My sister has asked me several times to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. She’s become desperate enough that she now asks, hopefully, if I’ll hike portions of the trail with her. My wilderness soul inside jumps up and yells ‘hell yes!’ and then the inner voice pops up. It reminds me of the last time I hiked up a small hill and had to keep stopping to catch my breath. And that was without a backpack.
One of my closest friends talks about hikes she’s going on. My wilderness soul raises a hand and says, ‘me, too!’. And then the inner voice reminds me of how I slow her down. How she has to wait.
A friend posts photos from some woman/sisterhood/new hippy site of young women out in the wilderness with flowers in their artfully messy hair, and long skirts and cropped eco-hemp tops that show flat tummies. Women with no bras, arms raised in freedom, with tiny breasts. None of these photos show overweight menopausal women in that circle of sisterhood.
Another friend runs an amazing organization that hosts seasonal excursions combining things like learning to track, or weaving baskets, or snowshoeing, with discovering the inner feminine energy. My wilderness soul wishes I was rich so I could sign up for one. Then my inner voice points out the requirements, and how even the easy beginner trips involve backpacking and camping in places other than campgrounds. And then my inner voice looks at the gallery and sees no fat women.
So I walk to the river alone and spend time with the trees and the water and feed my wilderness soul.
But my sisterhood soul is hungry.
Phone calls to one sister, or an overnight visit with the other two, or quick check-ins with female friends are priceless. But there’s something inside still starving. Something deep that wants more than a chat with female friends about how life is going or how work is going or what the latest thing is that their family is up to.
I think that something is yearning for the community of women, a circle, a place of discovery and healing. Although, honestly, something like that would be terrifying as it implies letting go, lifting the lid of control. One of those wilderness trips mentioned dancing. Immediately the wall comes up. ‘Nope, can’t dance, can’t do that in front of people’.
In other words, something inside wants more, but the reality is that I love solitude and anything else is too scary. Failure is a big word. Along with fear. And lack of self-worth. And not belonging. And not fitting in. Not being good enough.
Don’t get me wrong; I have a lot of self-confidence, I love my life, I’m proud of who I am in many ways. Just not in all ways.
And I’m not alone in this. There are many women who look at those new-hippy photos and think, where are the real women? Where are those women who can’t sit on the ground without a hand getting up? Who can’t hike an easy trail without their hips and back aching and their lungs huffing and puffing?
Someone needs to start a wilderness soul-filling sisterhood group for those who don’t fit. It could be called ‘Fat Females in the Forest’ or ‘Old Women Who Wander’ or ‘Discover Your Inner Woman While Camping Close to Facilities’.
I’d sign up.
In the meantime, as a wise friend said, these words hold true for all who feel disconnected. She also said the circle we search for is inside and that is the most difficult circle to join, and the one we need to find first.
Guess I’ll start searching.
11 thoughts on “Wilderness Women…Or Not”
Lol, you are too funny! Fat Females in the Forest… and old women who wander… thats hilarious!!
There are so many wonderful trails up here too and sometimes I want to be just like you said, out there doing that, reaching that peak to enjoy the view. But i can’t walk many stairs these days without huffing and puffing like an old steam engine and that makes me sad. And then I vow I will get better and do more fitness and then I don’t do it…
I try to drive up the mountains I can and cherish the view and stay close to the ocean and enjoy that view and sit by the water and connect to nature.
But I have another thing that keeps me from doing what you are talking about. My fear of the North American wildlife!
Camping in the middle of nowhere? Sounds awesome!! But er, what about bears? And cougars? Or wolfes/coyotes? I think I would never get any sleep….
I would go with you back to that campground by the ocean in Oregon. That was perfect! Safe, by the ocean and a bit adventurous. 😊
I think we need to form a Fat Wilderness Women group! And you can’t fool me. You walked a lonely woodland road in the pitch black all alone, in spite of our bears and cougars. But yes, a camping trip to the ocean would be good. And keep touching wilderness in the ways you can. We’ll walk to the river when you’re here.
Hey sister! I actually belong to a “fat women on the trail” Facebook group. But this wandering old lady. Ant remember what it’s cslled. You are wonderful!!!!
You?!? Who are so NOT a fat wilderness woman? Let me know when you remember the name of that group.
Dear Lisa, I love this so much!!! I would totally sign up for ‘Fat Females in the Forest’ — although I am not sure I would be welcome, or fit in, any better than I would with all the skinny rugged young women who do some of the other hikes you mentioned — and I absolutely beamed at ‘Discover Your Inner Woman While Camping Close to Facilities’. Yes PLEASE. I love nature and always wish I were spending more time in it. Then I go outside and remember that I have tight muscles and completely city-dwelling clothes and I sunburn within half an hour and I always have to pee and bugs adore me, and I don’t know how to do anything outdoorsy.
In fact, I have been taking my toddler (trying to avoid using her name in conjunction with my WP) to a forest class once a week, and it’s lovely and inclusive, but pretty much every time I wonder if she and I are both doing it wrong, because we’re slow and observational compared to the other kids who are wading in the creek or going far afield.
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Slow and observational seems the perfect way to ‘forest-bathe’ to me. And you dance! In front of people. I so envy that freedom in you, of body and expression.
Hello! I just have to share this site a ran across. Jenny organizes hikes for women who feel they don’t fit the stereotype of what a “hiker” should be — whatever that is. Check it out at https://jennybruso.com/
That’s great! Thanks for sharing.
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I’d join any one of those wilderness groups:) I’m a leisurely hiker and don’t want to do any of it hardcore, it might be worth it for these stunning views and scenic shots though.
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I guess what I would add to the conversation, given recent events in my life, is: don’t wait for the right time, right conditions, etc.
If hiking and woods time is important to you recognize this and just go.
I plan on a lot of walking in the next three weeks, and when I’m back, let’s wander in the woods together.