Solo Traveling While Female

teledork

Pinyon Jay
Joined
Aug 26, 2017
Messages
590
Location
eastern sierra
I understand this is likely to be an uncomfortable topic but I am always trying to find some positive or some kind of lesson out of negative experiences and by asking what others think perhaps I can broaden my viewpoint. Perhaps I am just trying to find some hope.

I just spent two days camping out in the Mono Basin for the purpose of enjoying those beautiful and quiet desert nights and getting my kayak in the water early in the morning ahead of the wind and thunderstorms. The boating was excellent and for the most part the HUGE number of people camped out on those roads and boating on the lake were decent. Except the ones who camped within talking distance of me and built a campfire. They said it was okay because they had a campfire permit and had a fire ring . To quote Simon and Garfunkle - "a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest".

But I was admonished, not once but twice, to “go back to wherever the f*** you came from". One was from a Mammoth “local” - the other (two of them) were self declared Lee Vining “locals” (“my family has been here for five generations”) and one of those “dudes” came real close to getting pepper sprayed when he approached my truck yelling, “you are messing with the wrong dudes” - I rolled up the window instead. I think they are hard to break. My crime - as far as I can ascertain - was that I was unable to back up to a pull off fast enough when they demanded the right of way on a narrow road and when one of the women thanked me for pulling off I said, “You’re welcome”. Then the trucks stopped and two guys jumped out yelling at me to “get the f*** out of here and don't you EVER come back!” when they had me blocked with their vehicles. I pointed that fact out and then they wanted me to tell them where I live before they would let me go (yup - the guy said, “tell us where you live and we’ll let you go”). Yeah - right - you have me trapped and are threatening me and I am supposed to tell you where I live. And the “go back where you came from” - ha - I live an hour away. I have worked three different jobs in Lee Vining. It is possible one or both of the “local” punks had been students in my 3rd grade classroom.

In the first incident there were enough other people around that I did not feel I was in danger but I have to admit that the second incident scared me enough to seriously consider my safety traveling alone while female. The woman who had thanked me finally got them to leave me alone. I have no idea what thoughts were in the heads of the kids in the back seat - which actually frightens me even more than adults acting badly. What are they learning from watching their dad? Is this what we have to look forward to from here on out?

This is not the first time I have had something like this happen. Once, within a couple of miles of home on a major highway (road construction and I was driving the lowered speed limit until I could pull off and out of the way of the lunatic making obscene gestures at me for a mile and a half) this particular humanoid appearing individual passed me then slammed on the brakes, backed his car into the turn-out, ran up to my truck and spit in my face before I could get the window up. I suspect this would not have happened if I were not female. And that was not even the first time. Two men stopped, backed up and jumped out of the vehicle when I pulled out of their way (after being tailgated for a few miles)on the road down from Horseshoe Meadows above Lone Pine, CA. if you know that road - a drop of a few thousand feet, long stretches with little to no shoulder - there was no one around and my life genuinely passed before my eyes. They screamed that I was driving too slow but apparently they had plenty of time to stop and threaten me. I don’t get it -

If I don’t travel alone I don’t travel. When my mother was still alive I used to lie to her and say I was carrying a gun but I don’t because I don’t want to be a part of a world where I might have to really consider shooting a human being . I love to backpack and actually feel much safer in the wilderness than anywhere drivable. I can deal with a mamma bear worrying about her cubs but disturbed humanoids honestly make me want to quit this incarnation. But I don’t want to give up my camper - not yet - especially as the years continue to take their toll on my body. What are the “new” requirements for staying safe while traveling alone? Would a visible firearm (gun in a rack in the rear window?) give an aggressor second thoughts? What the hell has happened to the human race?

I can understand the provincialism, not condone but at least understand. I think it was already there but I’ll bet the virus and tourists generally behaving badly has made it more acceptable to harass visitors. I think driving a camper increases my attractiveness as a target for “local’s” provincialism even though I live in this county. I was told “you can’t camp here” when I had the camper popped up while I kayaked. My question, “define camping?” resulted in a harangue that I just walked away from. On the other hand the man in the van on the other side of that particular “local” HAD camped there and was, at that very moment, standing next to his van brushing his teeth - but yeah - he was not female.

I also have the life experience of being married to a man who would verbally abuse anyone. I learned very quickly that his targets would take it out on me whenever possible. I was easy. Low hanging fruit. Female. They did not dare stand up to him. They were infinitely smarter than I was.

I am trying real hard not to be paranoid and feel victimized but the first incident of this kind happened more than five years ago and is becoming a regular concern for me now. When did it become acceptable to stop and harass a woman when she is doing everything within her conceivable options to avoid pissing a man off ?(which an abusive marriage taught me is only rarely possible) Is this cultural? After being widowed once and then divorced I am already well acquainted with the cultural pressure to be paired up. If we don’t have a man with us we are supposed to be frightened until we become obsequious and/or stay home and watch TV? Is this the new normal?

