Solo Hiking…Running…Walking…Existing as a Woman
This past weekend, as I was talking with my mom and preparing to say good-bye, she said to me, “Jenn, I want to ask you, once more, to please never go hiking alone.” She has asked me this numerous times. She can’t ever believe that I go out alone. That I leave, early in the morning, arrive and hike Shenandoah National Park (or anywhere) all alone. She can’t fathom that I’m out there for hours and sometimes only see 1-2 other people. I sometimes don’t tell her I’m going so she doesn’t worry.
This question was asked because of Mollie Tibbets. My mom heard her story and believed the reason she was targeted was because she was running alone. Mollie wasn’t killed because she was running solo. A woman does not face violence BECAUSE she is solo. There have been women killed when together. Sometimes in groups. Often times at parties. The fact is, men go missing and die while out in nature as well and guess what, I never see, “Hey men! Be careful as you hike solo.” I haven’t ever seen it up for debate.
I get tired of hearing, “Don’t go alone.” Well who is going to go with me? My son? That’s been discussed here already. My daughter is too busy. I ask friends and only once out of 20 times will someone try to go with me. So my choice is to never go hiking or to act like a grown up woman and go anyway. The violence that follows women who are alone has more to do with the men who attack them. I guarantee if you ask your female friends they all have a story about a man who reacted poorly because he was turned down, refused, or ignored. I have more than one. I have been on the receiving end of a hand that ended up across my face, in public, where no one (including my boyfriend at the time) did nothing.
Hiking alone is one of the best things I do in life. I love the solitude. I know I can take as long as I want to take photos. I can take my time or I can hurry. I do all the things I’m supposed to do: let someone know where I’m going, carry a weapon, carry bear spray (more for people than the bear), and carry my SPOT in case I get lost (this has NEVER happened – not even while bushwhacking). I read a lot of blogs and admire the women who have hiked the PCT, John Muir, or Appalachian Trail solo. I think it is incredible and I long to do something similar. I refuse to be scared. I refuse to let worry overtake my life and stop me from doing the things I want to do. When I used to travel for work, I would go out hiking wherever I was and never had any fear. I have walked the streets of Washington, D.C. at night with no fear. I have sat at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at 2:00 am with no fear. It just isn’t going to happen.
Thankfully, I haven’t ever had an issue while on a trail. I am always aware. I look around. I take notice if anyone is around me. I listen. Maybe I’m lucky that I haven’t had any issues. I walk, hike, carry myself in such a way that shows I’m not intimidated. I’m sure that helps. I look people dead in the eyes as we pass each other on a trail. Also, I am well versed on where I am so that if I have to take a different trail, I can. Or, I can bushwhack to safety.
This is probably getting a bit long. I hate being treated like I am not strong. I hate being treated like I don’t know what I’m doing or that I’m not careful. The words, “Be careful!” for the most part annoy me. I understand people are showing their concern but honestly, how about, “Have fun!” instead?
Posted on August 27, 2018, in General Hiking and tagged adventure women, female, Hiking, hiking alone, mindfulness, mollie tibbets, running solo, solo hiking, strong women, women, women hiking, women who hike. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.