Questions I Am Asked Most Often Being A Female Hiker

Being a female hiker is not common in the WI, at least this is what I have found in my journey. Maybe this is the reason I loved visiting Utah an Arizona so much. Clearly, there were just as many, if not more, female hikers than males. With that being said, I do know of a few women who like to hit the trail and often will be asked questions by them in regards to my likes and dislikes. Which I thought would be informative and fun to share with those of you that are wondering some specifics in regards to this activity.

So here are some of the most asked questions and my answers to them all.

Water Bladder or water bottle? For me it’s a bottle every time. I have tried a bladder and both my husband and son love theirs…..I just can’t get past the rubber bag taste. I know it would be much more convenient but for the short trails I mostly hike(10 mile or less) I don’t mind having to carry a bottle(s). I love my Nalgenes most but the collapsible Platypus brand are very nice also.

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Pit toilet or cathole? Clearly there are moments where there is no option….but if at all possible I will wait till we get to a trailhead and use a pit toilet. I have learned either way it is a “crapshoot” since some pit toilets are down right horrendous. The worst pit toilet I have ever seen was at Scouts Landing on the way up to Angels Landing in Zion National Park…..we all decided to do our business behind the building because this pit toilet was not even “hold your breath” tolerable!!!! I will never forget it!!!

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Distance or elevation? This really depends on a few things. For me here at home, there are really no elevation hikes, so scenery and distance is usually the goal. When we travel to hike while on vacation….I am an all or nothing elevation hiker. The higher the better for me….I love the feeling of being as close to heaven as possible without being deceased. If I am hiking for stress relief, any place and any distance will do as long as it’s a dirt trail with very few people.

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Boots or trail shoes: This is completely personal but I would never hike any trail without my boots simply because I have very weak ankles and need the extra support.

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Trail map or GPS: Both! Before I hike any new trail, I do tons of research. I always have a trail map along and we almost always bring our GPS with us with our vehicle marked before starting the trail . You just never know and I am a better safe than sorry type of person.

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Alone or with a group? I rarely get the opportunity to hike alone….but when I have I find it very peaceful. I can go at my own pace for as long as I wish. However, there is something to be said about hiking with my husband and son and also with a group since I have done both. They all have there pluses and minuses so I like all of them for different reasons.

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What do I use for personal protection: I always hike with bear spray…and not always for the bears I may come across. My thoughts are, if it works even a little bit on a bear, it will work enough on a person so that I can at least have a chance. Plus, I also use my husband for protection…..I believe this man would give a limb to save my life.

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Forest or desert hikes: Both since here at home I have only forest. When we travel and it’s my choice where we are headed….it’s always the desert. I love it hot!

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Squat or female urine device: Female urine device every time. I am not a fan of peeing in my boots…which sometimes happens when you squat. It’s much more discreet when hiking with men, which is almost always who I hike with.Plus, imagine this….temps are 20 degrees, you have a ton of layers on, and snow is up to your knees when you step off the trail to go squat. Now you tell me if you want to drop your drawers and squat to pee. This is what I hike in 4-6 months out of every year which is why I love my female urine device.

What are my biggest dislikes about hiking? I have two big dislikes. One being garbage left by humans on the trail. Some of us are just plain old pigs and need to learn to clean up after ourselves. My other dislike is bushwhacking…..you know, going off the trail to a so called trail that is really not a trail. Ugggg, this is a big dislike for me. We actually came up with a new family rule when we recently traveled to Sedona and hiked in the desert. If the trail is not as wide as my hips I am not hiking it!!!! My husband and son seemed to think this was funny……but we did not hike anymore trails on this trip at least this wide.

What’s the one thing I would not hike without? My boots

Am I scared? I am asked this very often and every time I am not sure what to answer. Scared of what is always my thought. In my opinion, there are bad people everywhere, there are guns everywhere, there are animals everywhere, and there are places in my every day life that I could be in danger. If it’s my time , then so be it. I can only hope that when it is my time it is somewhere beautiful, I am wearing by boots, there is a smile on my face, and dirt under my feet. So no, I guess I am not scared.

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If I could choose one place to hike where would this be? Such a difficult question. I have hiked in some places that have taken my breath away, made me feel emotions I have never felt in my life, and have given me such a feeling of accomplishment that it is hard to explain. So, in all honesty, I don’t know where I would choose but I know it would be the southwest region without a doubt.

These are the most commonly asked questions of me in regards to what I hike, why I hike and what I do differently as a female on the trail. Hiking does not have to be technical, it can simply be a walk in the woods. Women often think because of there shape, size, time of the month, physical ability or the fact that there is no one to do this with, that it is not feasible. I am here to tell you it is and if you have ever considered trying this activity to do it. I think you would be surprised at how much you will enjoy it.

****Keep in mind, these are all my personal opinions and are not meant to guide anyone one way or the other. I consider myself a casual hiker and my no means a long distance or an ultralight hiker.