Are there other solo women travelers out there? Any men who have experienced anything like this? Anyone have any words of hope?
 
I appreciate you writing about these disturbing events that happened to you. As a male I have rarely experienced that kind of aggression. It's good to be reminded about the discrimination and hate the other members of our community face every day.
 
So sad to hear this. It seems there are always those individuals who will prey on others.

As for words of hope? I liked yours: I don’t want to be a part of a world where I might have to really consider shooting a human being" I recently got burned financially when I trusted a contractor to do some work around our property. After fuming for a bit, I considered that getting burned is a consequence of my choice to trust others. I could continue to be angry, and I could change my default position and assume that others are not trustworthy. But is that worth it?

I do not want to live in fear nor do I want others in my world to assume I am untrustworthy nor do I wan to be an "easy mark". I can't recommend my choice as being suitable for you. I do witness your strength in bringing this topic up. I admire that a great deal.
 
Teledork,

I am also planing to travel and am hoping to be able to hook up with some fellow WTW members when possible. I do a lot of photography and astrophotography which can put me in vulnerable situations. I do plan on having Bear Spray/Wasp Spray on hand when I am alone. I haven't decided if other options are feasible but will consider them based on experiences.

I think a NRA sticker on back of the vehicle might deter some of the idiots.... Doesn't matter what you believe it's what they think you believe.... If they think you have a weapon they should be more hesitant to approach. It does sound as if you are finding the worst in your travels....

When I get on the road I'll be posting for companion travelers and always welcome anyone with a smile. I have met several folks from here and it has always been a terrific encounter ending in new friendships.

I hope you find a solution that allows you to continue what you love to do. :)
 
TD this really saddens me that you and others have to be party to such bad behavior.
I keep a bear spray close or the wasp spray is good.It has a long stream and is effective.

As for a firearm your thoughts are sound.Maybe the NRA sticker might help.Someone might
thing you are one of them and not bother you.

Stay safe as you can.Giving in to the "bullies"only makes them win.
Frank
 
I think I'd have invited the Sheriff over for a chat. I'm sorry you keep meeting these whackos. It was truly a crazy weekend.
 
craig333 said:
I think I'd have invited the Sheriff over for a chat. I'm sorry you keep meeting these whackos. It was truly a crazy weekend.
I was in survival mode and just wanted to get out of there so calling 911 at that time was not one of my top choices - but I have been considering filing a police report. I know it will likely mean little because I have absolutely no identifying information (survival mode) but then again if these "locals" are in the habit of dong this it will eventually catch up to them - I think.

And yeah - the last weekend of July is a real good time to stay home. I knew better but I was craving an outing.
 
Vic Harder said:
/ After fuming for a bit, I considered that getting burned is a consequence of my choice to trust others./
That is what it often comes down to for me as well. It kind of softens the regrets.
 
And thanks to Casa and Happyjax - funny, I had been thinking how my late husband would always donate to the Police Athletic League and put the sticker on his truck. He swore it got him a talking to instead of a speeding ticket on several occasions. So yeah - I've been thinking about an NRA sticker. If nothing else it would confuse people who know me.

I would not have pulled a firearm even if I had one in this circumstance and even using the pepper spray would have been a difficult choice to make. There were kids in at least one if not both trucks. I am not going to play out that kind of scene. If their dads felt the need to beat me down in front of their kids that is their karma - not mine. Somehow that makes me feel better. Those kids witnessed dad threatening someone most would label a "little old lady". I feel for those kids. I wonder about the moms. But in the end I cannot think of anything I could have done to change anything.
 
Edgewood said:
I appreciate you writing about these disturbing events that happened to you. As a male I have rarely experienced that kind of aggression. It's good to be reminded about the discrimination and hate the other members of our community face every day.
Thank you. I was worried about posting this.
 
teledork said:
Thank you. I was worried about posting this.
I’m glad you did post your experiences. It reminds us all to be vigilant, and hopefully to look out for one another when we are out and about. It also took a lot of courage to bring up a topic like misogyny.
 
Wandering Sagebrush said:
I’m glad you did post your experiences. It reminds us all to be vigilant, and hopefully to look out for one another when we are out and about. It also took a lot of courage to bring up a topic like misogyny.
I agree completely. Teledork, thank you for posting and telling your story. I was so angered by these folks' actions I had to take a walk. Male bullies picking on women they believe they can intimidate and overpower is just wrong. And their partners condoning it with inaction and in front of their kids..............

I applaud you for telling your story and trying to find a lesson in it, to find a positive.

