Author Topic: Do you feel safe hiking alone?  (Read 31607 times)

BriarRose111

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Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #150 on: April 05, 2015, 07:27:12 PM »
I'm a single woman who enjoys the outdoors - hiking and camping.   I do hike alone.  I usually feel safe.  But I get the OP's concerns. 
I try to be cognizant of what type of area I'm in.   Secluded trails in parks of metro areas are probably not as safe regarding the human factor as trails in State parks or less populated areas.  Generally speaking, of course.   I rely on gut-instinct and intuition and don't push the limits of safety and length of hikes.  If an area I haven't been to feels creepy for whatever reason, I don't hike there.  I have a small dog - 30 lb Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, who now hikes with me.  I realize he is no protection, but he does alert me to other's presence and also has a sixth sense about potential danger.   

mtnrider

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Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #151 on: April 06, 2015, 07:31:18 AM »
As far as men being less biased against women carrying firearms, that's probably because men don't usually feel threatened by women in any situation (OK, except for their ex-wives :-)!). I think most men believe they can easily overpower a woman in any kind of situation - even if she is armed - or they believe women tend to be less violent then men overall and less likely to want to do violence to them unlike some men (armed or unarmed) might do and are capable of doing physically.  It's probably the same reason most women generally aren't afraid of other women.

For me, at least, it's the later.  I don't think it's that I feel threatened, or am calculating how likely I can overpower either a man or a woman.  My heuristic is that a larger subset of men are hot-headed and aggressive vs women.  I think I have good basis for this - for instance, financially, women are generally better traders (the study was for bond traders IIRC) precisely because they're generally more level-headed.

Individuals vary, of course.

Bob W

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Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #152 on: April 06, 2015, 09:06:23 AM »
Would you feel safe picking up a pair of hitchhikers in a relatively remote area?   Probably not.  Probably not 95% of men would.   


Every time I see this tread title I feel less and less safe for some reason.   Perhaps it is the bringing it to light deal?

So I am checking on sourcing a new clip for my little 22 handgun and probably will be taking it with me camping and hiking and hell just about anywhere in the future. 

Bottom line IMHO ---   A female especially is not "safe" hiking alone in remote areas or even moderately traveled areas for that matter.   Most men are probably safer by a large percentage.   A male/female couple is probably pretty safe due to the number factor.   
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Exhale

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Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #153 on: April 06, 2015, 09:24:02 AM »
Every time I see this tread title I feel less and less safe for some reason.   Perhaps it is the bringing it to light deal?

Oh no! I didn't mean this to be an outcome of my OP. I just was looking for how others have found ways to move through this particular fear.

As I've worked on this I realized that it's like any number of fears in that it may or may not be statistically accurate/realistic, but it's real (in my mind) and, therefore, must be addressed. Yes, women face a number of disadvantages and so do many many other people (black men, people with disabilities, a man who prefers to wear a dress, elderly people, etc., etc.) My goal in the OP was to get tips on how, given the fears that most (all) of us have, to move through and beyond them to do a much-loved activity.

The responses to this thread has been fantastic and incredibly helpful, offering as they did a mix of concrete safety steps, practices and tools as well as way to deal with my mind/emotions. I'm grateful to everyone for so generously offering their ideas and suggestions. These have allowed me to feel I can be ready (in practical and mental terms). It won't be easy at first, but I feel that I now know what I need to know to get back out there and hike.

Thank you everyone!

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Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #154 on: April 06, 2015, 09:46:01 AM »
I hike alone quite a bit and love it. Risks from other people are generally pretty small out here in the western US. If there is someone creepy, then use caution. Honestly, I can think of very few times I've run into creepy folks away from the super-highway trails. I also worked as a ranger in a popular national park for a lot of summers and heard exactly one report of mischief in the backcountry: someone had their rack of climbing gear stolen from their tent at a popular group camping area not many miles out. Your drive out to the trailhead is probably more dangerous. IMHO firearms are unlikely to be useful unless you are truly open carrying, which would make most backcountry users identify you as the creepy guy (true or not). A very small container of pepper spray is much more appropriate, easier to use, and - importantly - less lethal. Carrying firearms for bear protection in Alaska is a whole different ballgame and generally involves equipment more on the Dirty Harry end of the spectrum.

