We declared 2017 the Year of the Outdoor Woman, and by doing so we brought to the forefront the inspiring stories of women in the outdoors who have faced scrutiny and doubt based purely on their gender. It’s the damnedest thing: Women like Bobbi Gibb, Lynn Hill, Ashima Shiraishi, Gert Boyle, and Adeline Hornbek pushed the envelope of their worlds and the expectations of women in their time, and each of them redefined the role of women by doing so.
A man once said imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. We should celebrate the women of the outdoors, and living by their example is one of the best ways to do this. This summer is your opportunity to push the limits of what you think is possible—not to make a statement, but to seek and to subvert within yourself the beliefs you thought were incontrovertible. The outdoors is one of the best places to find and subvert your fears, you just need to find the edge of your comfort zone and cross the threshold.
To do this, grow from what you know. If you like to boulder, do it outside, or test your fears with sport climbing. If you like to day hike, plan a short backpacking trip into a remote area. If you ski or snowboard in the winter, there are peaks in the summer that keep their winter coats, and you can ride them with a little planning and effort.
The rule of thumb: baby steps. Challenge your fears with humility and foresight—and perhaps an experienced hand to help guide you.
At the Outdoor Project, we have all of them.
Thru-trails crisscross the country, and we’ve written about many of them. Thirty miles is a great place to start: It is long enough to challenge your endurance and short enough to simplify planning and prevent for the worst. Also see our video gallery, where you’ll find plenty of instructional videos that will help you understand how to keep yourself safe for your short sojourn.