Chimney Rock Loop Trail-Sedona, Arizona

Chimney Rock Loop was our last and final trail we hiked while in Sedona for the first time. It was also an unplanned add on because…..well….we just weren’t ready to return home. All three of us fell for desert hiking much more than we thought we would…..especially my husband.

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This hike was a 2 mile loop that involved some elevation but nothing drastic by any means. From the parking lot located on Thunder Mountain Road in Sedona, it loops around very close to residents back yards in the first mile or so. (***NOTE the gate to this parking lot apparently does not open until 8:00a.m. so plan accordingly.) This I did not care for, as it felt a bit intruding but then again, I am guessing the trail was probably there before the homes were constructed, so it all works out I suppose. Anyhow, I sort of felt like I was still in the city so to speak. However, all of a sudden you head inward and round the mountain and climb a bit upwards and you are on the lookout and away from the homes.

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You then continue around the mountain base while headed back down. This side is much more secluded and peaceful.

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All our resources stated this hike was rated moderate….I would agree to some extent but most of it was fairly easy.

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In my opinion, this is a hike if you have a short amount of time and need to stay close to the city itself. All that being said, we saw many area residents using it for trail running which I bet is ideal for a quick run before or after work.

*** To see more hikes we did in the Sedona area, click here and scroll down to the Arizona section and take your pick of which adventure you wish to read.

Mescal Trail Hike-Sedona, Arizona

The Mescal Trail was the trail we decided to add on to one of our days. My husband fell in love with hiking through the desert terrain and wasn’t ready to be done one day so we ventured down this trail for a little over a mile and then backtracked the same mile for our return. From what I have researched, this trail does make a loop and would be about 5 miles total if this loop was completed. However, we knew we only had about an hour before darkness set in and there was no way I was hiking in the desert in the dark. Clearly, there are animals that can bit through this wicked cactus that I do not wish to meet in daylight much less darkness!!!!

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This trail seemed to be utilized by a lot of mountain bikers. Yet, we did cross paths with hikers also and when we did cross paths with mountain bikers they were respectful and gave us on foot the right of way. (Odd to see, because the bikers we see on WI trails do not do this)

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For the majority of the trail that we did hike, it was flat to little incline and offered quite an open feel to the desert. Unlike the Fay Canyon Trail, which is more enclosed and has tree cover, this was a mostly a sunny trail and I bet it could get pretty hot mid day.

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I wish we had something like this near us to walk after working all day. It was a nice peaceful walk and great scenery from every direction.

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The bit we did of this hike I would rate as easy.

*** To see more hikes we did in the Sedona area, click here and scroll down to the Arizona section and take your pick of which adventure you wish to read.

Doe Mountain Trail -Sedona, Arizona

Doe Mountain trail in Sedona, Arizona was by far one of my favorite hikes in this area. With it coming out to a 2.6 mile loop which includes climbing up the mountain face from the parking area and circling around the entire top of the mountain before returning down the same trail we came up. This trail was absolutely stunning…..

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The mountain top itself is flat and easy to walk either through the middle or around the edge to get every angle possible of Sedona’s red rock area. The climb up itself is moderate I would say, and does have some areas of scrambling but nothing too serious.

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Just before reaching the top of the mountain you will come to a crevice that needs to be scrambled up. It’s short and fairly easy to do with little to no difficulty.

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For me the climb was fun, it’s when I reached the top that my heart was captured and I did not want to ever leave. Every direction I turned had views that were simply breathtaking.

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The top of the mountain also offers some pretty spectacular views also.

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A few things to note while doing this hike:

#1 While walking on top be careful of getting to close to the edge.  There are many different crevices that form jagged edges all along the top of this beauty….stay clear if your unsure.

#2 When you reach the top, make note of something near you, take a picture of the area, or mark a GPS with your location if you are carrying one. It is difficult to find your way back to the trail leading up with the top outer edge being so large. I took a picture of this sign located at the top and my husband marked the GPS which we ended up using to find our way back to the trailhead to go down again.

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If I had to choose one hike to do over again between the six hikes we did here…..there would be no doubt that this would be the one I would choose. It was absolutely a breathtaking experience.

*** To see more hikes we did in the Sedona area, click here and scroll down to the Arizona section and take your pick of which adventure you wish to read.

 

 

Fay Canyon Trail- Sedona, Arizona

Fay Canyon trail in Sedona, Arizona was a meandering desert hike of 2.5-3 miles long round trip including the optional side trail to Fay Canyon Arch.

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This was an eye opening hike for all three of us since we had no idea what hiking in the desert would really be like compared to the wooded areas we normally hike here in the midwest.  We were amazed at the amount of green…..trees and bushes were abundant which we did not expect.

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The beauty of the desert was eye opening and something none of us expected to see.

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This was a mainly flat hike until you reach the end of the trail which is clearly marked.

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After this you enter a boulder garden of sorts that you can continue to climb up to the rock structure in this canyon.

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Please pay attention to warning signs from here. You do not want to be paying the price for stupidity here.