Hiking in populated areas and County-type parks at the edges of urban areas should be treated like you would more urban parks. If you feel uncomfortable, strap a small container of pepper spray to your shoulder straps and keep on truckin'. Pepper spray is available in keychain-sized dispensers.

scottish

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Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #155 on: April 06, 2015, 05:45:45 PM »
Quote
Biases: Personally, I'm suspicious of guys hiking with handguns - no matter how friendly they seem - unless they have what I consider a really good reason to carry.  This is just based on personal experience, and it would change if I hiked in Canada or Alaska.  I'm much less biased against women who carry handguns.

Maybe Alaska.   It would be very odd to see someone in Canada carrying a sidearm.   Especially in a National Park, where your firearms must be sealed by the rangers on entry.

Zikoris

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Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #156 on: April 06, 2015, 07:31:53 PM »
Quote
Biases: Personally, I'm suspicious of guys hiking with handguns - no matter how friendly they seem - unless they have what I consider a really good reason to carry.  This is just based on personal experience, and it would change if I hiked in Canada or Alaska.  I'm much less biased against women who carry handguns.

Maybe Alaska.   It would be very odd to see someone in Canada carrying a sidearm.   Especially in a National Park, where your firearms must be sealed by the rangers on entry.

That's what I was thinking! I'm Canadian and would be PRETTY surprised if I saw someone with a gun hiking.
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NoraLenderbee

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Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #157 on: April 06, 2015, 07:35:54 PM »
I've hiked alone in three countries, including one with one of the highest murder/rape rates in the world. I'm fine.

You're a guy, right?

countdown

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Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #158 on: April 06, 2015, 10:14:39 PM »
A woman was raped last year on one of my favorite trails by a man walking with his dog. I try to stay in somewhat populated trails, but like to  get out to be alone, so being in a crowd kind of defeats the purpose! I try to be very aware of the people near me, but really should get a little mini pepper spray canister.

Roland of Gilead

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Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #159 on: April 07, 2015, 07:24:11 AM »
It's happened around here also a few time - close to urban hiking trails where lots of women go alone to workout. But even having a male companion doesn't mean safety. The other night a woman sitting on the beach with her BF (both in their 40's) was raped by a guy with a gun. He made her BF lay face down in the sand and then sexually assaulted the GF. It was on a normally safe beach close to town to a couple who were sitting watching the stars at night.  Of course it was at night but this is a place where many people jog and walk on the sand at all hours for recreation.

See, now if later this guy is arrested and either the BF or woman walks up and kills him Jack Ruby style, I would not be able to convict them.   Maybe that makes me a bad person.

SnackDog

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Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #160 on: July 10, 2017, 01:22:30 AM »
There is a popular jungle hiking trail a couple of miles from our place which was closed this week. News said more than fifty people were robbed on the trail last month. No violence reported but certainly possible. Police have said it is very difficult to ensure safety in the area. If I hike it I will probably have to go without a phone, wallet, etc. One lady I know said she saw muggers take car keys and throw them into the bushes.
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neverrun

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Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #161 on: July 10, 2017, 05:09:11 AM »
I'm also single and depend on situational awareness to make me feel "safer" on a hike.  I honestly keep the attitude that anything can happen to me because I'm female at any time not just when I'm doing "dangerous" things like walking in the woods by myself so why limit myself.  I'm more worried about things like falls when I'm by myself than people.  On the other hand, I'm a decent runner so I'm always ready to put distance between myself an attacker and have the attitude that I don't have to "win" I just have to get far enough away from them that they can't catch me.

JumpInTheFIRE

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Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #162 on: July 10, 2017, 10:50:23 AM »
I had a friend come visit today, and it made me think of this thread. She was on her way home from a solo camping trip. She said that there were a number of different people she came across near her campsite and while walking - a pair of young female British backpackers, two Muslim men, a large group of male mountain bikers, etc. She said that the interesting thing was that although she said "Hello" to all of them as their paths crossed, not a single person would return her welcome. She said they just kept giving her strange glances, like she must be a bit mentally disturbed as a lone, female camper. We joked around that perhaps they were worried she had murdered her husband and buried him in the bush!

As for my own answer to the OP, I fear being out anywhere by myself. Even with our three children along, I feel more comfortable in a very large group of women and children (safety in numbers), or if my husband is with us. I wouldn't plan a solo hike, or a hike for just myself and our kids. It is sad in some ways, but I feel safer when my husband is with us.

