Aren't you afraid?
Author: Tina Eckerlin
I have spent countless nights in the backcountry on my own. I have lost track of the solo-miles spent hiking, and the quiet nights spent under the stars - alone.
Solo-backpacking is always riskier than backpacking with others, no matter your gender. Always hike within your skill-set and abilities!
So many friends, strangers and hikers have asked me, "Aren't you afraid to be out there by yourself?"
To which I normally raise an eyebrow, and reply "Why would I be afraid?"
Generally, I just brush this off as an unintentional comment based on my gender, instead of an insult; which is how it feels, that is until last October...
I couldn't take it any longer
Last fall I was out for a last short trip before our impending Canadian winter. It was a 5-night and 6-day trip in one of my favorite places, Algonquin Park.
The Western Uplands trail in Algonquin Park is approximately 88 km in length on the rugged Canadian Shield.
I had hiked this trail before and was looking forward to a few days out on my own, and testing some new gear I was prototyping.
There are 3-loops to this trail, each bringing you further into the backcountry. I was hiking the outer perimeter of the 3-loops. Many people use the first loop for day-hiking and overnight trips.
About 20-minutes into the trail I came across an older couple day-hiking. As I approached them I could see another backpacker walking away from them waving, and continuing on his way.
When I reached them we started to chat. They asked about my trip, and were quite shocked and almost concerned that I was going to be solo for 6-days.
Then they asked the question that set-me-off. "Aren't you scared to be out here by yourself?"
I took a deep breath, and asked them "did you ask that hiker you were just talking to if he was scared?"
They said "no".
I couldn't take it anymore! I asked "why not? Is it because he has a penis?"
The looks they gave me were priceless! I mean, why is it ok to ask me if I am scared, but not the man before me.
Why as a society do we have such a stigma of women being helpless, afraid and incapable of doing things? Moreover, why do women seem to believe it too?
What are you afraid of?
Now I realize that I may have an advantage. I have spent most of my life outdoors, on adventures and pushing boundaries. I am confident in my skills, knowledge and experience, but am always learning new things. There is always a risk being alone, but I prepare as much as possible to help be ready for unexpected situations.
Maybe it is because I am 5'10", plump and not easily preyed upon. I tend to joke around saying that I think I would have a 50/50 chance at winning an arm-wrestling competition with a black bear!
Why are so many women fearful of solo-adventures? Why do people always question my knowledge, experience and love of the outdoors? Worst of all, why do people always try to project their fears on me?
I don't suggest getting out there without the proper skills and know-how. I am also not underplaying the potential dangers of the wild. What I am saying is that if you want to get out there; learn and do it.
Also, if you are a naysayer or feel the urge to comment on my gender and choice of activities, maybe you should reflect on your own fears and stop projecting them on me.
Do you have any tips or tricks that helped you get over your fears of solo-adventures?
Make sure to leave us a comment below and share your thoughts!