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On the way back from this rock structure we took the short side trail that led us to the Fay Canyon Arch. This trail is marked by a very small carin and is easy to miss. It’s a much smaller trail that leads you through waste/neck high bushes until you reach a large boulder.

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Make your way up on top of this boulder and enjoy the view from all directions. Just be careful, there are bushes and cactus plants everywhere.

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This was a wonderful warmup hike. Our son enjoyed taking pictures along the way, we maybe saw three couples in the morning hours that we hiked, and it was a great start to another big day of hiking for us in this area.

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I would rate this hike as easy. If you decided to boulder climb at the end then easy/moderate.

*** To see more hikes we did in the Sedona area, click here and scroll down to the Arizona section and take your pick of which adventure you wish to read.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Devil’s Bridge Trail- Sedona, Arizona

This trail was my husbands pick while on vacation in Sedona, Arizona and well worth the 4.0 miles it took to reach this stone bridge.

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On this hike, we decided to begin at the Mescal trailhead(Route #2) since we did not want to venture down the road to the actual Devil’s Bridge trailhead.

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We were warned that a high clearance vehicle would be needed to make it to this trail head and we did not want to risk anything breaking on our rented SUV so we choose to hike a bit further and start where we started.

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This hike took us through some gorgeous desert terrain .

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You will eventually reach the actual Devil’s Bridge parking area and cross through this to head down the trail. This is the trailhead you can park at if you have the proper type of vehicle. Both there and back there were never more than two vehicles at this particular parking area. And by looking at the road, you can clearly see why.

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I would estimate about the last mile or so the trail gets a bit rocky and then the last 1/4 mile you will find yourself once again rock scrambling some good sized rocks to reach the bridge itself.

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This was a busy trail. We did this mid afternoon and it had a good amount of people at the bridge when we arrived. However, everyone seemed respectful of each other and formed a nice line to walk out to the center of the bridge so everyone could capture a picture without others in the shot. Here is my husband in line for his picture.

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There is plenty of room to rest at the bridge area. And again, you are desert hiking, so bring plenty of water. After taking a moment to have a snack and rest, we had our son capture our picture together and then headed back the same way we came.

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This is also the trail we located the one and only geocache while on this vacation. It’s always a goal to search and find one in every state we visit. This area however, has some pretty fierce cactus plants that offer a bit of a challenge finding geocaches. So some extra caution is needed.

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I am not sure how long this hike took us in total. My guess would be about 3-3.5 hours with 45 minutes or so spent at the bridge itself. It was a very nice hike. Mostly flat terrain until the end to reach the top of the bridge. Many resources rated this hike as moderate and I would agree.

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*** To see more hikes we did in the Sedona area, click here and scroll down to the Arizona section and take your pick of which adventure you wish to read.

 

Cathedral Rock Trail- Sedona, Arizona

This was the first hike on our agenda during our first visit to the Sedona, Arizona area. I had been in contact with someone from this area a few times by email and she simply stated, “it’s a right of passage” to the area and you must give this trail a try. Say no more, I told my husband and son this would be our first hike of the visit and they were all in.

We researched this trail in detail before leaving and found that it was short, 1.5 miles round trip to be exact. It was also rated as HARD in many resources that we read. And after watching two videos taken while climbing this rock from fellow hikers, I knew it would be a challenge but I had my heart set on making it to the top of this rock.

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We arrived in the early morning just as the sun was rising over the mountains. We were told parking was an issue at this particular trailhead and when we returned to the vehicle, the lot was full.

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Note: you will need a red rock pass to park at this trailhead.

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As we prepared to conquer this hike, my boys both stood in awe at this magnificent sight.

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So with camera in hand, bladders emptied, and our packs loaded and ready we headed up this rock.

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We knew exactly where the technical part of this hike would be when we reached it. There is a crevice that needs to be scrambled up and eventually down during this short hike that had my stomach in knots.

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When we reached this crevice, we stopped, packed up our cameras to have both hands free, and I secretly said a prayer. It’s one thing to do these types of hikes on my own, it’s a whole other thing to know my husband and son are right behind me and can fall at any moment. However, it’s the life we live and we love it so we continued after a quick family picture.

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Eventually we reached the top and it was worth every grey hair I gained making it through this crevice. It was amazing. I was so relieved, we made it, worked together as a family, and succeeded.

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We spent about a half hour on the top, taking pictures, resting and just enjoying the view. I can see why I was told it was a right of passage to accomplish this hike. The feeling we felt when reaching the top was indescribable.

However, the thought of going back down is what really had me stressed. Although, I am happy to say, it was much easier than I had imagined to make our way back down the same way we came up. The only difference was we were on our rears instead of our knees. Here is a bit of what down looked like.

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It took us a total of about 2.5 hrs. to complete this hike with about a half hour of this on the top. People we ran into were respectful of sharing the crevice and not rushing anyone on the way up or down. This may seem like a short hike in distance but you will still need plenty of water and when the sun rises above the mountain the temperature rises quickly.

In my opinion hard was an accurate rating but completely worth it!

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