Yes, it’s different. When we hike in the Sierra, we don’t see many couples hiking together. We see a lot of men, and a few groups of women. But plain old couples like us, not so much.
And it’s funny what happens when all those men see M on the trail. P tends to hike a little faster than M, so he usually greets these hikers first. They are perfectly happy to be seen resting on the side of the trail while P hikes up and past them. All is well in the world until M comes around the corner. The minute they see the lovely M hiking along, they make a great struggle to get going again. They jump to their feet, hoist up their packs, give a few grunts, and push themselves up the trail.
So now we are hiking along the trail, P in front, and a group of guys who are just killing themselves to keep up, and M hiking merrily behind them all. The only problem is, they often can’t keep up the pace. And so, slowly and inexorably, M passes them by. Her only hope is that they don’t die of a heart attack while she does so. They gasp and wheeze, sweat and groan. M smiles sweetly at them. Well, sometimes she does.
They just don’t want to admit that a woman might hike faster than they do—especially a woman of a certain age. (And no, we are not disclosing proprietary information. Let’s just that we’ve been married well over thirty years, and neither of us is in the bloom of youth.)
It’s true that there are a lot of people who hike faster than we do. We’re happy to let them walk on by. And we admit that we often have an advantage, as our packs are certainly lighter than a lot of the packs that we see on the trail. It’s always easier to climb up a pass with 25 pounds than with 45 pounds. Or sixty.
But none of that matters to those guys when M appears on the trail.
-------------- "Sure as I know anything, I know this - they will try again...They'll swing back to the belief that they can make people... better. And I do not hold to that. So no more runnin'. I aim to misbehave."
I like to meet women on the trail. They nearly always seem to be the type of women that I like to be around. But I'm not likely to stand up for one! Same where men are concerned - I enjoy meeting people on the trail, except not loud ones.
-------------- Reach out your hand, if your cup be empty If your cup is full, may it be again
Journal and links to refugees, backpacking, travel in Asia, photos, honky-tonk angels, other beautiful things...
I'm lucky, I don't have to hike with men. I get to backpack with my wife and her best girlfriend. A totally ego-less, everything is fun and new perspective. I've been backpacking since 1975 and have BP'd with all sorts of people... these two gals (both over 50) have made trips in the last five years the best of my life.
Women backpackers... may their tribe increase.
-------------- Contentment is natural wealth, luxury is artificial poverty. – Socrates
Thanks for the support for women hikers on this website - I'd expect nothing less, really. :-) Every year (at about this time) on Whiteblaze (the AT website), there are women who post "is it safe for me to hike alone on the AT?" questions and every year there are the answers. I've done it, and yes, it's safe. I hike alone most of the time, and I've never, ever found a guy out there who wasn't absolutely on his best behavior. They're good company, share food, stories, help pitch my tent, etc., and I've never felt uneasy.
I have noticed, however, when we're hiking that they all have to be hiking ahead. I'm a slow hiker, granted, but never do I have to wait on a guy to catch up with me.
. . . They are perfectly happy to be seen resting on the side of the trail while P hikes up and past them. All is well in the world until M comes around the corner. The minute they see the lovely M hiking along, they make a great struggle to get going again. They jump to their feet, hoist up their packs, give a few grunts, and push themselves up the trail. . . .
In over 40 years of backpacking, I've never witnessed anything of the sort you describe. And I've seen plenty of good-looking, female backpackers.
Beyond that, if there were that many people in one area for you to figure all that out, I'd be looking for a far less-crowded trail.
That's a strange scenario. Not part of my world, thank you.
Can't say I've experienced that one. Of course, when I think about it, we don't meet that many people on the trail, certainly not enough to have much sense of what they do if they are resting (we have had trips, on trail, where we went days without seeing anyone).
Until very recently, we've tended to get more exclamations about how amazing it is that our little kids (always small for their ages, so looked really impressive ) would be out there so far from civilization.
I remember years ago, I was about 45-50, I got passed on the trail by a cute 35ish young lady. I think she was cute, she passed me so fast and was gone I'm not really sure. It would have done me no good to try to stay in front of her even if I would have thought about it. I just thought, man is she fast, must be used to these mountains. This was my second day dayhiking in the white mountains in New Hampshire and I was moving at a crawl.
She wasn't a woman at the time, just a wee thing in pigtails, but for a couple years when BerryPicker was between 4-6 years old, all the guys would gush over her when we were out hiking. They would help her over creeks she had no problem with or chat her up about the trail. She was quite the lil' darling and it was great fun to see them posturing.
Now, Rumi & I have "turns" and things get out of hand if someone gets a "turn" before they are due. If a troop of half naked college guys go jogging past, that was my turn, so heaven forbid if there isn't a bikini clad hiker before the next shirtless college guy. The urge to impress on the trail is a grand source of amusement and I will take full advantage of it.
-------------- “I’m just hanging on while this world keeps spinning and it’s good to know it’s out of my control. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from all this living is that it wouldn’t change a thing if I let go…” Jimmy Buffett & Martina McGraw