I’m not sure where this new holiday came from, but I’m glad it exists!

What does it mean to hike like a girl?

 It means hiking with awareness, curiosity, and joy.

Hiking like a Girl on the AT

Starting the AT like a girl on Katahdin, 2010

Sometimes for me hiking like a girl means putting on a skirt, painting my nails, braiding my hair, getting dirt all over my legs, mud in my shoes, scrapes on my knees, sticks in my braids, and sweat stains on my shirt. It means reading a map & the lay of the land. It means being willing to get lost, and finding myself again. It means taking care of myself when I twist an ankle, get hungry, need to find water, or have to fend off raccoons at one in the morning. It means laughing at myself. It means dancing down the trail. It means scrambling over boulders & glissading down snow slopes. It means climbing mountains. It means skinny-dipping in alpine lakes. It means smelling flowers, and remembering to take my allergy meds. It means getting out of my warm sleeping bag on freezing mornings before the sun rises. It means staying up late reading a book as my headlamp batteries die. It means finding horned lizards, snakes, birds, dead things, flowers, pine cones, tadpoles, sparkly rocks, and perfect snow flakes. It means the world to me to be able to hike, and I feel lucky to be able to hike like a girl.

sage on the japery

hiking like a girl on the Japhy Ryder Route in 2011

I wish everyone could have the chance to get out and wander around in nature. Moving alone in wild places can make a soul sing, but many people never let themselves try it. It took me a while to realize I could backpack by myself, alone, solo. Many of my friends and family were concerned about my safety and sanity before my first solo thru-hike, but luckily I had decided that their fears were understandable but irrational. In a rare burst of knowing I was right, and that I really needed to try solo thru-hiking, I jumped on a trail for a month. That first thru-hike was one of the best choices of my life. Since then I have spent significant time alone on the long trails of this country, that time has helped me know what I am capable of & has reaffirmed the world is full of beauty.

Sage Bio Pic

hiking the PCT SOBO & Solo & like a girl in the summer 2009

Here are a few tips for hiking like a girl this weekend:

  1. Pick a place to go, grab a paper map & download one on your phone. Let a friend or neighbor know where you are heading & when to expect you back. It’s also helpful to let that person know what you expect them to do if you don’t return on time. You don’t want the full alarm search started if you are not back by dark, but if you are still missing a day after you said you would be home, it’s probably time to get authorities involved. A Personal Locater Beacon can be a nice addition to your pack if you have one, but if you don’t, don’t let that hold you back. While we are on the topic of devices, remember to turn your phone onto Airplane Mode while you are out to conserve batteries in case of an emergency.
  2. What are your expedition goals? Is this a picnic and smell the flowers day hike through the sunny desert? Is it a push your limits kind of day in which you hope to climb two peaks & travel marathon distances? If you are hiking with other people, are they on the same page as you? Do you have the right equipment, food, and water to match your goals? If it’s a picnic kind of day you best not forget an extra treat for your lunch break, and if its a take it to the max day, don’t forget a headlamp & an extra bar or two!
  3. Check the weather & look into what to expect from the place you are traveling. Should you expect afternoon thunder storms? Will it be windy? What about snow? Sun? You are going to Mother Natures house for a party, and you want to be sure you aren’t underdressed.
  4. Ok- you have planned & prepared. Now go have fun hiking like a girl!!

For more inspiring words, check out Liz “Snorkel” Thomas’s Hike Like A Girl article!