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Most of this page is devoted to stories about or by adventurous women, and to organizations that encourage women's adventure. I thought it would be inspirational to also include some record accomplishments of women using their own two feet.

Women's On Foot Records

Jennifer Pharr Davis - fastest Appalachian Trail assisted record - for any gender. Started the 2,185-mile Appalachian Trail June 15, 2011 on Mt. Katahdin in Maine at age 28. Hiked the trail in 46 days, 11 hours, 20 minutes. Bangor Daily News.

Annabel Marsh
-  the oldest woman to run across the United States. A cross-country run from Boston to San Francisco in 1984 at the age of 61, with Caroline Merrill. This record still stands (2008). They ran 3,261 miles through 12 states in 113 running days.

Ruth Rothfarb - 1n 1987 at age 85, ran and completed the Boston Marathon in a time of 8 hours.

Mary Davison aka medicare pastor completed the Triple Crown in 2017 at age 76. Too late for the ALDHA 2018 list, look for her in 2019.

Hulda Crooks aka Grandma Whitney climbed Mt. Whitney 23 times between the ages of 65 and 91

Mildred - Peace Pilgrim - Norman - First woman to thru hike the Appalachian Trail.

Grandma Gatewood - first person to hike the Appalachian Trail 3 times, first solo AT thru-hiker, first hiked it at age 67, last section hiked it at age 75 in 1963 citation2

Pam Reed - 2003 at age 42 set women's record for most miles run in 24 hours - 138.94 (223,633 meters) citation Also, the only woman to win the Badwater Marathon citation

Marcia Powers - in 2005, age 50 something, first woman to complete a continuous backpack of the American Discovery Trail - 6800 miles and 15 states.

Yogi - Jackie McDonald - Has hiked the Pacific Crest Trail at least 3 times, also the AT and the CDT. Most miles by a woman on the Pacific Crest Trail citation citation2 citation3

Sunshine (Reed Gjonnes) completed the PCT at age 11. Also, Sunshine hiked the AT in 2012.Sunshine has now thru-hiked the CDT in 2013 at the age of 13 which made her the youngest person to hike the CDT and complete the triple crown. Here's a link to the USA Today article which verifies all 3 of her hikes.

Top Stories of women's adventure - Jill Fredston, Barbara Rowell, Arlene Blum, Amy Racina, Susan Alcorn, Eileen McDargh.

Swimming to Antarctica by Lynne Cox.  A friend recommended this and I recently read it. It clearly is in the category of remarkable human beings, let alone women's adventure. The hazards are extraordinary. Antarctica is merely the tip of the iceberg as far as her swimming adventures.

Rowing to Latitude by Jill Fredston is a fascinating story of a woman rowing and her husband paddling more than 20,000 miles in the far North. If you are bear phobic or ocean phobic, don't read it.

Flying South by Barbara Rowell is the story of woman struggling to find her own identity, and succeeding, while living with a husband who was a legend in his own right. On a trip to Patagonia and back, flying a small plane, she had a journey of self discovery, and also wrote a very good story - published posthumously. Much more than a women's adventure story.

Arlene Blum's all time classic Annapurna a Woman's Place - 20th Anniversary Edition - the story of the 1978 climb by the American Women's Himalayan Expedition updated now with a new forward in honor of the 20th anniversary -  triumph and death, commitment and struggle, passion and humor - the jacket's words.  Our words - wonderful but terrifying, stress filled, Russian roulette. Women's adventure right down to life and death issues.

Isabella Lucy Bird (Bishop) was an extraordinary Englishwoman, sickly as a child and adult, who was told to travel for her health at the age of 22, in the year 1824.  She traveled and wrote for the rest of her life. In 1873 her travels took her to the Rocky Mountains, where with no mountaineering experience, she climbed the over 14,000 foot Longs Peak only five years after it was first climbed. Any of her books are a fascinating glimpse into outdoor adventure in a different time, but I suggest starting with the one on Rocky Mountains, and then the one on Japan, and go from there.

