Sometimes I want to live without compromise. Hiking alone, running alone, kayaking alone, I can ease into the flow of my own pace. I don't have to wait for people or run to catch up or debate the merits of stopping early or turning around due to weather. "I can't believe you went out last week," a friend says, referring to the torrential rain that dumped a fire-season-ending event on the mountains, and I was out, hiking in it. If someone had been with me, there would have been either grim determination on the part of the one who wanted to go home, or reluctance to leave on someone else's. Let's stick it out! versus hell with this! and the constant tiptoe dance of are you okay with this? that women just aren't that great at, but guys have no problem with. Look, this pace isn't working for me, I'm going to go ahead. This isn't fun, I'm bailing. Not my style, buddy, see you next time. Women have a hard time with this. The feelings thing. Not wanting to offend, while guys just say it. I wish I had more guy companions, but once I got married they vanished. I don't want to think too much about this.
On my way back down from Frances Lake, after a beautiful solitary trip, I came upon four men gamely hiking upward. About fifteen years older than me, they said they couldn't carry the weight anymore (cringe. Another thing I kind of hate) and so were being packed in by mules. (Four of them. One mule load per guy. Really? "We can eat really good out here now." Can't you eat freeze dried for a couple of days? But I digress). One of them said, "You are by YOURSELF? I could NEVER DO THAT."
I always feel compelled to say something in this situation. Apologize? Say, "I really DO have friends"? "I'm packing pepper spray"? Does this sentiment really come from a place of caring, as one woman said on my private outdoors Facebook group, or is it, like another one posted, a belief that women are fragile creatures that need protecting? Instead I resorted to the old, "Well, I used to be a wilderness ranger, so I'm really comfortable in the woods."
You could see the change in expression. Relief and understanding. "Oh, okay," the man said before rushing to catch up with his friends. I continued on to the "safety" of the real world. I still don't understand it.
|Looking down into Frances Lake, GASP! ALONE!|