Sep 18, 2008


STRATHCONA, British Columbia – The trail winds through alpine tarns the color of good single-malt whiskey. As I roll down to Baby Bedwell Lake, a couple greets me.

"Where's your party?"

"I'm alone."

"You're solo-hiking? That's so stupid!" she bursts out.

Um. Not really. The lodge manager knows where I am and expects a check-in call tonight. She's administered medicine for my fever, plus the sort of pep talk I appreciate: "it's only 7.5 miles and 1,000 feet of elevation, you'll have a great afternoon."

The suburban escapee on the trail doesn't know this, however. Or that I'm a former mountain guide doing research for a hiking book. All she sees is the braids, breasts and big eyes: things humans are hardwired to coddle. Protect the infant! Preserve the womb! Women and children into the lifeboats first...

I swallow at least a dozen replies, ranging from snarky to feminist pulpit-pounding. She means well, truly. So I only pat her dog and murmur, "what I need is a pooch to keep me company."

So much for my big Rosie the Riveter moment...


  1. I like hiking by myself and rarely get the chance to. It does seem to freak people out to see a lone female hiker, though. And I did freak out myself about a month ago up in the Duckabush wilderness when I realized the last person the hike the trail I was on passed through in July. The cell phone wasn't working, it was getting a little dark and the trail was pretty claustrophobic and I saw large animal tracks AND scratches on a tree trunk. Hmm, I decided to turn tail and practically ran all the way back! And look at me, I'm still alive! LOL

  2. TKS (thanks for the tip-off: handles can be confusing),
    hiking alone is a much deeper experience, no? I wish ladies solo-ing didn't disturb folks so much: I get tired of defending my actions. "No, really, it's fine. I have my ice axe if an assailant wanders 50 miles off a dirt road in the Pasayten Wilderness and stumbles over my bivouac. But really, chances are better that I'll get run over crossing the street in Ballard."

    Glad you didn't get 'et, though.

    Where's the Duckabush, by the way?