Women Alone In Nature


“To hike alone as a woman is dangerous,” says Tom Crowell, a hiking guide with Outback Guide service in Dahlonega, Georgia. Crowell firmly believes that women cannot hike safely alone, and he points to the case of Meredith Emerson as an example of the worst that could happen. 

(Photo: Hike in Colorado by Mackenzie Anderson)

Crowell says that when hiking alone “you are missing the safety net of another person.”

He says that there are three types of people that hike. There are hikers who are serious and experienced with good equipment. There are less experienced hikers who are just looking for a good time hiking to attractions in the nearby towns. Then there are the people who want to disappear. Crowell says that those are the “ones you have to watch out for.”

He says that in Dahlonega, “you don’t have to hike alone.” It is not a risk that women need to take. There are plenty of groups on the University of North Georgia campus and other individuals in Dahlonega that a person could hike with. 

Crowell takes his dog on every hike he goes on. He says that most of the time, the dog loves everyone on the trail, but “if the dog doesn’t trust you, I don’t either.”

If women decide to hike alone, Crowell suggests carrying bear spray. His other tips are to be aware of one’s surroundings and to stay in communication with the outside world. 

In regards to hiking safely alone, Crowell states that “they [women] can’t.”

“I was always taught never to go solo hiking, especially as a female. However, one day I tried it. I needed to experience nature and I needed to experience nature alone,” -Peyton Holley, a senior UNG student getting a bachelors of fine arts in drawing and painting. 

“I’ve found that my head is the clearest when I hike solo,” says Holley. When solo hiking, she says she does not have to worry about her pace or anyone else’s pace. “The only concern is myself and focusing in on my own body and thoughts.” 

(Example of what someone could take hiking as protection – wasp spray or bear spray, pocket knife, pepper spray. By Mackenzie Anderson)

Holley says that she conceal carries on her hikes, and always has pepper spray and her pocket knife. She says that all the protection is “for both humans and animals.” She also shares her location, departure dates, and the time she should be back with someone she trusts.

“There were times hiking solo where I have been fearful – perhaps I thought I lost the main trail, the weather appeared stormy.” Holley says that these situations forced her to become “purposely calm and think clearer.” 

“Solo hiking pushes you far beyond the physical capacity – it pushes you to face fears and face them alone,” she says. 

Holley says that every activity holds some inherent risk. “Driving a car is inherently dangerous, but many of us sit behind the wheel daily without a second thought. Solo hiking, especially as a female, is risky.” The best thing to do, however, is to be prepared as best you can and educate yourself on the risks involved. 

Holley encourages not to “let anxiety drive you away from something you love. If we let those fears control us, no one would ever truly live.”