that should hinder one’s ability. I think some males have the same experience… for example male nurses, or male kindergarten teachers. Why shouldn’t being a nurturer, or good with children, be a common trait for all genders? Or being a superior athlete, or independent being? Anyway thank you for sharing this and making me think.

    Reply
  • S. Yoda Jones : Sep 21st

    -And I quote (someone’s comment discussing this article on facebook, “It’s highly possible that what she has mistaken for mysogyny is being a gentleman.”

    Reply
  • jj : Sep 23rd

    Thanks for sharing how you feel about ppl’s words during your solo experience. It is striking and sad how many ppl comment on your post using the same misogynistic bs you pointed out, only proving your point. Then they proceed by crapping on you for not being able to handle the misogyny in the way they would like you to (get over it, disregard it, or even love it?). USA is a racist patriarchy where perpetrators of racist and mysogynistic statements think you should be thankful to them for constantly calling you “articulate” or “well-spoken” if you are black, or for complimenting your physique, bravery, etc. every 500 feet on the trail if are a female. For the most part they are boring, unimaginative ppl who are prisoners of misogynistic culture as much as you are and they barrage you with same stupid questions followed by same stupid comments. Men shower you with misogynistic compliments because 1. they think it will make you feel better 2. they think it’s the way to your heart (or panties) while they have nothing interesting to say or ask about. If you are not thrilled they call you feminazi, forgetting that you have to deal with this bs all day long, every day, your entire life, even in wilderness… Once they drive you nuts or tired they will also label you unstable, crazy, resentful, ungrateful for the scenery that surrounds their stupid mouth, man-hater …(scroll around your comment section for more words to label you) once you express dissatisfaction with hearing the same crap over and over. You can’t raise anybody’s IQ but your words contribute in the efforts to communicate to men for the millionth time that their non-stop idiotic comments about your body or your bravery are lame and unwelcome (yes, there’s other stuff to talk about). Just yesterday another female jmt’er put me in my place when I suggested it’s usually slower moving across off-trail terrain w girls in tow…it’s time every woman speaks out every time they hear us, men, use and reinforce stereotypes. Not every woman feels comfortable voicing her discomfort for fear of being confrontational and being attacked verbally or even physically. But the more women speak out the more men may come to realization that their compliments, lame questions and same old comments are unwelcome and hurtful. I would love to take a group of straight men on a month-long tour of gay bars where strange men twice their age will compliment their butts, stare at their body parts, put them (or other random men) down for not shaving, for being too skiny or too fat, for not putting out, for being a slut, then go on hikes and compliment them on their legs every 5mins, compliment them for not being a sissy, compliment them for hiking well for being a man etc. Bright side for me as a man living in a patriarchy with omnipresent misogyny is that i get to joke about man-hiking all day long. (“man-hiking” = walking around in circles while telling everybody you know where you going:) Thanks again for speaking out!

    Reply
    • DD : Sep 28th

      What I took away from this long diatribe is you are possibly a woman. No shame in that, but you may want to check.

      Reply
      • jj : Sep 28th

        im a straight male, although i understand your confusion from where i wrote “another female jmt’er” which originally read “another female pct’er” before i quickly corrected the trail without re-reading. my diatribe is not against men in general. just against those men and women that resort to attacking women who voice being sick and tired of sexism and misogyny. i say that knowing that i have made many sexist or misogynistic statements and jokes myself. we can all do better if we think about how those statements make women feel instead of thinking only about ourselves.

        Reply
        • Scott A Brotherton : Sep 30th

          Just because you are in disagreement w/someone does NOT mean you are attacking them…those are two very different things. It would be pretty darn boring if we all shared the same opinions, would it not ? Yet folks on here are determined to crucify anyone who dares to have an opinion of their own ?! Why IS that ?
          Open heart, open mind and we all just might learn something (the horrors !)
          Here is what I find interesting – the individual who started this ‘tempest in a teapot’ has never seen fit to respond, acknowledge, address, support, argue or in any way contribute any sort of response to this thread after her initial diatribe (& I can think of no better word to describe it). That….speaks volumes too me.
          So, does she really believe & ‘feel’ what she wrote, or was she just stirring the pot ?
          Just as an aside – the woods belong to everyone….period, end of story.

          Reply
  • Heaven : Oct 1st

    I love this commentary because it is raw and real and a part of many solo female’s hikes. It saddens me to see so many people giving so much backlash on your personal experience, but Im glad that you said what needs to be said. If we continue to have the tough conversations, there can still be hope that our community can grow into a more inclusive and aware one. Keep on keepin on, sista!

    Reply
  • Strider : Oct 5th

    Title should read, “How I, as an entitled little brat, got my ass handed to me on the PCT, even though I tell everyone I’m a badass outdoors woman who can do anything!”

    Reply

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