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Reader Poll: Most Admired Female Backpacker?

Liz Thomas - Speed Hiker

Liz Thomas – Speed Hiker

What’s the name of the FEMALE hiker or backpacker that you most admire and a brief explanation of the reason why. The person you name can be a rock star hiker or someone you hike with locally that you think is the bee’s knees.

Example Responses

I really admire Heather “Anish” Anderson, who set the new un-supported speed record for the PCT last year, hiking over 2000 miles in 60 days. I admire her physical and mental strength to keep up that kind of pace, day in and day out.

I really admire Christine Benton, a hiking and backpacking leader with the New York- North Jersey Appalachian Mountain Club. A cancer survivor, she’s been leading trips in the Catskills and Adirondacks for as long as I can remember and has mentored dozens of hiking and backpacking trip leaders, including myself.

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149 Responses to Reader Poll: Most Admired Female Backpacker?

  1. Chris March 22, 2014 at 7:07 am #

    My wife, Sarah “BAM” Sussman is one heck of a hiker. She puts up with me, for one. Her first overnight hike was a end to end of the Long Trail with me in 2006. She walked through rain and pain and did it with heavy gear and a smile on her face. Just ask her about the ascent of Glastenbury Mtn or getting blown around on Jay Peak and you will know that she is one tough hiker. She was also the inspirer of our 2012 PCT hike and made the journey amazing and possible!

  2. PaulaJeanne March 22, 2014 at 8:32 am #

    Two of the hiking women I admire are: Nancy Sporborg & Pat Piper of It’s Not About the Hike. I look up to them because of their encouraging messages and the fact that they started their hiking journey after 50 (like I did). Receiving their facebook messages daily helped me learn to “hike my own hike” and to really enjoy the entire hike – not just the summit!

  3. Black Foot March 22, 2014 at 8:56 am #

    I would say Kit McCann (Clever Girl) – followed her thru hike last year on trail journals and thought her writing was smart and funny. Check out her blog on 200 Terrific Things about Long Distance Hiking.

  4. ronda March 22, 2014 at 10:35 am #

    I love following Erin “Wired” Saver as she completes the long trails. This spring she sets off on the AT to join the Triple Crown gang. Her determination, smarts, wit, and a genuine love of the trail and people, shines through her addicting blog posts. Off the trail she continues to give by teaching and offering hiking clinics. Just an everyday gal inspiring others.

  5. karen March 22, 2014 at 10:44 am #

    This may be a weird answer but the first thing that came to mind is that I really admire the version of myself when I’m backpacking – I’m more resourceful, strong, determined, happy, peaceful.
    Or I’d say my 11th grade English teacher, who invited a couple of us bookish girls for our first trip in Algonquin Provincial Park, which she co-led). I admire her leadership and for believing in bringing my scrawny self deep into the woods for the first time.

  6. Patrick March 22, 2014 at 10:54 am #

    Jennifer Davis for her AT drive and determination. Great athlete, hiker, speaker, lover of nature and family as many have already mentioned.

  7. Janet Ahl March 22, 2014 at 11:01 am #

    Ioana Hociota Is a Grand Canyon hiker that I admire! She fell while hiking the Grand Canyon and lost her life. She hiked a great deal of the canyon

  8. James Hong March 22, 2014 at 12:52 pm #

    Jennifer Pharr Davis, on her FKT record..

  9. wayne March 22, 2014 at 1:55 pm #

    walking with wired is a favorite but my vote goes to Sheri Propster who was a Brand Ambassador along with her husband Randy for the Get Out More mobile Tours.

  10. Rick M March 22, 2014 at 2:26 pm #

    My step daughter Emily Smith. She moved to the Tahoe area several years ago with the plan of working one season at a ski resort. As I said that was several years ago. She realized that living where she could hike was a lot better than saving up vacation to hike. Her pictures and trip reports are a great inspiration to me. When I can cut the chains of this Midwestern urban center I am gone to where I can keep a pack in my car and walk off.

  11. John_M March 22, 2014 at 2:56 pm #

    I really admire Sage Clegg for her courage and tenacity as a thru-hiker. To date she has completed the Triple Crown (in 18 months), the Grand Enchantment trail in New Mexico, the Japhy Ryder Route ( a 1200 mile route across California, she created) and is the first person to bikepack the entire 800 mile length of the Oregon Desert trail.

  12. Randi Cook March 22, 2014 at 3:25 pm #

    My daughter Tara. She loves to hike!

  13. Joe W March 22, 2014 at 4:20 pm #

    My wife Erin. She has always impressed me with her energy and drive in the outdoors.

  14. Ping Floyd March 22, 2014 at 5:32 pm #

    I would have to say my wife, Donna. While she was 7 months pregnant with my son, we took my 2 year old daughter on a short backpacking trip. It was a great trip with lots of wonderful memories. And it was her idea, if anyone is thinking “why would he do that to her?”

  15. Howell March 22, 2014 at 5:44 pm #

    Patrica Ellis Herr (& her daughters)- for showing just how capable of serious hikes kids can be.

  16. Scott March 22, 2014 at 8:38 pm #

    My wife JOANNA is a true rockstar of a woman! I am active and would hike and camp everyday if I could. Late in 2012 frustrated with her weight and inability to keep up with me and our girls and having a burning desire to get involved with camping and hiking she began her new life on Jan. 1, 2013. Joanna took up running again and i revolutionized the way i cook for our family. Last year my wife was awarded the Triple Crown Award for completing her local running clubs three signature races in one year. Presently she is training hard for her first half marathon in two weeks after losing a total of 100 pounds since last January. She is finally looking forward to seriously starting to engage in hiking and camping more. We are slowly starting to get her supplied and geared up. She is my rockstar and i am so proud of her.

