Thursday, March 18, 2010

Move over frat boys, the sorority sisters are moving in!!!

Written By: Emily Ginger

After day one on the trail my ankle gave me intolerable pain with every step. How could this be happening??? I spent $200 on a pair of hiking boots and they did nothing but injure me! When we finally rolled up to Neels Gap, 30.7 miles into the trail, we found a haven equipped with a hiker's hostel and a gear store. I walked into the gear store, sat down in the shoe department and said "can you help me fix my ankle?" They set me up with a new pair of shoes that alleviated the pain entirely, and I shipped my muddy boots home. I felt like I was given a new pair of feet. We stayed the night in Neels Gap where I got to know all the staff, they filled my head with tips and advice for how to load my pack and keep my body weight up. Everyone there was friendly especially Baltimore Jack, and their hospitality/ encouragement gave me a huge boost of confidence.

We trudged on from Neels Gap (in the rain) and when we arrived at our destination for the night, the shelter was full and we had no tents. I thought we would have to spend the night sleeping in the mud under the shelter, with all the mice. No way! There was a young man who had arrived at the same time as us and was assembling his 2- person tent. I invited myself to sleep in his tent with him for the night, and he obliged. Based on his reaction, I think it's rare for a woman in these parts to be so bold. I was thankful to have a dry and semi-warm place to rest my head for the night. Temperatures that night and the following two nights went below freezing- it was so cold!

The longer I am out here, the more apparent it becomes that the thru-hiking community is predominantly composed of men, many of whom neglect to show me respect and aknowledge that I exist. Some have implied that I shouldn't be out here, and that long distance hiking is a man's leisure activity. After three nights of tolerating these fraternity house attitudes, and enduring the skeptical glances, I decided to show the men why I am out here. On Wednesday morning everyone packed up and moved out to hike the ten miles to Dick's Creek Gap (where we had our box of food hidden). I waited until all the men had started hiking, and then I took off like lightning down the trail. Within five miles, I passed every single one of those men, and I left them eating my trail of dust. I was hoping to show them that I am just as physically and mentally capable as they are. I finished the ten miles in record time, so I sat around waiting and watching as all the men I had passed hours ago arrived. When the man who had been sending dirty looks in my direction arrived, he finally asked me "what's your name?" It worked! I put them all in their place and gained their respect as a fellow thru-hiker. Now they were interested in knowing who I am.

When the rest of our "Traveling Circus" arrived, Kate and I wandered into the woods to find our resupply box full of food. Much to my surprise, the box was still there- the bears somehow overlooked our stash and we lucked out! I took the box under my arm, and headed to the road crossing at Dick's Creek Gap, raised my thumb up in the air and we hitched a ride into town.


  1. Good for you, Ginger, way to stick up for yourself. I really would recommend a tent,tarp, or bivy for this trip. Kind of surprised the folks at Neel's Gap let you get away without one. Call 'em, maybe they can fix you up someway-somehow.
    Have a good day.

  2. I'm mainly here to follow Kate, but I love your story. There's no better feeling than proving them wrong! Girl Power!

  3. Ha...I can definitely picture that. Fantastic. Especially because you didn't train!

    Hope you're still doing well.

  4. wow... really? BRING A TENT. you do not have a right to a shelter because YOU are unprepared. I can't believe you seriously made this post.... maybe they "implied" you shouldn't be out there because without a tent, YOU SHOULDN'T!

  5. "Based on his reaction, I think it's rare for a woman in these parts to be so bold."

    Uh, maybe he was just shocked that you would be so unprepared as to not have a tent. I don't think that it has anything to do with "these parts."

  6. Ok Emily. You need to explain. I know you took a tent with you because it was delivered to the house and I saw it with my very eyes. What's going on daughter?


  7. I can't believe she has this enormous chip on her shoulder. Hiking is neither a male dominated nor sexist activity. Some women on the trail are the fastest hikers out there, some are the slowest. As for "inviting" herself into someone else's tent, I would have told her to buzz off and get your own. She could have asked someone in the shelter if they could use their tent, still a little inconsiderate, but much less rude. Not to mention dangerous, for either a man or woman.

  8. Hey Em, I am not surprised that you were faster than everyone. If I was a betting lady, which I am, I would bet on you over a mountain goat or a puma or some other form of mountain-dwelling creature. You are a machine. Keep going!


    p.s. Chompy is happily sleeping next to me on the couch. I am glad it is you hiking and not me.

  9. You invited yourself into somebody else's tent and then won a race against people who didn't know that they were racing? That's unusual in any part of the country. All the hikers I've met have been more than polite to everyone. I think you should be more willing to give your fellow backpackers the benefit of the doubt. You may be bringing your prejudices to a place in which they don't belong.

  10. The people paying attention don't respect you, they found out that you hop in tents with random guys and are chatting you up in hopes of pink blazing.

  11. It's not a race, it's just hiking. Sheesh.

  12. I do have a tent, but since we hadn't needed them thus far, we decided to mail them ahead a couple of days so we could ditch the tent weight. Needless to say, my lesson was learned- carry my tent!

    Also, by no means did I demand a spot in someone else's tent, I kindly asked. I very much appreciate my now friend "All Good's" generosity in extending a spot in his tent to me because otherwise I would have been wet, muddy, and freezing cold!

  13. i'm proud of you! i have been enjoying similar adventures in central and south america (though i don't think quite as strenuous) and i must say, you give me even more inspiration! who cares that you didn't have a tent on your person at this venture. there is NO WAY you can prepare yourself for what you are not expecting. i say kudos to you for making due with what you had: your confidence and other people's kindness.

    keep that chin up em (and the rest), you're going to do fine!

  14. So glad you cleared up the tent question. Too many people had their "knickers in a twist" over that one. Tell your new friend "All Good" to come see us if he ever comes through Chicago. I love meeting new people, don't you? Love, Mom.

  15. "who cares that you didn't have a tent on your person at this venture. there is NO WAY you can prepare yourself for what you are not expecting."

    Gonna have to disagree. It should be assumed that this mountain environment can experience cold rains year round, and snow is not uncommon this time of year.

    Hate to beat a dead horse, but what you've described has many of the characteristics of the beginnings of typical life-threatening survival situations. Even though you plan on making it to the next shelter, unexpected circumstances, such as an injury that limits your mobility, could require you to find/make nearby shelter. Searching around for one greatly increases the likelihood of becoming lost. The AT is pretty forgiving due to its proximity to populations, but you shouldn't let your guard down because of it. Not trying to frighten you. Just please carry some sort of shelter. Rant off.

    On a lighter note, it looks like you're handling the other challenges of the trail pretty well. I'm enjoying the blog, and can't wait to see the video.

  16. Oh yeah, and where were the tentless girls during my hike? xD

    Sorry, couldn't contain my frat boy humor.