The Mountain Within: Barriers Women Face To Exploring the Outdoors, and How to Conquer Them

Updated: Feb 6



Today we’re going to have a little talk about barriers.

Those grisly things that tell you “you’re not fit enough” or “you don’t have the money, the time, the ability” or I’m a mom, I can’t take time for myself right now!”

The list goes on for each of us.

Before you walk away thinking “well that’s just not me,” keep in mind that you have the power to lift your fellow lady explorers to overcome their barriers, even if they don’t apply to you. Knowing what barriers can look like for others is the first step in helping them… After all, you know Susan could use a day to forget her to-do list and turn off her buzzing phone, Megan is bogged down by work stress, and Amy’s wanted to try snowboarding for more than 3 years but just can’t find a way.

For most of us, barriers are everywhere. They’re the things that stop you, or make you second guess your decision to take the adventure you know would feed your soul. They stop your Wander heart in its tracks.

A study published in the Journal of Sport and Tourism found that the biggest challenge women face when it comes to getting outside… is themselves.

“Self doubt, fear, guilt and perceptions of being unadventurous” are the big ones. Another study found that money and time are some of women’s biggest constraints.

Let’s hang some of these barriers out to dry. We know that some might be more difficult than others, and some might be impossible to overcome at times, but shedding light to them so they won’t rear their ugly heads as often is an important step towards triumphing them. Maybe, if you have a better understanding of which barrier (or barriers) rendezvous with you and your friends, you can get a leg up on putting them to bed!

We’d like to see more of your beautiful faces out on those beautiful rocky faces, and we aren’t just one of those “Raw! Raw! Let’s get out there” kinda groups… No my friend. It’s our mission to empower you to get outside as much as possible, to experience the beauty and fresh air of the great outdoors, and to do it with a confidence-building skill set that allows you to conquer those barriers!

And empower you we will.

If you notice a barrier you face (or have conquered!) that we don’t talk about today, we’d love to hear your story! Email us at womenwhowanderbc@gmail.com

Self Doubt and Fear: They’re Holding you Hostage!

Conquer your adventures with confidence

This is where the “I’m not good enough” statements come in. You think you’re weak, or you don’t have the ability to develop the necessary skills, or you feel that your knowledge is lacking. Imagining yourself wiping out on your first ski trip and everyone turning to laugh could really make you scratch your head and think... “nah… maybe another day.”

It could also be that you’re scared of being lonely on your adventure. You don’t have the right companionship, or you would be a minority. The fear of learning a new skill alone can be downright daunting… and the idea of being the only woman makes your gut do a somersault.

Maybe your mom (bless her) is telling you “it’s a big risk, aren't you scared?” and mom knows best.

Finally, the fear of not being athletic enough can really be a downer. Just about all of us have been there…

Self doubt can be tough, but as an adult it’s easy to forget that the most impressive things you’ve done in life required taking a leap of faith. They’ve taken hard work. They might’ve taken a stumble or two to get you back on your feet and trying again. They weren’t easy. But accomplishing these things made you feel unstoppable. If it wasn’t raising your rambunctious kids or renovating your house, it could be learning how to rock climb or traversing a scree-ridden cliff.

Now, we’re definitely not saying you should ignore these fear feelings... we’re not saying you won’t fall down… and we’re definitely not saying that going alone on a camping trip is the right way to learn how to camp like those die-hards that head to the bush with a knife and canister to survive for a week. Naw - What we are saying is that one of the best ways to conquer your self doubt and fear is to face them head on.

Here are some of our suggestions:

  • Find local clinics that jive with your skill level! There are so many amazing resources out there for you to build your confidence and get you ready for the trails. We’ve held a few ourselves… and they’ve always been a knockout way to meet new adventure buddies!

  • Join our private ladies-only Facebook group! It’s FREE, full of wonderful women and chalk full of adventure sharing.

  • Network with explorers in your area. So many just like you are looking for others with the same interests, goals, fears, skill levels and the like.

  • Hire a local guide to take you out and show you the way! That, or explore new places with people who’ve been there. Treat them as your trusty travel guide. It’ll make them feel good, too!