Personally, I quit saying hello to women on the trail because I am sick of being treated like a rapist for doing so.  I always say hi to families or groups of men and I'm normally very friendly to people I meet on the trail but every time I say hi to a woman (alone or in groups of only women) I get nothing but hateful stares at the best so I've quit doing it altogether.  I believe this is just a failure to adequately assess risk, similar to fears of terrorism or stranger kidnapping.  I totally empathize with women in this situation, the fear is real and it is awful that they should feel this way about doing such an enjoyable activity but I think the fear is more due to societal conditioning and media sensationalism than actual risk. 

To the OP, do what you feel you need to to feel safe, please don't deprive yourself of an activity you enjoy because of your fear.  If it takes bear spray or a gun or a dog to give you a feeling of empowerment then go for it! 

dividendman

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Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #163 on: July 10, 2017, 01:25:11 PM »
I think people dismissing the fear due to having a much greater statistical chance of being killed or hurt by nature are missing the point.

It's a question of intent. The avalanche doesn't intend to kill you, neither does the slippery rock or steep hill. The person does intend to hurt/kill you.

Yes, I should be more concerned about riding my car to work than about going through that alleyway after the bar at 2am, but you know what? Motorists on their way to work aren't trying to kill me but some dude lurking around in an alleyway might have that intent.

I'm a huge dude. If i'm in an isolated area (or it's late at night etc.) and I see another person (especially a guy) my spidey sense goes off, whether it's warranted or not. I'm usually not "scared" really, I am just really aware of what that person is doing for the duration of the encounter. Maybe I'm the person people mistake as a creep at night because I want to make SURE that other person sees me seeing them as I go about my route.

As for open carrying while hiking, I'll just say this - I've never owned a gun, but I'd rather be perceived to be a creep with an open carry than encounter an actual creep and not have it.

All of that being said, I've never had a bad encounter with a creepy guy (probably due to my size) in my adult life.

partgypsy

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Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #164 on: July 10, 2017, 02:20:49 PM »
Maybe it depends on where you hike. I live in Durham NC. Generally I feel safe, but every year there are reports of muggings and attacking in either Duke Forest trails, Ellerbee creek, or American Tobacco trail on people who are solo. What is disconcerting is that these are popular trials, where people take their kids. Even if it is a couple people a year that get attacked, for me that is enough of an additional risk I would think twice about going it alone. Anyways despite some people's optimism about the human race the fact is some predators use remote or isolated areas like these to target victims.

http://www.wral.com/new-cameras-on-american-tobacco-trail-won-t-be-near-site-of-recent-attacks/13724147/
« Last Edit: July 10, 2017, 02:25:37 PM by partgypsy »

rachael talcott

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Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #165 on: July 10, 2017, 04:23:24 PM »
I am a small woman and I hike alone, mostly on vacation in national parks.  Statistically it is really unlikely that someone is going to attack me. It seems more likely that I'd get lost (no sense of direction) and so I try to check the gps on my phone every so often to make sure I haven't wandered off the trail.

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Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #166 on: July 11, 2017, 01:16:36 AM »
Personally, I quit saying hello to women on the trail because I am sick of being treated like a rapist for doing so.  I always say hi to families or groups of men and I'm normally very friendly to people I meet on the trail but every time I say hi to a woman (alone or in groups of only women) I get nothing but hateful stares at the best so I've quit doing it altogether.  I believe this is just a failure to adequately assess risk, similar to fears of terrorism or stranger kidnapping.  I totally empathize with women in this situation, the fear is real and it is awful that they should feel this way about doing such an enjoyable activity but I think the fear is more due to societal conditioning and media sensationalism than actual risk.

The thing is, women don't react with fear because of news stories. They react with fear because of actual previous interactions they've had with men. It's great that you're not a rapist, but women just don't know that when they come across you in an isolated spot. All they know is their previous history of men sometimes ignoring their boundaries. There's nothing irrational about this.

