There is nothing more inspirational to me than seeing a woman in the outdoors. Whether she’s bagging peaks or simply relaxing at her campsite, it’s refreshing to see women out experiencing the natural world. I truly believe Instagram has done wonders in forging ahead a new path for women in the outdoors. It has given us an easily accessible platform to share our experiences and motivate each other into participating in activities which can still be considered taboo in today’s society. When I open up my feed, I am flooded by photos of women back packing, hiking, camping, rock climbing, surfing, road tripping, traveling to foreign lands, and breaking ground further and further into a world previously and arguably still, dominated by men.
I have always considered myself an independent woman. I have never feared being on my own, and I have never thought twice about being able to do and doing all the things that the boys can do. Although, this honestly doesn’t come as much of a surprise to me the more I reflect upon my background. I have come from a long line of incredibly strong women who have been pioneers and strongholds in their fields. My Nana is the absolute strongest woman I know. She survived two wars in England, two bouts of TB, and several types of cancers. She was separated from her family many times during WW2, and eventually left her home behind to move countries and start a career in medicine. She eventually became head of an entire hospital ER department down in South Florida in the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s. My grandmother moved around countries with my military grandfather before the collapse of their marriage, where she went on to work full-time to provide for the four children she raised on her own. This taking place in an era where this was looked down upon. My mother is a powerhouse in all aspects of her life. She spent 6 months studying and backpacking around Europe in college, and is now a professor in exercise science, leading grant research and educating our future doctors and scientists. She has always been a go getter, and has thrived in a heavily male concentrated field. Independence and strength run through the blood in my family. We are a line of women who don’t back down, and who don’t see the lines in the sand indicating what we can or cannot do.
However, these stories, my stories, are not just my stories. These are the stories of women all over the world. Families of women coming into their own and breaking down the doors of opportunity. It shouldn’t be surprising that more women are venturing out, pushing the boundaries, and eliminating the confining ideas of what is thought of as safe and appropriate activities for us. We are approaching a fascinating time in our history, where we are raising young girls in a world that is starting to show that we as women are truly capable of whatever we set our minds to. We are learning from the women that came before us, and passing on our knowledge and experiences to the next generation. These social media platforms, as much negative as they can carry these days, are also the very tools we have needed to put our outdoor women (and any woman conquering life) on a canvas for all other young women and older women alike to gain inspiration and realization that we can accomplish our dreams.
There are so many women out there that I have never met and will likely never meet, that I have drawn so much courage and motivation from. I see their pictures post back packing trips and world travels, and I say to myself, “Well if she can do that, I certainly can.” I have spent umpteen hours perusing the accounts of women I admire, pulling ideas from their endeavors. I have a bucket list the size of an encyclopedia and it’s only growing. It’s for this reason that I find so much joy in sitting down and sharing my experiences and knowledge with others seeking out their own adventures. I want everyone to be able to experience what I have. You learn so much about yourself when you can go get lost in nature or delve into new and unfamiliar landscapes and cultures. The stories I have read of women coming to crossroads in their lives, hitting rock bottom, fighting through illnesses and disease, overcoming devastating obstacles and finding healing and strength in the wild, is beyond what words can describe. Personally, it’s like getting back to my roots, hitting the reset button on all the “stuff” that weighs on me in every day life. It’s a state where I can just be me, through and through. Every time I travel or spend a couple days in the outdoors, I rediscover the woman I know and love within myself. That woman is a force to be reckoned with, kind and compassionate, open minded, freely flowing, and strong enough to climb mountains and beyond. Sometimes she falls by the wayside, but she is always there, waiting for me to get back out there to the wilderness to remind me of who I am.
The adventurous world is not just for men anymore. We are here to experience every daunting peak, every snowy slope, every dirt road, every dense forest and jungle, every winding river, every endless desert and ocean. We are here to experience the tingling of our nerves as we enter the unknown, the butterflies in our stomachs in anticipation of a new day, the sheer sensation of awe and disbelief at what this earth has created, and the euphoria that comes with these aforementioned feelings. We are here to get dirt under our fingernails, get bruises and bloody knees, light our own fires, put up our own tents, pack it in and pack it out. We’ll discover foreign lands, summit the highest peaks, surf the toughest swells, and climb the steepest canyon walls. And who knows, maybe we’ll do it all while in a dress. It doesn’t matter. We are strong and courageous women out here traveling the world, finding joy and life and freedom. We are mother nature herself, no matter how many “Be careful,” “Don’t go alone,” or “Are you sure that’s safe?” comments we get. We are women of the wild.