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by Diane Spicer
What's another name for a female hiking partner?
A good trail buddy!
Someone who "gets" it, sharing laughs and bug bites, enduring a soggy night in a leaky tent with you, creating memories one trip at a time...
Ah! Good times.
I started out backpacking with the Girl Scouts, so maybe that's why I'm nostalgic about girlfriend trail time.
Without males around, you can forget about hair styles.
No need to feel weird about wearing the same shirt three days in a row.
Certain subjects tend to come up, and are discussed freely.
Life experiences are shared willingly, without the veneer of acceptability for a male audience.
And I've learned some pretty good jokes from my women trail buddies!
Besides, who else is going to tell you that you have dirt on your face?
Or that your favorite trail shorts need an immediate duct tape repair?
You can find someone to hike with in any of these ways:
Once you've found a woman who matches your schedule and hiking plans, then what?
Assuming you've located a hiking buddy, I'd like to offer a short list of ways to keep your relationships with female hiking partners strong:
1. Be up front with your hiking buddy about your comfort level, your endurance, and your expectations on the trail.
2. Request that she be upfront with you at all times, using respectful communication.
3. Share planning, travel, and trip responsibilities as much as possible.
4. Bring your sense of humor on each and every hike.
5. Don't take yourself too seriously. You can always learn from other people.
6. Surprise your trail buddy once in awhile with a new flavor of energy bar, fresh baked cookies, maybe a birthday lunch that's a touch on the "fancy" side for a hike.
7. What happens on the trail, stays on the trail. No gossiping or oversharing with other folks about your trail buddy.
One thing that I've found works well to keep the chore burden light is to alternate who's in charge of selecting & orchestrating each hike or hiking trip.
Let's take a look at dayhiking versus backpacking chores.
One person volunteers to do the necessary research to select a great destination:
The planner is also usually the driver for that hike.
In return, the hiker who is the recipient of all that planning treats the planner to a hot dinner on the drive home, and provides top notch co-piloting, trail companionship, and humor.
Also, some mighty fine trail snacks.
On the next hike, the duties switch.
There's probably no need to keep track of mileage or dinner costs in any formal manner because it all seems to even out over time.
It takes a lot of preparation to pull off a great backpacking trip.
Read this to get started.
One general way to divide chores is to have your trail buddy select a few destinations she'd like to tackle for the upcoming season.
You do the same.
Then sit down over a cup of tea and look through your map collections, noting the places both of you have chosen.
Once you've got it narrowed down, you can divide up the planning chores along gear, food and paperwork lines.
And once you're on the trail, decide whether one cooks, one cleans each and every day, or if you'll decide in the moment.
Ditto for tent set up and take down.
I find it best to decide ahead of time. In the moment, when you're both tired, hungry and sweaty, it might lead to bruised feelings if one of you is indecisive or irritated.
Here's another consideration.
It's important to find a female hiking partner who matches your hiking abilities.
It's no fun having to slow your pace continuously, or struggle to keep up your hiking partner.
They share the "alpha" female position of leading on the trail, navigation, decisions about turn around time, and other important safety issues.
This may not be true when hiking with males.
An exception to this "rule": if you WANT to be challenged, or are seeking a seasoned outdoors woman as a mentor.
Over the years, after hiking with both males and females, I've noticed that females literally see different things along the trail.
I finally found a book that supports this observation: "Gifts of the Wild: A Woman's Book of Adventure."
This collection of essays ranges all over the map in terms of types of hiking described, but there are certain essays which capture the female ability to SEE in a unique way.Gifts Of The Wild Book
Let me know how you like it!
And be sure to share it with your female hiking partners, maybe as a nice little surprise on your next hiking trip.
Female Hiking Partner