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  1. #1
    Registered User ldsailor's Avatar
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    Default Scary Encounters for Women on the Trail

    I thought this article (link below) was very interesting. It also hit home to some degree. I try to be friendly on the trail. Many years in sales oriented jobs taught me that people like to talk about themselves, so I'm always asking questions oriented in that direction. More than a few times, it occurred to me that maybe I was coming off creepy. What do other male hikers think about the article and in particular, does it ring true for the female hikers?

    https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-sc...men?ref=scroll
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  2. #2

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    I read it the other day and my opinion is that the article exploits the terrible murder and assault that happened and uses it to over-dramatize women's experiences when hiking. I'm a woman and have been solo backpacking for 6 years and while I've had a few incidents and concerns, the article presents it as a regular occurrence. It's definitely not older white men who I've had issues with but younger, homeless, mentally ill men. When my 20 ish yr old daughter was hiking the AT, she loved hiking with mature men because she felt so safe.

  3. #3
    Registered User ldsailor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Traffic Jam View Post
    I read it the other day and my opinion is that the article exploits the terrible murder and assault that happened and uses it to over-dramatize women's experiences when hiking. I'm a woman and have been solo backpacking for 6 years and while I've had a few incidents and concerns, the article presents it as a regular occurrence. It's definitely not older white men who I've had issues with but younger, homeless, mentally ill men. When my 20 ish yr old daughter was hiking the AT, she loved hiking with mature men because she felt so safe.
    Well, as a 71 year old "mature" man that makes me feel better. Of course, women have one great advantage over me. They could hike backwards and I still probably couldn't keep up with them.
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  4. #4

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    Harassment of women on the trail is definitely an issue that has to be taken seriously. But to bring this terrible murder as an example is (very) bad journalism. That raving, hallucinating psycho was a menace to everyone, men and women alike. And the irony of it is that Stronghold died attempting to protect his female hiking partner.

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    Quote Originally Posted by stephanD View Post
    Harassment of women on the trail is definitely an issue that has to be taken seriously. But to bring this terrible murder as an example is (very) bad journalism. That raving, hallucinating psycho was a menace to everyone, men and women alike. And the irony of it is that Stronghold died attempting to protect his female hiking partner.
    You bring up an important point. I didn't read the whole article (really long), but enough to get the gist. Several times the strong independent female solo hiker (or perhaps the author) implied that male hikers should step in and protect women from creepy guys. That sounds right. Gallant brave man saves helpless girl from threatening ogre... But as you pointed out, that particular ogre was a serious threat to everybody, and the gallant brave man is dead. Men come in all sizes, big/small, strong/weak, old/young, athletic/skinny. While I would be very grateful to any man (or woman) who stands up for me, I don't believe I should expect that someone else should risk their life for mine just because I'm female. If I'm out there on my own, I accept the risks, and I prepare to defend myself or accept the consequences.

    disclosure: I normally hike with my husband, rarely alone.

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    Registered User JNI64's Avatar
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    All 4 of them should have stuck together and fought back against this animal.

  7. #7
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    Lots of scary things occur to all genders on the AT. It happens to males, people of color, LGBQT, etc sometimes with females being the perpetrators.

  8. #8

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    Stories like the one I just read about the murder and harrassment remind me why I have always been an advocate of carrying a weapon,either lethal or non lethal,on ones person in most situations.

  9. #9

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    Yeah, did you see that video of the cougar chasing that guy in Utah?

    Seriously, don’t be creepy is good advice. And recognize that behavior that might be okay at home, like asking for a number is creepy on the trail.

  10. #10
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    I agree with Traffic Jam that using Stronghold's murder as an example of gender violence or harassment on the trail is completely inappropriate. Like StephanD said, that perpetrator was a danger to everyone. And of course, that event was tragic and horrifying, but exceedingly rare. To make it sound like all female hikers are or should be worried about getting murdered on trail is not a reasonable assessment of the risk. Suggesting as much is alarmist clickbait, plain and simple.

    That said, I think harassment is totally an issue on trail sometimes. Most female thru-hikers I've met, particularly young and/or solo, have pink-blazing stories, some that verge on stalking like the ones in the article. I've encountered bears and coyotes and moose, and my scariest ever hiking encounter was with a man. It wasn't the AT, but on a lesser known route of the Camino in Spain, I was catcalled, then followed, then passed, and then "ambushed" by a creep who had waited for me just off trail in a secluded wooded area only to expose himself and tell me to f*** him. (I literally just ran away, and luckily he seemed to just be getting off on scaring me and showed no inclination to chase or attack me after that.) I know it's highly unlikely that something like that will happen to me again, but it still crosses my mind if I'm hiking alone and I cross paths with a solo male hiker. Of course, as soon as he greets or even just nods at me in a normal way, I immediately feel at ease, and overall I have a lot of faith in the hiking community regardless of gender.

