My wife and seven other women recently went on a five day hut to hut bike packing tour through the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. I had heard someone, not anyone remotely involved, predict that it would be an awful mess of drama. While there was just enough drama to be entertaining, eight capable adult friends were more than able to take care of business. In fact, they might have been a little too capable as the planning was so meticulous.
Included in their packs was a supply of emergency items and spare parts for their bicycles. I started to wonder if they could have opened their packs and built a whole ninth bicycle. One of the items that was debated over but was, uncharacteristically, left behind, was bear spray. There is such a thing as being over prepared you know. On getting into the start town of Telluride, the first thing they were met by is a bear walking across the road. “We didn’t bring bear spray!” everyone exclaims at once. Now, I always wondered, do you apply the bear spray to yourself, or to the bear? The important thing might be to taste worse than the next person.
Just before the outset of her trip, Mary explained to me, “Now, I’m not going to have any cell service in the backcountry, so don’t be upset, I just won’t be able to talk to you for five days. Don’t worry honey, I’ll manage to get through it, somehow.” In the evenings, however, a couple of the girls would disappear from the cabin for a time. Apparently, they were skilled in the art of bar whispering. I don’t know how they did it, but they sent out semi-regular facebook posts complete with photos of that days activities. Here I am, sitting at home, looking at these posts, and saying “hey, she told me there was no reception!”. “Well, you didn’t marry a bar whisperer, honey” was her reply upon getting home.
On the first day of riding in the wilderness, the group of women came across a friendly guy who was also mountain biking on the trail. They struck up a conversation, as seeing other people is somewhat rare. Upon hearing the girls explain that they were doing an all women’s five day hut to hut ride, he thought for a moment then said, “I didn’t know they allowed that”. No one thought that he was trying to be obnoxious, he just had certain preconceptions.
As far as the evening fun, apparently, ‘what happens in the San Juan Mountains, stays in the San Juan Mountains’. I was not told this, but I get the feeling that I might have gotten the edited version of eight women on a five day mountain biking expedition. All went reasonably well, they found their way, took care of all problems, created some great memories, remained good friends and, apparently, ‘it was allowed’!
Girls. This is a story about girls. Believe it or not, I started my life with the ever so subtle learning and expectations that men are a little bit superior. As a child, I was absorbing that, while yes, we can’t say that, we have to do the right thing, treat them as ‘equal’, but ultimately, I am man, I should make the final decision, which is, in all honesty, how much of the world works. I had to learn that a number of things that I simply absorbed in my childhood should be reexamined with a little empathy and skepticism.