  • Participate in safety clinics so that you can tackle the trails knowing you’re prepared for whatever comes your way (like our bear spray clinics!)

  • Research the area you’d like to go. It can really put your mind at ease knowing what you’re getting yourself into! (Download the Alltrails app for wicked trail guides.)

  • Check out some of these highly credible resources from our wonderful allies: AdventureSmart | WildSafeBC | LeaveNoTrace

  • Empower others. Acknowledging another woman’s skills as something you want to build from is a gift. Not great at skating? Get Katie, who’s a tremendous skater, to show you the way! Even if by the end you still look like a deer on stilts, you’ve lifted Katie up by showing her how talented she truly is. How great is that? (Repay the favour by teaching her something you rock at!)

We’d like to share with you an amazing stat provided by Outside Magazine. They surveyed 2100 women about their outdoor experiences, and we’re pretty pumped about these numbers:

Approximately 78% of women say that engaging in outdoor sports has given them more positive feelings about their bodies.

Better yet… Around 93% of women say that their outdoor adventures make them feel more confident!

Try not to let self doubt and fear control your decisions. You’ll feel a lot better for it.

Guilt: You CAN Carve "You" Time…(and you NEED to)

Guilt: You CAN Get Away… (and you Need to)

It can be really hard to admit that your devotion to the remarkable family you’ve made is a barrier, but if you’ve ever been a parent you know that your kids come first. As our founder likes to say, “I work for a 4 year old!”

Your little hooligans occupy a lot of your attention, and it can feel damn-near impossible to pull yourself away for the fresh air and fun you know you need. Even if you do manage to sneak away for a breather, you might feel guilty for not being there.

Do it anyway. Carve that space - even if it’s 20 minutes. You’ll be a better parent and support system to everyone around you if you take the time to tend to your own soul and needs. Reach out to your circle and find the time to make it work. The benefits for everyone in your life are undeniably profound! (This is a huge cornerstone for our founder!)

Another scenario: you pour countless hours into the career you put your sweat and tears into. You head home (exhausted) to throw on your Netflix shows and open up that bottle of merlot that’s singing your name (don’t get us wrong - there’s ALWAYS a time and place for wine). But sometimes routine and living in your comfort zone can be a killer. Maybe it’s keeping you from the camping trip your girlfriends are packing up for, or it’s an easy distraction from that mountain you keep talking (dreaming) about climbing. Again we say, carve that space, sister! You have today, two feet and a heartbeat. Make the most of it!

Our suggestions:

  • Use your network to find a babysitter, or create a babysitting system with another mom. If other Wanderers in your area have kids, they may be more willing than you think to trade caregiver duties for the times you’d like to get out onto the slopes. If you can’t find other Wanderers with similar needs, use local resources to find people you can trust.

  • Set aside a particular day of the week, month, or year to take a breather from your job (or family) and stick to it! Pick an accountability buddy and help each other strategize ways to prepare your partner and colleagues for the times you’ll be away.

  • Change up your adventure of choice to suit your time constraints.

  • Write out those “why’s” and rekindle those vision boards! Post them somewhere you’ll see them daily.

Lack of Resources: Money and Gear Don’t have to Hold you Back!

Lack of Resources: Money and Gear Don’t have to Hold you Back!

Gear can be expensive. In the same survey by Outside Magazine, the most common answer to “how much do you spend on gear?” was “too much.”

It can be discouraging walking into a shop and seeing that the winter coat you’ve had your eyes on is a crisp $400. Or the swanky skis you want are a cool $1200. The person at the counter is telling you that by purchasing anything less than the top line, you’d be doing yourself a disservice.

Maybe the clinic you want to try is just way out of your price range.

It could be your means of travel. Gas ain’t cheap these days!

Our tips:

  • Keep your eye on the social media pages and the websites of your favourite brands and adventure groups. You never know when the next sale is going to knock your socks off (or put a cushioned pair of hiking socks on for a mind-blowing deal.)

  • Check out your local thrift store. You’d be surprised at the great stuff you can find! A member of Women Who Wander recently bought a pair of brand new snow pants (tags on and everything) for $20 (regular $130.)

