We Belong There: Love Yourself and Hit the Trails, Ladies!
Is hiking only for the young, fit and healthy?
I have to make a confession. I used to be pretty fit. Daily workouts - in the beginning track and field, then martial arts and rock climbing.
I was in an awesome shape!
But it was, like, high school ;-)
And now? I’m 40 year old in a month; I have fibromyalgia and haven’t been properly exercising in a long time. My back hurts sometimes and my knees are a bit off after overworking them last summer in Scotland.
Asthma, celiac disease and multiple allergies… and should I even get into the mental health issues with my anxiety?
I am a kick-ass hiking lady and I know it!
You are a kickass hiker (in making)!
Why am I saying all of that?
Because I think I still kick ass and I have a full right to call myself a hiker, a traveler, and a backpacker.
Mountains are not just for the athletic and young – we all have the right to enjoy them, no matter our health or fitness level.
It might seem, looking at "hiking" Instagram photos that only hikers who are young, slim, feminine-looking, in full makeup, and catwalk ready are fit for the trails. Looking at various ads you can see a similar trend - fresh-looking (no sweat or dirt), slim, fit, and mostly Caucasian models presenting hiking gear.
I'm pretty sure more than one woman felt discouraged from heading off to the wilderness because of such portrayal. Where are the fat, slow, old, non-white, short-haired, butch, solo, sweaty hikers? Do they have no place in the Great Outdoors?
I don't have to pass an exam or climb x number of summits above a particular height to have the right to call myself a hiker.
I’m sure you’ve seen the memes on how to create a “beach body”? Just take your body to the beach.
To me, same is with hiking.
How to make a hiker? Just place your wonderful self on a wild path and start moving whatever way you can.
What is important though is to know yourself well and pick a trail matching your skills.
Are you a beginner hiker with no experience in anything requiring much movement?
Or generally unfit? Or maybe you are a serious illness survivor?
Neither age nor size indicates a woman's fitness level or her right to enjoy the outdoors.
If you are just at the beginning of your hiking adventure, pick something simpler with less elevation.
Prepare before hiking
You can still do long-distance trails, but your daily distance might differ from those proposed in guides.
You can still be the bad-ass-est YOU possible while hiking and enjoying the great outdoors. Don’t let anyone take it away from you.
There is nothing like the satisfaction I felt seeing on a map the distance completed that day. Was the distance the same as that proposed in guide’s itinerary?
Sometimes it was sometimes it wasn’t.
The most beautiful thing in solo hiking is that everything fits my needs. I do my own best, with no need to compare myself to others.
The only thing that mattered was how awesome I felt at that moment.
The power in me
YES, WE ALL CAN (hike)! Copyrights
What was it like to step on top of a hill or a mountain?
I felt strong, confident and powerful. I was a hiking woman who loved herself for what she was able to achieve.
I loved my tired feet and aching legs for carrying me to the mind-blowing landscapes. I loved my arms for pushing me up hills with the help of trekking poles.
I was proud of my eyes, my mind, and my intelligence.
I was astonished at what my body could do and how fast it was changing - getting used to the march, getting stronger and more powerful with each mile walked.
Now, Ladies, that's the revolution we need: to love ourselves, to be proud of our bodies and to go out there and claim Nature for us as well.
There should be nothing strange or weird for a woman wishing to be by herself in the great outdoors. She does not need the company of a man as a permission to hike a long trail or wild camp in woods. And she is not "asking for it" when hitting the trails solo.
There should be question about slow, old or big body hikers on trails, either.
During my hikes, I was often overtaken by other trekkers.
Sometimes there was this tiny sting to my pride, but later I was telling myself: don’t compare yourself. It was not easy – but I was working on it.
I still work on it.
Or maybe it’s the other way around with you?
You feel great – strong and fit while you might be overweight and/or a retiree?
Don’t let others fill you with self-doubt or limit you.
Can you put one foot in front of the other?
If you can do it for a while and in nature, it’s called hiking and you are a hiker – no matter size, age or distance covered.
There are trails wheelchair-accessible which could be a great start not only for the disabled but anyone unable to do climbing or walking on uneven ground.
Nobody puts Baby in the corner!
Do other people discourage you claiming they do it out of care or love?
Do they suggest it’s inappropriate or weird to go for a (solo) hike or “as a woman your age and status”?
You know what you can tell them, right? (Polite version: Mind your own business, Sir. More direct option: Go fuck yourself, Sir).
It doesn't mean you should do something stupid, like flying tomorrow to hike Mt.Everest with no training... I would be the first to try to speak some sense into you ;-) And it would be out of care and love :)
No hiking clothes? No problem! One of the 11 Aymara indigenous women who climb Bolivian mountains. credit.
Long live hiking women!
Go out there, nature belongs to everyone.
Let your love handles dance gently to the rhythm of your steps.
May your grey hair wave hello to the hills you pass by.
May your unique texture of cellulite fill the tight and comfy yoga pants with each mile you walk.
Allow your powerful thunder thighs to show what they are capable of climbing hills and carrying your gorgeous self around.
Be proud of what your body can do – no matter how small it might seem to others.
Take selfies and show your proud face to the whole world! You did it!
Meet Sam from the awesome This Girl Can campaign. Learn more.
Hiking: whatever works for YOU
Make sure your trip matches your unique needs and wishes. Choose camping in a tent or B&B.
Carry your big backpack or check out luggage-carrying companies on popular trails. Do 5 mile-long loop from a parking lot in the local Nature Park or 500 miles over a few months.
Go solo or grab your girlfriends for a wild girls’ night out!
Claim your right to enjoy Nature, to put your gorgeous self against the background of stunning beauty, to sweat and struggle, to feel proud and powerful