Monday, February 25, 2013

The independent women of northeast Oregon

I skied back to my car after a peaceful slog up the river (why people think cross country skiing is boring is beyond me). As I put away my skis, another woman arrived with hers. We talked, our breaths cloudy in the morning air. Still another woman skied up. We all laughed. "We need to call each other next time," we say.

We always say this, but we hardly ever do. One of the things I love about this place is that there are so many women who feel comfortable going solo. In other places I have felt like a freak, pummeled with questions about why I would ever want to do this, why I don't carry a gun, and made to feel like a social outcast. But there's something freeing about being solo. All you hear is the slide of your skis on the fresh snow. The decisions are all yours to make. There are no excuses, no turn-around times, no adjusting of pace.

I spent years as a wilderness ranger, and this gave me the courage and desire to go solo. When you are solo, you can't have meltdowns and sit sobbing in the trail, waiting for rescue. Going solo forces you to pick yourself up and figure it out on your own. That is a valuable skill to have even when you aren't in the woods.

Here in this county at the end of the road, I have seen women solo trail running on the moraine, silhouetted against the sky. I have seen them carrying packs down from the high lakes. I have seen them kayaking, mountain biking, and skiing. And while a loose-knit social thread binds us all, it's the solo travelers that I feel the closest to. They get it.


  1. I agree Mary. I love our little corner for many reasons, but one of them is the size of the population of women here that 'get it'.
    We do live in a magic place, and I feel a comfort out there solo that I wouldn't feel in many other places. I would still get out there, but it wouldn't be the same.

  2. I love how you use the word "slog" with affinity and pleasure. There is adventure even in slog. Lovely post, thanks for sharing and "getting it"!


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