We need to know what's happening to single women travelers so we can be aware, look out for each other, support and help. And work together for solutions so this behavior ends.

Please don't let these awful incidents keep you from getting out.

I read your post to Julie as she has a couple female friends that are getting out on their own. She's working her mind around it. In fact she's sharing your story with one friend on the phone now.

I'm curious what they'll come up with. You have generated good discussion, thank you.

Our best to you.
 
Sorry this happened to you. It sounds like you handled it as well as possible under the circumstances.

It might be good to hear from Hoyden on this issue as she travelled solo for some time.

Paul
 
Sorry this happened to you and I've always felt that the camping crowd were good people. The only issue we've had is someone being noisy into the night but then again, I'm not a single female. I would hope other campers would come to your aid. Now, I would think booddocking could be a bit scary as a single female BUT in reality, we should all be able to do what we like to do without having to be worried about other people. Good luck. I hope you keep on doing what you love.
 
PaulT said:
Sorry this happened to you. It sounds like you handled it as well as possible under the circumstances.

It might be good to hear from Hoyden on this issue as she travelled solo for some time.

Paul
I haven't seen anything from Hoyden in a long time but she certainly did quite a bit of solo traveling/camping.
 
TD,

The advantage to wasp spray (from my understanding) is it is very localized effects. Doesn't spread out like pepper spray will. In a bad situation that would be (IMHO) the best 1st response, understanding that a larger response (pepper spray) might be needed as a follow up. It is sad that we have to discuss these things when all we want is to love nature and be left alone..... Still if it's me or them, it's gonna be them.....
 
Too many people. Too many widely distributed media examples of public rage with no penalty for that behavior, in fact just the opposite, often a fan base develops. I have always lived by the notion that I should be unconditionally constructive. That would not have done any good in this situation. I did once need to demonstrate I was armed, way back in the day when I used to be armed, and it was remarkably effective in stopping the raging idiot in his tracks. But I often wonder how my life would have turned out if I would have had to shoot him. It certainly would have ruined his, and his family's and friends. No clear answer.
 
That is why the order of things is

1.) Try to ignore or reason with them depending on the situation
2.) Try to drive away if that option exists..
3.) Call for help if you can....
4.) Pull out the wasp/pepper spray and hope you don't have to deploy.
5.) Deploy and hope they leave or you can leave...
6.) Don't really want to go there but it may not be a choice....

If you get to 6 you are dealing with some very nasty idiots....
 
Tough situation, sorry to hear. Happyjax has a good list, very close to mine:
1. Don’t engage or respond. Leave as quickly as possible.
2. Try to identify with a license plate, etc.
3. Absolutely call law enforcement after leaving the area. Chances are that if they react with that much hostility they’re known, or should be known, by local LEOs.
4. Perfect situation for a dash cam or turning your phone on to record. Easy to say sitting here typing away, much tougher under pressure situation.
5. Brandishing/using personal protection (mace or firearm) takes it to a whole other level most of us are unprepared for. It would have to be an extreme situation for me.
6. This should have been listed as #1: situational awareness. Much of the time, but not always, there are indicators of what you might expect from somebody. Loud music, lots of beer, an attitude of entitlement while breaking the law (the campfire)...this reflects my days running restaurants/bars but if they came to party hard, they’re more apt to fight.
The SAH orders have just caused the crazies to ratchet up to a higher level. Increased pressure on rural areas by those of us from urban areas have increased the “localism” attitude. Understandable, but the behavior you experienced is inexcusable.
 
Happyjax said:
That is why the order of things is

1.) Try to ignore or reason with them depending on the situation
2.) Try to drive away if that option exists..
3.) Call for help if you can....
4.) Pull out the wasp/pepper spray and hope you don't have to deploy.
5.) Deploy and hope they leave or you can leave...
6.) Don't really want to go there but it may not be a choice....

If you get to 6 you are dealing with some very nasty idiots....
Exactly!

I've laughingly thought about a sword. They are not designed for deployment from inside the cab of a truck but the "this lady is a lunatic!" factor could be worth something. Then I began wondering if there are laws about "brandishing" a slingshot because there are gong to be legal ramifications any time you pull out a gun and I honestly have to admit, as I sit here right now, that I would rather go down than be dragged through the legal system because I made the choice to protect myself. If someone went after my dog though -

Wasp spray is on my shopping list. The kind of funny thing is that when I pulled out my pepper spray the guy said "who ya' gonna call" - guess he thought it was a phone - and he did back off when he figured it out. The can of wasp spray would not be mistaken for a phone and I can buy it in the grocery store. My recollection is that #1 - bear spray is expensive and #2 - it has to be replaced frequently. Bear spray - $40, wasp spray - $5 - 8.
 
Back
Top Bottom