This post is part of a series where Wild Wilderness Women is exploring the true definition of “babe” in preparation for our upcoming Babes Off the Beaten Path trip in Glacier National Park. Please consider supporting the babes forging paths for other outdoor women by making a donation on our fundraising page. If you’d like to share your words on “babe-dom” with us, please contact us!


Submitted By: Susan Sommer, True North

My ex-husband and various boyfriends before him called me “Babe.” It always felt a little weird. Even though they simply used it as a term of endearment, it made me feel weaker than I knew I was, like I had to conform to that stereotype of the fair maiden needing rescue.

A few years ago, I joined a meetup group called Alaskan Wild Women Hiking & Backpacking (the “Wild Women” part is how I stumbled across this group of Wild Wilderness Women!) and rekindled my love of hiking. The outings made me feel strong and knowledgeable in a way I never had before. I found myself wanting to lead hikes on favorite old trails in the area, so I became one of several official organizers for the Wild Women. I’ve since attended more than 100 events. For many in the group, our mantra has become “We can do it—we’re Wild Women!” We use it to get ourselves to the top of the mountain when we’re flagging, or to try new activities, or to psyche ourselves up for facing something totally unrelated to hiking and backpacking.

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We tease each other when one of us feels wimpy about getting out or going farther: “Your butt’s going to be bigger than mine.” That usually spurs us to go the distance, together. We’ve created solid new friendships with women of all ages. And though we’ve never called ourselves “Babes,” we’ve definitely become stronger, healthier, and more confident in our own abilities and our capacity for accepting things like inexperience or fear or discomfort. If “babe” equates to being “sexy,” then that’s what sexy means to me. And, like babes in the woods, we enter the unfamiliar again and again only to discover that we summit life’s peaks and crawl out of her valleys by simply putting one foot in front of the other.

See more about Susan Sommer at www.akwriter.com or visit her Alaska trails blog, True North, at http://truenorthalaska.weebly.com/.

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