MoonLiteNite

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Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #167 on: July 12, 2017, 02:12:21 AM »
I'm a short female and feel at a disadvantage (my worry is human predators)

I personally bring the great equalizer with me. It doesn't care how tall, short, light, weak, or slow you are. It has helped me do alot more solo hiking, even more so since i am a 2nd shift worker.

edit: a firearm

Secretly Saving

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Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #168 on: July 12, 2017, 06:27:09 AM »
30s Female here. Love to go hiking in the US.  All of my negative experiences with groping, cat calls etc have all been while abroad.  I worry about it every time I go out, but I don't let it stop me from enjoying the beauty of nature and the recharge I get from having this "me" time.

paddedhat

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Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #169 on: July 12, 2017, 08:14:06 AM »
A long time ago, maybe thirty years back, there was a small number of really ugly murders of female hikers, on the Appalachian trail. Shortly after, a major outdoors magazine got together with some statisticians, and found IIRC, that you are about twenty one million times safer, sleeping alone in the wilderness, while hiking the AT, that you were sleeping in your apartment in NYC.

jrhampt

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Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #170 on: July 12, 2017, 10:02:03 AM »
I am a woman.  I frequently run, bike, and hike alone (although I do not do overnight hikes alone).  I do occasionally see news reports of rapes occurring on trails that I use.  It bothers me sometimes, but I am not willing to stop living my life.  It is just not feasible to have a partner every single time I do an outdoor activity.

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Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #171 on: July 12, 2017, 10:32:18 AM »
My spidey senses do kick in more when on the trail alone. I carry my pocket knife and a very loud emergency whistle when I go hiking. But haven't had any issues thus far with hiking alone. But my family freaked out the first time I did it!

GuitarStv

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Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #172 on: July 12, 2017, 10:43:52 AM »
I don't typically hike in areas that I'll see people, but have never felt unsafe around others in the woods.

dcamnc

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Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #173 on: July 12, 2017, 08:55:06 PM »
I hike/run/fitness walk alone most of the time. As a fairly in-shape guy I rarely feel nervous. I will say that I do tend to make single females nervous when I pass them from behind or cross paths. I feel bad that some get nervous, but I'm still gonna do my walks.

stripey

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Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #174 on: July 13, 2017, 01:24:06 AM »
I hike (multi-day) alone, as a small woman in her thirties in Australia. I tend to hike on the less populated areas, and will 'stealth camp' if I don't like the look of someone on the trail or at a campsite.

The farther away from a trailhead (or civilisation) the safer I feel to be honest. Most of the guys I've met that have made me feel uncomfortable have been found on very popular tracks or close to a main road.

Mace is illegal to carry (with a few exceptions in a few states) and carrying a firearm 'for self defence' is not typically the done thing in Australia.

snapperdude

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Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #175 on: July 14, 2017, 12:18:34 AM »
A long time ago, maybe thirty years back, there was a small number of really ugly murders of female hikers, on the Appalachian trail. Shortly after, a major outdoors magazine got together with some statisticians, and found IIRC, that you are about twenty one million times safer, sleeping alone in the wilderness, while hiking the AT, that you were sleeping in your apartment in NYC.

Let's say the small number was two. This would mean there were at least 42 million murders in NYC over whatever time period they studied. I must have missed this story in the news.

Alps

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Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #176 on: July 14, 2017, 02:22:32 AM »
The farther away from a trailhead (or civilisation) the safer I feel to be honest. Most of the guys I've met that have made me feel uncomfortable have been found on very popular tracks or close to a main road.

This! This is exactly my experience, and it makes sense - if somebody wants to attack, they will not chose isolated areas where maybe 5 people a day pass, but popular hikes. As long as it's not so crowded that people actually walk within eyesight of each other, that's the place to go (for would-be attackers).

That said, I always carry a fairly big pocket knife on my hikes (solo or not), and I've been known to "casually clean my fingernails" when I feel uncomfortable. I'm just minding my own business, but I have the knife ready for action, which gives me peace of mind and should also make anybody else think twice. Also works on trains!

PowerMustache

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Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #177 on: July 14, 2017, 02:43:05 AM »
A long time ago, maybe thirty years back, there was a small number of really ugly murders of female hikers, on the Appalachian trail. Shortly after, a major outdoors magazine got together with some statisticians, and found IIRC, that you are about twenty one million times safer, sleeping alone in the wilderness, while hiking the AT, that you were sleeping in your apartment in NYC.

Let's say the small number was two. This would mean there were at least 42 million murders in NYC over whatever time period they studied. I must have missed this story in the news.

