“They don’t know where they’re going,” man guide says to 8-10 adoring clients as blood bubbles up into my throat.
We were on a route finding adventure in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and having a blast. We had very loose directions on a sneak route into Lower Death Hollow, a spot that typically requires a 3-day backpack trip to reach. After several hours of route-finding fun we found our way safely down to the Escalante River and making our way back out of the canyon we passed a canyoneering guide and his posse.
“It has nothing to do with you being women, it is a safety thing,” says Mr. Mansplain. Well it has nothing to do with that fact that you’re an ASSHOLE, but you’re an ASSHOLE!
There was no friendly, “How are you? What a gorgeous day in the desert? Where did y’all come from?” He instantly launched into a mumbling tirade of our lack of skills even though he had no idea who we were, where we’ve been, and what our skill levels were. I’m pretty sure AN could have crushed him in any running race with her barefoot and blindfolded, I guarantee CR has climbed a grade harder than he has ever dreamed of, and me, well I spend a lot of time wandering these desert canyons and I know how to read a map.
It is nearly six months since we made it out of Lower Death Hollow and it still bothers me. You CANNOT tell me that Mr. Mansplain would have reacted to three fit men making there way from the canyon bottom in this way and I am downright sick of of the underhanded comments and under the breath mutterings I have received on the trail.
In my post about REI’s Force of Nature Campaign, I relayed an incident I had with a ski boot rep. I wanted to demo a lightweight ski mountaineering boot and inquired about my size and he just laughed and said that maybe I can get into ski mountaineering when they start making gear for kids. I was so angry. I am not a kid, I just have small feet. And all I want is some sweet, lightweight ski boots, but I wouldn’t buy them from you now anyway!
It is no wonder that REI’s survey on women and the outdoors found that a high percentage of women feel like their interests in the outdoors aren’t taken as seriously as men’s.
We spent the rest of the hike out of the canyon rehashing our interaction with Mr. Mansplain coming up with lists of things we wish we would have said. I doubt anything we could have said would have mattered anyway. Mr. Guide Man obviously had some preconceived judgement about what a group of women finding their way through unmarked trail in the desert means so the only thing we could do is beat his ass to the canyon rim. By leaving him in the dust with our stellar route finding abilities, hopefully next time he will just keep his darned mouth shut when passed by a group of hardcore desert ladies.