I See A Theme Developing!

Happy Tuesday!  I’m cruising through this week eagerly anticipating our hiking trip this weekend.  In honor of our trip, I thought it was time that I revisited a book I showed you guys a few weeks ago.  I did finish it, and I am long over-due in giving you guys a book review!

I think I’m sensing a developing theme.  Two days in row of thru-hiking talk.  I know I don’t mind ;)

Last year, I read Wild by Cheryl Strayed, and was hit extremely hard by the desire to hike one of the “big” trails here in the U.S.  Since that time, I’ve done so much research on the subject, and it’s gone from a wild fantasy I thought I could never do to a full-blown obsession.  Therefore, you can imagine I snap up any and every book I can find on the subject.

That’s how Hiking the Continental Divide Trail by Jennifer Hanson found its way to my door about a month ago.  I had a few other books lined up in front of this one so by the time I picked it up I was eager to jump in.  It did not disappoint!  Unlike some of the other thru-hiking books I’ve read, I immediately found Jennifer to be a likable person and the evolution that she goes through as a hiker was something I could completely relate to.

Jennifer Hanson and her husband Greg set off in April of 1997 to complete over 2,400 miles on the Continental Divide Trail that winds from the Mexican border in New Mexico all the way to Canada.  I felt drawn to this particular story because it was a tale of a husband and wife team.  This is how I’ve always hiked, and over the last few years John and I have developed a rhythm and routine. It was interesting to see the similarities and differences between Jennifer and Greg.

What I found to be the most powerful part of the story, however, was the almost 900 miles of the trail that Jennifer completed alone.  1,500 miles into their trip, Greg could no longer ignore the agony he was in from a previous injury.  Any hiker will tell you how imperative it is to listen to your body.  An injury can sideline you in any sport, but on the trail it can mean the difference between life and death. Greg did the smart thing and left the trail early, but Jennifer decided to continue alone.  This really spoke to me.  As I said before, I’ve never hiked alone, and, although I think it is smart to have a partner 99% of the time, I can’t help but wonder what that kind of solitude would feel like.  It inspired me to try a trail on my own, and I’m considering a solo hike for the next month or so.  We’ll see how if it pans out!

As Jennifer continued alone, she was keenly aware of the absence of other females on the CDT as well as other trails she was familiar with.  Several passages on this subject stuck out to me.  She spoke about how routinely she would encountered Boy Scout troops on previous hiking trips, and I realized that we as a society push girls toward more “feminine” pursuits from an early age and that leads to very few of us enjoying the outdoors as we grow older.  Boy Scouts go hiking.  What comes to your mind when you think of Girl Scouts?  I was so glad the booked raised this intriguing issue.  It’s gotten me thinking about what I can do to encourage young girls to fall in love with the outdoors.

Overall, I absolutely loved the book.  She even included a detailed breakdown of resources that could serve as a helpful starting point for those wishing to hike the CDT.  The only small critical thing I can say is that the material is a little outdated.  Although the book was only published last year, Jennifer’s hike took place in 1997.  The resources available for the CDT as well as the trail itself have changed drastically in the last fifteen years.  That being said, if you’re not a thru-hiker, that criticism will mean very little to you.  This book is inspirational no matter what journey you happen to be on, and I give it a resounding recommendation!

So what’s up next, you ask?

I know-it’s a sickness :)

What are your thoughts on “girl” vs. “boy” activities?  Do you have any great ideas I could use to inspire young girls?

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20 thoughts on “I See A Theme Developing!

  1. Chelsie @ Balance, Not Scale

    This post (and your enthusiasm) make me smile so brightly!! Your passion really shows, and I love it!!
    I think that anyone — girls and boys — will find themselves limited if they stick to only “gender specific” activities. I think that girls need to get out and play organized sports. I think that boys should learn to dance and cook. Being introduced to well-rounded activities is the best way for children to explore and find their true passions. If you’re pigeon-holed and limited, it’s incredibly hard to do this.
    Here’s to you finding who you love, what you love, and how you love to live!! :)

    Reply
  2. Carrie

    Great review, Natalie! From your description, I’m really intrigued about the husband-wife team, which then changes to a wife-solo hike; it sounds fascinating.

    I agree with Chelsie’s comment; binaries, like specific “girl” and “boy” activities, are extremely limiting and harmful for both girls and boys. I was lucky because my parents encouraged me to pursue a wide range of activities–ballet, basketball, viola, you name it. I know I’ll do the same for my kids and let them do what makes them happy. :)

    Reply
    1. Natalie @ Free Range Human Post author

      That’s how my parents were with me, and I think it was so beneficial. I think you would really like this book. I’ve also read two other books about women doing long trails alone. Becoming Odyssa (I can’t remember the author!), and Wild by Cheryl Strayed. They both did the entire trail by themselves. So impressive!

      Reply
    1. Natalie @ Free Range Human Post author

      That would be so cool! I’ve had so many people express an interest in hiking which is exactly why I started this blog. It thrills me to death! Perhaps I should start a hiking service? :) The husband and I may be going to Vermont this summer to hike. You just come on up and meet us there! ;)

      Reply
        1. Natalie @ Free Range Human Post author

          Well, we’ve started talking about doing The Long Trail which starts at the Vermont/Mass. border and goes to Canada. We’ll probably do it sometime in July. You are more than welcome to come and join us for part of it!

          Reply
    1. Natalie @ Free Range Human Post author

      I know I was super impressed. The first book I read about thru-hiking was Wild by Cheryl Strayed. So good! I think it had such an impact on me because it was the first book that made me start thinking about doing a long trail myself. Now I’m obsessed!

      Reply
  3. Change of Pace

    Ooh, that book sounds great! I’m really impressed she went that far alone!
    I also love hiking but would be way too scared to do it alone! If you went alone, would you try just a couple hours hike to start?

    Reply
    1. Natalie @ Free Range Human Post author

      I know! I had never really thought about it in relation to hiking before I read this book, but it’s totally true. We always run into Boy Scout troops on the trail. Plus, she made the point that most of the women who do hike got into because of a husband or boyfriend, and when I looked at my experiences I definitely found that to be true. I want to do something to change that theme!

      Reply
  4. Tiff

    What pretty pictures; I wanna hike there! :) That’s a really inspirational story. I don’t think I could walk in the woods that long alone. I get scared of creepy noises at night in my own house!

    Reply
    1. Natalie @ Free Range Human Post author

      Most of the pictures were taken during our trip this summer to Glacier National Park which is the Continental Divide goes through. It was so pretty! One of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. I’m a little nervous about attempting a solo hike myself-the woods get scary at night!

      Reply
  5. Jorie

    Very interesting post, Natalie! I couldn’t help but compare your Girl Scout/Boy Scout mention to my own experience. I actually quit Brownies (the precursor to Girl Scouts) because we only went on one camp-out for the entire year! I was like, what is this shit?! I signed up to do some outdoor activities, and we ended up doing a lot of sewing, baking, domestic indoor things. So I quit. I think there really would be a market for some type of “outdoor” club that is not the Girl Scouts of America that really focuses on getting little girls out and about in the wild in a safe, fun way.

    Reply

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