To get your 42 million number, I think you're assuming that the populations of NYC and the AT are the same. I believe the correct way to check paddlehat's recall of the 21 million factor is: 2 x 21 million x population of AT / population of NYC. Assuming 1000 people sleep on the AT each night and 20 million people sleep in the greater NYC metro each night, the number of murders in the study period would be 2,100, not 42 million. So that's at least somewhat reasonable - quick google search shows 335 people murdered in NYC in 2016. If the study period was 7 years, then it would be approximately 21 million times more likely to be murdered in NYC than on the AT (since 335 murders per year x 7 years is about 2100).

Any others want to check my math? This actually seems like a useful math problem if it would help to allay some fears about dangers of others while hiking alone.

dreams_and_discoveries

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Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #178 on: July 14, 2017, 02:57:17 AM »
Yes I feel safe in the outdoors from "bad people", urban hunting grounds are much easier for them.

I have minor concerns over hurting myself, so would stray too far off path unless I was in an area with a decent signal.

I'm a small female, and feel you can't let people intimate you. I don't mind people who say hi when hiking, but people who want to walk with you do irritate me...

lost_in_the_endless_aisle

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Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #179 on: July 14, 2017, 08:08:52 PM »
A long time ago, maybe thirty years back, there was a small number of really ugly murders of female hikers, on the Appalachian trail. Shortly after, a major outdoors magazine got together with some statisticians, and found IIRC, that you are about twenty one million times safer, sleeping alone in the wilderness, while hiking the AT, that you were sleeping in your apartment in NYC.

Let's say the small number was two. This would mean there were at least 42 million murders in NYC over whatever time period they studied. I must have missed this story in the news.

To get your 42 million number, I think you're assuming that the populations of NYC and the AT are the same. I believe the correct way to check paddlehat's recall of the 21 million factor is: 2 x 21 million x population of AT / population of NYC. Assuming 1000 people sleep on the AT each night and 20 million people sleep in the greater NYC metro each night, the number of murders in the study period would be 2,100, not 42 million. So that's at least somewhat reasonable - quick google search shows 335 people murdered in NYC in 2016. If the study period was 7 years, then it would be approximately 21 million times more likely to be murdered in NYC than on the AT (since 335 murders per year x 7 years is about 2100).

Any others want to check my math? This actually seems like a useful math problem if it would help to allay some fears about dangers of others while hiking alone.
I think being safer can be meaningfully quantified only by the probability, not just a count of incidents. NYC's murder rate is 3 per 100,000 per year (though not sure how many of those occur while "sleeping in your apartment"). A murder rate 21M times lower on the AP would imply an AP murder rate of 1.4 per 1 trillion per year. Using all violent crime in NYC instead we have 600 per 100,000 per year for the city and 2.9 per 10 billion for the AP.

Assuming 5 murders over the last 50 years on the AP and 10,000 people on the trail each night, that is a murder rate of 1 per 100,000 per year, or 3 times safer than NYC (and 3 times more dangerous than Japan). I think the PCT is safer (zero murders?).

SnackDog

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Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #180 on: July 15, 2017, 03:29:35 AM »
Chances of being murderd anywhere can be effectively mitigated to the point that the chance is effectively zero. I say this because when you look at the majority of those murdered, they were engaging in behaviors which greatly increased their risk of murder. Totally random daylight murders in relatively safe public places are extremely rare.

 I live in a city with a super high murder rate including those shot by police.  I hear sustained automatic rifle fire a couple times a month within a kilometer of my apt. But I limit where I go during daylight and limit further where I go after dark. I restrict the people with whom I associate and the activities in which I engage to minimize my chance of being murdered. I walk the dog at all hours and am not overly concerned although I'm pretty aware of surroundings at all times and actively spot and avoid people on the street who appear dangerous. I would feel a million times safer hiking anywhere in North America including grizzley areas.
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MidWestLove

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Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #181 on: July 15, 2017, 01:29:38 PM »
I think you should start with thinking through few things first
- how important is this activity to me
- what I am willing and not willing to do in particular situations (protecting myself from say rapist of opportunity or some other scumbag)? am I willing to use force to stop them, if yes, to what extent ,etc ?  What about someone else, am I willing to deploy force if I think I am defending other? where are my boundaries? when will I act? when will I act without hesitation?