Angels in the Wilderness by Amy Racina. This extraordinary tale is one of the very few wilderness survival epics. Most solo hikers who suffer severe injury off trail do not make it out. Their story is told, if at all, on tattered scraps of paper found on their body. Amy fell sixty feet onto granite. Both legs were broken. A hip and kneecap were fractured. She had open wounds. If you ever hike, read this story. If you have friends going through physical therapy, this book will give you some clue to what they are going through.

Spark Your Dream by Candelaria & Herman Zapp. Not just a woman's story, but an incredible adventure. Cande is from Argentina. They drove their 1928 Graham-Paige sedan from Argentina to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, having a child in the process. We met this couple and their car while they were selling their book outside of a local harvest festival in 2008. Still a young couple, they now have three children, are expecting their fourth, and are planning to drive their car across Asia.

Books by/about Adventurous Women:

If you came straight to this page, you might have missed reading about Susan Alcorn's We're in the Mountains, Not Over the Hill: Tales and Tips from Seasoned Women BackpackersClick here to go to the page for that book

Gifts from the Mountain, Simple Truths for Life's Complexities by Eileen McDargh. Watercolors and wisdom drawn from backpacking inspiration. Hard to classify, but I highly recommend it.

Joyce Gellhorn's Song of the Alpine: The Rocky Mountain Tundra through the Seasons is a gorgeous, fact filled book, but hard to classify.  Joyce is one of the women backpackers interviewed in Susan Alcorn's book. At the age of 15, Joyce and her sister decided to climb all of Colorado's 14,000 foot peaks, starting with Longs Peak.  They did several others, and Joyce grew to love the high tundra country. She went on to make a career of it, getting a Ph.D. in botany, with a specialty in plant ecology. Her book is deceptively beautiful, glossy paged, lots of color photos, but by the end of it you realize that you have also picked up a huge amount of factual information - the physics of thunderstorms, the winter habits of pikas, wet snow and dry snow avalanches, early mountain climbers - worth the price just for the pika photos.

Karen Berger is one of the select few who have hiked the Triple Crown - Pacific Crest Trail, Appalachian Trail and Continental Divide Trail.  Also a talented and prolific author, read her Hiking the Triple Crown to get an excellent overview of these three trails, and what is involved in doing any or all of them.

In Beauty May She Walk, Hiking the Appalachian Trail at 60 by Leslie Mass. Hard to put down. An excellent account of Leslie's 2001 hike of the AT, including being on the trail during 9/11. Will give anyone with age or gender reservations new hope.

Beverly Hugo hiked the complete AT in 1995 at the age of 48.  She has written Women & Thru-Hiking on the Appalachian Trail.  Based on the Amazon reviews, this is a very helpful book and one of the few directed towards women backpackers

 Bold Spirit by Linda Hunt is about the extraordinary journey of Helga Estby who in June of 1896, went out her door in Boise, Idaho and walked across the continent with her daughter, arriving in New York City seven months later.

A Mile in Her Boots edited by Jennifer Bové is a collection of fascinating essays by outdoor women, ranging from turtle research in a nudist colony to being a forest firefighter while trying to nurse a baby.

Peace Pilgrim - the first woman to walk the Appalachian Trail in one season (1952). In 1953 she started walking for peace, and continued until her death in 1981. She stopped counting miles after reaching 25,000. A free book of her life and writings is available online or can be ordered. You can also purchase it on Amazon.

Walking Home: A Woman's Pilgrimage on the Appalachian Trail by Kelly Winters a women's adventure story of walking the AT.

Footsteps of Gopal by Elaine Pike - the author is 54 when she embarks on this trip - a 100 mile loop in Sagarmatha National Park in Nepal. Everest trekkers traverse part of this route. Imagine the John Muir Trail, only increase the average elevation by 3000 feet and you will have an idea of the difficulty of the trip. All profit from the book is donated to the American Himalayan Foundation.

Ellen Dudley and Eric Seaborg wrote American Discoveries:Scouting the First coast-to-coast Recreational Trail. This got great reviews in Amazon as an adventure story.  It's on my list of things I have to read

Women in Wilderness by Anne LaBastille, wildlife ecologist, documents the stories of fifteen women with careers centering around the wilderness or outdoors. These women provide role models for those striving to enter this still male dominated field.

