Summer CSGC Grant Update: Multiday Hike in White Mountains for Women’s Empowerment

All my life, I’ve faced incredulity from men surrounding my choice to venture with other girls into the woods. When I was nine or ten years old I distinctly remember telling my uncle, who was an avid camper himself, that I was planning to embark on a twenty day hike with ten other girls my age. He paused for a moment then asked my mother if a man was going to come with us, to protect us and “do the hard stuff.” I replied that no, we were going alone and that was the whole point. We could do it ourselves.

In hopes of addressing and drawing attention to this issue I set out to hike part of the New Hampshire Appalachian Trail with Caroline Mahony ’21. In total we hiked seven peaks in four days. We documented our experience as young women hiking the AT through personal journal entries, interviews with fellow female hikers, and our own data collection. The inequality between men and women in the wilderness is prominent; over the course of our hike Caroline and I encountered 121 male section-hikers yet only 63 female section-hikers. Our project strives to empower young girls to feel comfortable embarking on their own adventures in the great outdoors.

These interviews, along with our own journal reflections, will be published on a website of our own creation. I will also return to the trail in mid-July to begin my month-long section hike of Maine collecting more interviews along the way. Thanks to the CSGC for making this opportunity possible and remember to check us out soon!

-Darcy del Real ’22 and Caroline Mahony ’21