The more thinking/mental processing you can do in advance, the better your chances are should you have to face it - the time to think through all of the dilemmas and go through soul searching is NOT when you are facing the situation. 



If you are willing to use force and your laws/jurisdiction allow you to carry a firearm, it should be first consideration - it is the best tool specifically designed for that purpose (protecting your life and health). Get something that suits you, learn how to use it and it is no more complicated than any other tool you already use successfully.

if you are willing to use force and your laws don't allow that  (move!) , then either concealed means concealed or fall back to other tools (spray, hand to hand weapons, etc). Just know that effectiveness (both as deterrent and in stopping power) or all other tools is significantly smaller than that of the firearm.

if you are not willing to use force to protect your health and self, then think through other plans and again consider priority of the activity for your life.

« Last Edit: July 15, 2017, 01:34:16 PM by MidWestLove »

MidWestLove

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Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #182 on: July 15, 2017, 01:30:10 PM »
SnackDog,

Thank you for your perspective, basically - don't go to stupid places with stupid people to do stupid things ,right?

Villanelle

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Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #183 on: July 16, 2017, 12:27:43 AM »
You all realize the murder (or murder and rape) aren't the only bad things that can happen, right?

I think dismissing these concerns by tossing out numbers on murder stats grossly misses the larger point.  And I think generally the people who do that are men who are good, respectful people, and thus they simply can't imagine the reality, because it is so far removed from the way they think.  And that's a good thing, but it can cause some unfair assumptions about the women who are nervous about engaging with strangers.  It can make them look unreasonable or paranoid or snobby.  But the reality is that not everyone is kind and decent and respectful, and she has no way of knowing which type you are.

http://yourdailydish.com/man-harasses-belly-dancer-facebook/ Here's a semi-related story about a woman on Facebook who was contacted by a man.  He kept asking her if she found him attractive.  She asked him not to call her again after her repeatedly did and she did not respond.  Then he got crazy, insulting her and messaging her again and again and again.  Read it.  And all that came because she asked him not to call her again and didn't respond to Facebook messages from a stranger asking if she found him attractive.

You wonder why a woman might look away when you smile at her, especially in a semi-isolated area?  She probably doesn't think you are going to rape and murder her, but she may well think--for good reason and based on many life experiences--that there is a not-insignificant chance that even the slightest engagement will lead to harassment.  It happens.  So much.  And people who are good and decent and respectful people have a hard time accepting that, because they and the people with whom they surround themselves would never behavior that way, so it doesn't appear to be the reality of life. But it happens.  Ask any woman who does online dating sites how many unsolicited dick pics she's gotten, or how many times she's been called nasty names for not responding exactly as the sender would have liked. 

So yes, it makes women defensive.  And no, that's not because we are too dumb at accurately assess risk.  It's because experience has shown us that when we engage, it can and does turn brutal rather quickly, especially in isolation (like Facebook, or a hiking trail where there is no one to witness bad behavior).  I'm sure it sucks a lot to smile at someone and have them avert their eyes.  Having lived in Europe and smiled at people like an American is wont to do and a German is not, I get it.  But try to understand that there's a good reason for it, shored up by plenty of ugly experiences. 

Cressida

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Re: Do you feel safe hiking alone?
« Reply #184 on: July 16, 2017, 11:33:58 PM »
You wonder why a woman might look away when you smile at her, especially in a semi-isolated area?  She probably doesn't think you are going to rape and murder her, but she may well think--for good reason and based on many life experiences--that there is a not-insignificant chance that even the slightest engagement will lead to harassment.  It happens.  So much.  And people who are good and decent and respectful people have a hard time accepting that, because they and the people with whom they surround themselves would never behavior that way, so it doesn't appear to be the reality of life. But it happens.  Ask any woman who does online dating sites how many unsolicited dick pics she's gotten, or how many times she's been called nasty names for not responding exactly as the sender would have liked. 

So yes, it makes women defensive.  And no, that's not because we are too dumb at accurately assess risk.  It's because experience has shown us that when we engage, it can and does turn brutal rather quickly, especially in isolation (like Facebook, or a hiking trail where there is no one to witness bad behavior).  I'm sure it sucks a lot to smile at someone and have them avert their eyes.  Having lived in Europe and smiled at people like an American is wont to do and a German is not, I get it.  But try to understand that there's a good reason for it, shored up by plenty of ugly experiences.

Well said.