You CAN’T Go Alone Syndrome

Walt Whitman said:

“Not I, nor anyone else can travel that road for you.

You must travel it by yourself.

It is not far. It is within reach.
Perhaps you have been on it since you were born, and did not know.”
“When I tell my friends/family/church members/strangers at the grocery store I am going hiking/backpacking alone they say you can’t/shouldn’t/will be raped and or killed/need to take a gun or partner/need a swift kick in the butt so you’ll stay home.”

I don’t think men get slammed with the adventure shaming that women do.  But I do know that nearly every woman I have ever spoken with about the outdoors has had someone along the way assure her she’s doomed or else she’s just decided that ‘fact’ for herself.

It’s worse when a woman is younger or is any age but has children she’s planning to leave behind to go adventuring.

I homeschooled and with that came a few instances of other people deciding they knew more than me about my choices.  I have discovered the same approach to nay-sayers there can be applied here, with a little different wording.

1.  If the person voicing an opinion is not supporting you financially or being asked to look after your children, pets or home while you will be gone, they get zero say.  Period. It does not matter how much they love and care and worry for you. They don’t get a vote.

2. If the person voicing an opinion has no experience in what you are undertaking, they get zero say.

3. The person is voicing an opinion that is fear based (you will be attacked, you will get lost, you will be injured) is saying more about themselves and their own fears than what they think may happen to you.

4.  If the person voicing an opinion is only saying negative without a single positive suggestion (“take a gun” is not positive) then you need to shut them down.  Tell them this topic is no longer open for discussion.

5.  If ‘everyone you come into contact with’ says you are crazy, you need to shut up.  You’ve picked the wrong support system and nothing you are saying is changing anyone’s mind.  Find new support.

6. Educate yourself, every day.  Read, write, hike, plan, pick up skills like map reading, first aid, knot tying.  Get yourself more fit, learn some recipes, learn some songs, learn to build a fire, use your equipment, set up your tent with your eyes shut.  The more confident you feel, the easier it is to brush off negative comments. Instead of wasting time wondering if because so many people are being negative that they might have a point, you will simply know…”I can handle it.”

I’ll add a few more not modified from my homeschool list:

Use common sense.  If your gut says something is up, stop and look around.

If there is someone who creeps you out at the trailhead, be proactive.  Do something like grab your phone and take a ‘call’ from the ‘friend who is meeting you on the trail’.  Say into your phone: “That sounds great!  I am taking off now and I will see you in about an hour, can’t wait!”

Have your gear ready to grab and go so you are not standing in the parking area alone, swapping out shoes, adding or removing last-minute things to your pack and so on.

Don’t post online that you are going to hike XX tomorrow or next Tuesday-direct message the people who need to know.  Don’t Instagram or post specific updates from the trail.  If on a multi-day hike, post a couple of days behind yourself or just wait until you are back home.


6 thoughts on “You CAN’T Go Alone Syndrome

  1. Hate to disabuse you of any of your favorite notions, but men going alone into the wilderness face plenty of questions as well. People who do not go out there will always question those who do and those who do not dare to walk alone will wonder how others can. My family is supportive of my endeavors because I am supportive of theirs, but others question how I can leave them behind and how they can accept that.
    Men also face something you may have never considered; women whose first reaction on seeing a man approaching on trail is to assume he is going to attack them. Few things can bring a darker shadow to a wonderful day on trail then greeting the first person you’ve met in days with a friendly hello only to be treated as a threat for simply existing.
    By all means rage on against those who’d try to talk you out of chasing your dreams, but maybe hold off on making it a male vs female issue. Just because we walk alone doesn’t mean we’re not all in it together.


    1. Thanks for the feedback!
      I have not met a man yet who has ever been questioned about heading off into the woods for the weekend or a few days, and I have not met a mother who hasn’t! Nice to know there are places that’s not the norm.
      It is true that women, especially on their own, can be leery of men. That can’t be easy if you are a nice guy, but unfortunately, not all men are nice. Plus many, thinking it’s being friendly or conversational, will ask if a woman is on her own or plans to camp nearby and that’s scary when you don’t know the person asking. I have had men ask if I were armed or if my dog would bite. When you are 10 miles from the trailhead and it’s nearing dark, those are not things that make a woman feel at ease. That feels like her ability to defend herself being considered.
      It’s all perspective and thanks for sharing yours!


      1. Thanks for taking my comments in the positive spirit they were intended 🙂

        You might be surprised about how varied the ways of the world can be. I am a stay at home dad and my wife has a successful career. When I go on trail the poor thing has to cook for herself and take care of our daughter without my help heh.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. As a man I too experienced the resistance but I think it is based on folks not truly understanding what I was capable of and not understanding why I wanted to challenge myself.
    I get a lot of “stay safe”,”are you carrying a beacon” etc.
    They don’t think I can do it. That said I do overestimate myself at times.
    Strange thing is when I see a woman on the trail I sometimes think “go you!”, along with “she’s brave” which is kinda the same put-down really.
    In the end I block out opinion, listen to advice and try not to judge. Hopefully everyone is out there for the positives and not the negatives.


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