  • Follow us for discounts and giveaways from brands we’re pairing with! We also host low-cost activities and clinics. Keep updated with our events and giveaways, and follow us on Instagram and Facebook for announcements.

  • Do your research on gear shops that provide excellent service. Similarly, research the gear options beforehand so you can walk into that shop like a boss.

  • Plan to carpool (post COVID of course!). Reach out to your Wander friends and arrange low-cost transportation. It’s better for our beautiful planet, anyway (once we can all get together again.)

Intimidation and Safety Concerns: Don’t be a One-Woman Wolf Pack!

Intimidation and Safety Concerns: Don’t be a One-Woman Wolf Pack!

Outside magazine found:

53% of women say that they’ve been harassed while on their outdoor adventures (catcalled, followed, flashed, etc.) 66% of women say they’re afraid of their safety due to men while planning their trips. 34% say that they’re biggest concern is men or being harrassed (in second place was the fear of bears, at a mere 12%.)

Your fear could be that you can’t keep up with the men you’re travelling with, that they’re more likely to challenge you to something you’re uncomfortable with, or even that you’re gonna receive the dreaded “mansplain.”

Unfortunately, these can be some very real barriers for some women.

Tips:

  • Utilize your Wander buddies so that you can travel in pairs or groups.

  • Make sure someone at home knows where you are, and who you’re travelling with. Always leave a trip plan!

  • Be mindful of those around you, and use your common sense.

  • Pack bear spray! Use it if you need to.

  • Follow your gut. When something makes you feel uncomfortable, it’s probably for a good reason.

Influence and Inspiration: Looking up to (and Being) Badass Women


Looking up to (and being) badass women!

The media is a fickle thing when it comes to being a woman, isn’t it? For decades you’ve been bombarded with certain expectations of beauty and grace and blah blah blah. Even though there’ve been more badass athletic women in the media in recent decades, we still feel there’s not enough.

Sometimes seeing these powerful women can spur feelings of self doubt. You might think “I’m just not that athletic... I must be way outta my league.”

On the flip side, Women in Adventure received responses from 400 women who say that they’re most inspired by women that they actually know, and we think that’s pretty rad. These inspiring women were described as passionate and determined, as well as supportive and encouraging (among other amazing things.)

Other sources of influence may come from family, but while about 41% of women say they were introduced to the great outdoors by their dads, only 23% say they were introduced by their mamas. (Outside Magazine)

Finding (or Being) Inspiration

  • Find local athletes to look up to! One of ours here in Invermere is Courtney Hoffos, alpine ski racer extraordinaire.

  • Research other influential women. Check out the lists given by women who participated in the studies we’ve mentioned here and here.

  • Encourage your female friends and daughters to find their Wander spirit! Let’s get that 23% a little higher!

So, Are you Ready? Let’s do this.

Barriers are everywhere, but we can be empowered to overcome them and empower others to overcome them, too! Knowing what barriers you and your friends face can help you tell those brutes “not today, baby!” Remember, we’re here for you. The single moms, the shakers and boss babes, the stay-at-home mama, teachers and police officers and accountants. We know the struggles. But together, through a little empowerment, support, and education - we can do this!

Become a member of Women Who Wander and meet hundreds of women who are making their adventure dreams a reality. Check out some of our wicked perks (can’t be missed!), join our monthly adventure and community challenges and events (super rad), and check out our Facebook group to network with other beautiful adventurers, just like you.

In March, we have an exciting challenge (announcement coming soon) that will run in honour of International Women’s Day. #challengetochange #IWD2021 #womenwhowandercollective

Also, check out the Wakeful Travel Journal for a surefire way to feel organized, prepared and truly mindful of your adventures (and remember your favourite spots!) Use the code WAKEFULWANDER10 for 10% off!

Are you ready to conquer the Mountain Within?

** Our founder started at the trailhead and has been summiting her own mountains, literally and figuratively, ever since. Whether it be on the trail, as a single mom, as an avid hiker, or as an entrepreneur... She loves connecting with like-minded women. Reach out anytime to chat! womenwhowanderbc@gmail.com or message her on Instagram. **



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