About the Author: Hi there, my name is “Z”, I am a queer solo female hiker from California. I run around the local ER as a nurse a few days a week. I love rock-climbing, bouldering, nerding out on DuoLingo, and being a crazy cat lady of one. I believe outside is for everyone, and I am passionate about making the wild an inclusive place for all. You can see what I’m up to on Instagram @The_Wandering_Z.

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My Name is Katnizz Everdeen

I am an AT Hiker

I don’t believe in the games being played in the woods

The gender gap is real

Outside is for everyone

Down with the Hiker-archy

Let me explain how I became Katnizz…

I made it to Millinocket Maine yesterday afternoon.  I was afraid I was going to fall asleep sitting up inside the Wendy’s in Bangor after flying through multiple time zones, so I splurged on an Uber to take me the 72.4 miles to the AT Lodge. 

It has been an odd experience being here. I knew that being in Maine, and being on the Appalachian Trail would be different than what I experience living on the West Coast in California, that’s part of why I chose it, but I did not expect to feel this irritated while taking these 2 pre-trail zero’s.  

Let me share with you some of the quotes and memories of the last 24 hours:

On My Uber Drive to Millinocket:
Driver Dave: You’re hiking  alone, that’s crazy, what else do you like to do?”
Me: “Um I like to rock climb and I like learning languages and stuff”
Driver Dave: “Wow, you must really intimidate men, you are a strong girl, good for you sweetheart

At The Barbershop in Town:
Me: “Hiii, do you take walk-ins?”
**Barber and Two Men look at me strangely**
Barber: “What do you need done?”
**I motion to my side shave**
Me: “I just need a shorter trim”
Man #1: **Scoffs** “I think you can handle it Russ”
**all three men laugh**
Me: “It’s just hair, it’s the same”
**I smile the polite smile all women know, the smile you make when “men are being men” and sit down**

At The Lodge:
**I am journaling in the next room when I overhear this conversation among two hikers**

Guy Hiker #1: “Man, I can tell a section hiker from a thru hiker just by lookin’ at them, their body build, how they talk, what gear they have”

Guy Hiker #2: “Oh totally, it’s so funny seeing them on trail and when they try to talk to you”
**both laugh**

At The Store:
**Guy Hiker #1 is the same guy as above**

Guy Hiker #1: “Are you thru-hiking?”
Me: *I smile* “I’m hiking, yeah”
Guy Hiker #1: “Yeah but are you thru-hiking?”
Me: *still smiling* “Oh, I don’t answer that question*
Guy Hiker #1: “What question?”
Me: “The ‘are you thru hiking question’, I don’t believe in it”
Guy Hiker #1: “Why?”
Me: “Because it really only serves the person asking it, it’s like surface level stuff, it’s just trying to categorize people and size them up, and I’m not into that, I want the real stuff, people actually connecting you know?”
Guy Hiker #1: “You have a different way of looking at things”

**walking out of the store**

Guy Hiker #1: “Do you own a business in California?”
Me: *confused* “What?”
Guy Hiker #1: “Do you own a business in California?”
Me: *still confused* “No, why?”
Guy Hiker #1: “You just talk like you know things, like you see patterns. You talk like you’re an experienced hiker”
Me: “I am a hiker”
Guy Hiker #1: “Yeah but like an experienced hiker”
Me: “I am an experienced hiker”

What in the world is going on? I feel like I am in bizarro land.  Where the crap am I?!

I am sitting here, incredibly thankful that the Millinocket library relocated next to the AT Lodge and I can escape this kind of conversation for a minute. 

I feel incredibly irritated.
These examples are just a few moments, there have been more, and I haven’t even been here 24 hours. I feel restless and I wish I could just get on trail and be on my own and outside of this misogyny bubble I find myself in.

This is a male-dominated arena. That’s just a fact. Hiking, the outdoors, the wild, can feel like “a man’s world”, because numbers-wise: it is. Women are a wilderness minority.  The ATC reports that only one in four of documented “2000-milers” are female. 

Being outside in the nature setting puts women/feminines in a gender disproportioned world they don’t normally experience in the day to day off trail.

Outside Magazine polled 2,100 women about the outdoors in 2017.  

“Fifty-three percent of respondents said they’d been sexually harassed while recreating. Of those, 93 percent have been catcalled, 56 percent have been followed by someone (by foot, in a car, or on a bike), 18 percent have been flashed, and 4 percent have been attacked.”

This is UNACCEPTABLE.

This is not okay.

And this is the truth. 

I was cat-called today walking around town. I have been followed while backpacking.

Here’s a newsflash:

Being on trail doesn’t give you permission to act like an animal. 

Being the “stronger” gender doesn’t give you the right to be a predator.

We are playing games in the wild and it’s costing us.
The game of male versus female.
The game of section hiker vs. the thru hiker vs. the LASH-er.
The game of treating women/feminines like prey in the woods.  

We are all here to hike. We are all here to be outside. We all have stories, and reasons, and choices that we had to make to get here. We are all brave. We have all sacrificed something to be here. Being outside means something to each of us.

Your behavior is making my experience about you

We need to change how we are acting towards each other outside. 

Stop belittling your own experience, you are not “a lowly section hiker”
Stop asking “The Backpacker Four”
Stop acting like you are better than everyone because of your miles/gear/gender/etc
Stop the hyper-masculine bravado
Stop being silent as the female hikers around you are being harrassed
For the love of god, STOP “Pink-Blazing” 

Women shouldn’t have to de-rail their trail plans, spend money they didn’t budget for, get a shuttle/train/bus further up trail just to get away from men. 

It’s gotta stop.
TIME. IS. UP.

I summit Katahdin tomorrow, I am entering the arena that I just described. I am not playing and I will not be hunted, and I will look after my sisters in the wild.

My Name is Katnizz Everdeen

I am an AT Hiker

I don’t believe in the games being played in the woods

The gender gap is real

Outside is for everyone

Down with the Hiker-archy