    To the OP's question: does the article ring true? --> About being terrified of men on the trail all the time? Absolutely not. About being initially wary of men, especially in one-on-one situations? Yeah, I do feel that a bit, particularly if they're behaving erratically, appear to be intoxicated, or anything else is "out of place" (nosy questions, no hiking gear/apparel while on trail/in shelters, suggestive comments about sex/women's bodies/etc). The pink-blazing stuff rings true to me, but luckily I never had serious issues on the AT, just a lewd comment here or there and drunkenness that occasionally made me uncomfortable and would have made me feel unsafe if I'd been alone (I had a tramily by those points). Actual criminal stalking behavior seems quite rare, but the pink-blazers who just repeatedly push boundaries despite discouragement and reminders of SOs back home are unfortunately somewhat common.

    Obviously I can't generalize for all female hikers, but as a young woman who hikes alone a lot, my advice to men like OP who are concerned their friendliness might come off as creepy: don't worry! If you're genuinely just being friendly, I can probably pick up on that, and the moment you said hello to me in a friendly way, I felt totally comfortable meeting you. Friendly questions are welcome, but the ones that might get me back on edge are things like "where are you camping tonight?" or "you're all by yourself?" or "are you carrying a gun?" because even if they are just natural curiosity, it can be slightly unsettling (for anyone, male or female!) to wonder why a stranger might want to know where you'll be sleeping, if you're alone, or if you're unarmed. Conventional wisdom for female hikers is to dodge or lie when asked these types of questions, anyway. But I'm usually happy to chat about the trail, wildlife, gear, what have you. My family and friends are so sick of hearing me talk about thru-hiking that I'm generally pleased to meet other hikers to geek out about it with!
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    That raving, hallucinating psycho was a menace to everyone, men and women alike.


    yeah....

    a mentally unstable person like this suspect was bound to hurt someone eventually.......

    trail or no trail-----he was a danger......

  12. #12
    ME => GA 19AT3 rickb's Avatar
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    Every one of the 7 thru hikers (yes, thru hikers) murdered on the AT in the middle of their thru hikes were either women, or men hiking with women.

    While the AT can feel and be safe for all thru hikers, the author’s comment (copied from elsewhere?) that risk of getting murdered at home is 1000 times greater than on the trail does not hold water — at least for folks on a thru hike.

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    Who was it that said if you drew a 2,200-mile line through America randomly, you'd end up with more examples of violence than has happened on the AT. The AT seems like a remarkably friendly and safe place, despite the risks that exist.

    I'd much rather hike the AT than drive on I-285 in Atlanta in the rain.

  14. #14
    ME => GA 19AT3 rickb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Roper View Post
    Who was it that said if you drew a 2,200-mile line through America randomly, you'd end up with more examples of violence than has happened on the AT. The AT seems like a remarkably friendly and safe place, despite the risks that exist.

    I'd much rather hike the AT than drive on I-285 in Atlanta in the rain.
    Me too.

    Many risks of modern life simply do not exist on the trail — and then there are the health benefits of an active lifestyle.

    But just as it is OK to recognize and accept the risks of driving, so too it is OK to recognize risks — even small ones — in other activities. And then take reasonable/measured approaches to lessen them.

    As for the line analogy, consider that on a decent size map of the USA, that pen line will be about 3 miles wide.

    We can only wish the trail covered so much ground. Any one who has thru hiked the trail has likely slept, lunched or otherwise passed directly over the site of not one, but several horrible crimes — and not just been in the general area.

  15. #15

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    Just an observation...from the stories in the article related to sexual harassment, it seems a common theme is that the women are hiking in groups with strangers and exchanging personal information, such as cell phone #’s. I know that’s common on the AT but it’s not something I do. Typically, I have no interaction with other hikers beyond a friendly greeting.

  16. #16
    Is it raining yet?
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    The article makes the AT sound like a pretty bad place, which of course it is not. 7 people have been murdered out of how many millions of cumulative hiking days?

    I advocate that all hikers / travelers learn basic self defense skills. This builds confidence and actual know-how if it comes down to it.

    I may sleep in a nylon tent, but so does my .40 semi-auto pistol. The complications of interstate travel while armed have been covered in other threads. If you choose to do so, be properly trained and know the law.

    As way of correction, the NPS's Investigative Service's Branch and the FBI have concurrent jurisdiction for felonies on NPS lands. Neither agency is a local police force.

    https://www.nps.gov/orgs/1563/index.htm
    Be Prepared

  17. #17

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    A stun gun,tear gas or bear spray,and a good sized rock in a sock should discourage most of the "creepy" guys I would think................(my stun gun is also a flashlight so it's stealthy and arouses no suspicion...)

  18. #18
    Registered User Knocky's Avatar
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    Self protection starts with mindset. Men, as well as women seem to be woefully unprepared for a sudden crisis. Adequate means of protection are available, and there is no legitimate reason these days, for anyone to suddenly realize that they are on the menus, with no ability to defend themselves.

  19. #19
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    Every one of the 7 thru hikers (yes, thru hikers) murdered on the AT in the middle of their thru hikes were either women, or men hiking with women.
    What about Scott Lilly?

    https://www.strangeoutdoors.com/true...alachian+trail

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    ME => GA 19AT3 rickb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Blue View Post
    Section hiker.

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