“When my hike was over, I missed how beautiful I felt on the trail. For five months, my body had been covered in dirt, bug bites, scrapes, and bruises. But during that time, I didn’t carry a mirror, and I didn’t have billboards or commercials telling me how I should look. Growing up, I always thought that nature was beautiful, but I had never seen myself as a part of nature — as a part of all that beauty — until I hiked the trail.”
-Jennifer Pharr Davis
Beauty is such a misused term often reflected as how we look on the outside without taking into account how we feel on the inside or how we treat others. I asked female hikers to share a moment when they feel beautiful on the trail. Some were deep, while others were a direct response to my article: Did Backpacker Magazine Get Women All Wrong? Here are some of the responses:
“What makes me feel beautiful outdoors? The huge smile being in nature brings to my face. Knowing my body is getting me to the summit and back by putting one foot in front of the other (sometimes one hand in front of the other!). The bright and warm feeling in my soul when I hike past my fears and push the limits of what I thought I was capable of make me feel as if I am radiating beauty. My makeup is dirt, smushed bugs, scrapes and spiderwebs in my hair. They are all signs of battling the trail and badges of honor, proof of my hard work and the payoff I get from breathing fresh air, pushing my body and immersing myself in nature.” -Kim O’Brien
“I feel most beautiful knowing that I’m cultivating a love of nature for my daughter. That’s beauty!” -Leigh Canfield
“I work in a high-paced, high-stress job in a city that is never silent nor still. I hike to remind myself that there is more to this world than the sticky web of consumerism and rush hour traffic. There are infinite colors and patterns unique to the mountains and trails that no designer or artist has been able to truly capture for daily existence. Hiking reminds me of what is natural, joyful and beautiful. It reminds me that the only rules I need to live by are my own. Hiking makes me expansive in a way that takes my breath away. That’s what I really want from this world: to be left breathless. I know you only asked for the one picture but here are a few others from that same trip. Shortly after these were taken I fell in the river and fried my camera and smart phone. All I can say is: it was totally worth it.” -AJ Pate
“Endorphins and accomplishment are all I need to feel beautiful.” -Willow
“Going on an AT trek with two other women, stealth camping along the way. Amazing time! No beauty routine!” -Jen
“I venture into the woods because it is there that I feel most myself, the place I feel safest, and the place where I found what I am truly worth… being a woman in the outdoors I feel my strength, power, and capability. No amount of sultry makeup, no skin-tight dress, or new hairstyle will ever make me feel more feminine and beautiful than being my real self in nature.” -Alyssa Overton
“Our beauty regime on this trip. Nothing like removing sap from a friend’s hair.” -Jan McEwen
“The epic mosstaches and beards we grey while hiking the Washington section of the PCT. Weeks without a razor-it was rough!” -Mountaincraft
Thank you to all the amazing women who participated in sharing their beauty! If you’d like to participate in the next reader post, tag #trailtosummit on instagram, facebook, or twitter telling me why you hike!
Last modified: September 3, 2017
Great find~~your site. I have the good fortune of living in the Mt. Washington Valley where I can see peaks from my door.
I enjoyed finding “whilst” in your writing.
Will look forward to more of your work.
Thank you so much for the kind comment! You’re lucky to live right in the valley. I’m a little over an hour from Franconia Notch which is nice 🙂
First, I absolutely love your blog. It’s beautiful, respectful, and so refreshing. So cool of you to do all this work and share it all!! *I asked Hello Hello Books in Rockland, Maine if they would have you for a chat and if you have any interest I’ll ask the Portland, Maine library. Would be inspiring to hear you talk and love to get some of my hesitant hiking friends out to hear you!
I live in Maine and got into climbing/hiking a few years ago. After hiking Mt. Washington a friend told me about your blog. He – yes a man – suggested I check it out that knowing me and how I just like to be outdoors and go places and if someone can’t join me solo is OK – and your posts have really encouraged me to go out and there and do so much more. I knew it was ok, but now I feel EXCITED. Bonus the hygiene advice that will come in super handy for the multi day mountaineering trip I am doing in Wyoming this summer (w/ a guide & group). Going to take a first aid class again sometime between climbing those mountains in NH – very good advice, thank you.
My “trail beauty regimen” – sunscreen and that smile that happens that inner feeling of complete joy and satisfaction.