Bette Filley's Discovering the Wonders of the Wonderland Trail encircling Mount Rainier is the bible for those hiking the Wonderland Trail. Heavy on detail, where to get water, etc. The authoritative source

Not Outdoors, but  outstanding personal account

the middle place by Kelly Corrigan. I heard this woman reading from her book on the car radio and was utterly absorbed in the story of her personal battle with cancer, but wasn't able to get the title or author's name. A month or two later, Susan was telling me about a book she was reading, and it was the same one. I read it and thought it was an adventure that deserved to be here.

Links:  The Women's Outdoor Institute is small, non-profit organization in Washington State on the Olympic Peninsula that seeks to seeks to "inspire, educate and enrich [girls' and women's lives] through outdoor-based experiences and community partnerships." They offer a intriguing range of activities and programs including hiking, camping, fly-fishing, and wilderness first aid. 

Wild Women Workshops: No personal experience with this group, but website has courses and trips that look great. This site's contact list is just outside of Yosemite in El Portal.  They have numerous west coast and Northern California activities.

Mariah Wilderness Expeditions also has women's adventures throughout the West, as well as Baja, and worldwide trips.  Rafting, kayaking, resort trips.  Their trips seem mostly water oriented. They are located right on the edge of San Francisco Bay.

Call of the Wild, Carole Latimer's widely respected company, has a large variety of trips - Alaska, Mexico and the Southwest to name some. She's been running women's adventure trips since 1978.  Check out her site. Headquartered in the San Francisco Bay area.  You can find trips ranging from local day hikes, introductory backpacking, mule assisted trips, etc. - I believe that I have found a wonderful resource for women wanting to go exploring with a group. It's a travel company for "active women over 30." Called Adventure Women, run by Susan Eckert, it's been around since 1982 offering trips, here and abroad, for hiking, skiing, rafting, horsepacking, etc. I do not have personal experience with them, but I'd sure check them out if I wanted to go bear viewing in Alaska or something equally exciting. or 800-804-8686.

NOLS - National Outdoor Leadership School - this name keeps coming up when reading accounts of adventure oriented women - not women only, but the women who go make it sound like a life changing experience.  The school teaches leadership skills through extended outdoor expeditions - two to twelve weeks. has backpacking trips for women, and sometimes men and women in what they call the magical canyon and slickrock country of Southern Utah. They have some great photos on their site, and the group pictures look like they are all having fun. Sierra Wilderness Seminars - has trips ranging from a climb of Mt. Shasta, the Inca Trail, and backpacking in the Sierras. At one time they offered women only trips but apparently ran into conflicts with federal gender discrimination laws. An REI partner. - Check out their programs for women and girls. Their programs are designed to meet the needs and learning styles of women and girls while providing instruction in wilderness living, outdoor skills and backcountry safety. Quoting their site: "an unforgettable experience that will increase your wilderness skills, refresh your spirit, and bring you the joy of a wilderness adventure in the company of women."  This forum is for women who want to find exercise partners, talk about sports, help other women become motivated about and involved in sports, and find supportive people.

California's Department of Fish and Game has a program called Becoming an Outdoor Woman - BOW.  Backpacking trips, fly fishing, survival classes, bird watching and more - maybe - I checked their site, and currently just see leadership and shooting classes Not just for women, but Terry was a backcountry ranger in Sequoia Kings Canyon for 16 years, and his trips and retreats in the southern Utah and Arizona area look wonderful. Among the unique adventures offered is multi-day backpacking trips made in silence. A great online travel magazine just for women. Check it out. - Worldwide travel adventure trips for women. In business since 1999, this organization offers about 30 trips a year, ranging from leisurely to demanding, from Baja kayaking to Kilimanjaro climbing. We have no personal experience with them but looks good. - This site has a remarkable assembly of links and information promoting women's travel and women's travel businesses. We don't have personal experience with them, but look at the site and judge for yourself.

Emma Gatewood first hiked the entire 2160 mile Appalachian Trail at the age of 67.  She last hiked it at the age of 76.

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