  17. Birch March 22, 2014 at 11:19 pm #

    My kid. Her first trip, she got a fever. Still wanted to do it again. She’s weathered mud, flash floods, bad maps, cold, and crabby parents. She makes me look at the works with wonder again. And gives me an excuse to climb trees. She always wants to carry more of the gear. When I might want to sleep in, she asks if we can go backpacking. She’s not bored of camp chores. I am more likely to stay current on my first aid training and have a reasonable emergency plan knowing she’ll be with us.

  18. Wayne Belt March 23, 2014 at 7:07 am #

    “Mother Goose”, I don’t know her real name, provided a life saving ride for me when caught in a wild storm in southern Virginia. She has hiked many 1,000 of miles on many of the trails in the USA and would rather be on the trail, any trail, then anywhere else.

  19. Happy Hiker March 23, 2014 at 9:35 am #

    Got to give props to my sister Maria – she’s a true outdoors person and a killer hiker. She hiked many trails including the West Coast trail in B.C. Nothing ever gets in her way, she never gives up, no matter how challenging the terrain is.

  20. Agile Trekker March 23, 2014 at 9:41 am #

    Patricia Ellis Herr – for teaching her girls to be strong and independent. She has a wonderful book and blog.

    • Philip Werner March 23, 2014 at 9:46 am #

      I agree. Trish is a great writer and her daughters are an inspiration!

  21. Kevin Salley March 23, 2014 at 10:24 am #

    Sue O has the best attitude for hiking with Boy Scouts on the trails in Upper Michigan.

  22. Blake March 23, 2014 at 10:38 am #

    My wife Cathy is my nomination. We have been hiking together through the backcountry since the winter of 1972.

  23. Daniel Oates March 23, 2014 at 10:46 am #

    I admire Tamae Watanabe, she was the oldest person to summit Mt. Everest at 73. A bit of hiking, backpacking, and climbing. Her physical and mental strength is something that people of all ages and backgrounds can admire!

  24. Anthony March 23, 2014 at 12:57 pm #

    Heather “Anish” Anderson, she hiked the Pacific Crest Trail in 60 days 17 hrs and 12 minutes. I have always wanted to hike that trail. I admire her with this accomplishment. She also had a great article in Backpacker magazine about mental strength.

  25. Andrew Caceres March 23, 2014 at 2:18 pm #

    My dear friend, Abigail, is the person I admire most and the person who inspires me more. After fighting breast cancer for 5 years Abigail went on to backpack Europe and Southeast Asia for 8 months. She has also hiked multiple trails such as the Inca Trail in Peru and the GR20 in France (Insane!). I look up to her so much, and I have been training while she has been away so that I can join her, and support her, on one of these intense treks. Winning this pack would be a blessing, thank you so much for the opportunity!

  26. Kevin Flynn March 23, 2014 at 6:38 pm #

    I greatly admire my aunt – Elizabeth Hayes – who at age 79 continues to hike everyday in the foorhills and mountains of Colorado. She’s been an inspiration o fhow we can continue to enjoy life and the things we love as we age. We might get a little slower, but if we keep putting one foot in front of the other, we’ll get there.

  27. Jeff March 23, 2014 at 7:45 pm #

    That would be my wife, Anissa, who on our first trip as we carried extra heavy car camping equipment persevered on 90 degree humid day and claimed to enjoy it.

  28. Mitchell S. March 23, 2014 at 9:51 pm #

    Aunt Liz is a great hiker. She is easy going and good natured on the trail. I love being around her while camping.

  29. Izzy s. March 23, 2014 at 10:06 pm #

    I enjoy hiking with Peggy from Boy Scouts. She is a workhorse with keeping the boys organized.

  30. Mary S. March 23, 2014 at 10:20 pm #

    Joan is great on the trails with the family every august in Marquette.

  31. kamrawerk March 23, 2014 at 11:25 pm #

    Rockin’ as in ‘Lady on a Rock’… I think she is going for the Triple Crown. She teaches outdoor pursuits to kids. Special gal….

  32. Sharon Jasper March 24, 2014 at 1:24 am #

    I really admire the author Cheryl Strayed because she took on the task of journey on the PCT and found herself.

    • kamrawerk March 27, 2014 at 12:24 pm #

      Have to get Strayed’s book…..

  33. HL March 24, 2014 at 8:03 am #

    My wife’s grandmom have been hiking with her husband and they are not so young anymore. It’s nice to see pictures about their trips and see her love for nature!

  34. Florian March 24, 2014 at 1:06 pm #

    Hi, I can’t find her name, but I read an article about a hiker who did most of the AT barefoot. It was the first time I was exposed to the the idea of long distance barefoot hiking, one that hasn’t left my head yet. A point she mentioned is that it is just a personal choice to hike barefoot and not something impressive – something I need to remind myself of frequently when people comment on my choice.

    • Agile Trekker March 24, 2014 at 9:18 pm #

      Not sure if you mean the “Barefoot Sisters”. They wrote the first book I read on AT through hiking. I’ve read several others now, but this one is my favorite!

  35. Sue March 24, 2014 at 2:13 pm #

    Of course, Grandma Gateway, AT legend, thru hiking back in the day when few did that sort of thing, especially women. I’ve seen her ked’s, that’s right, ked’s sneakers in Damascus, Virginia, at the local outfitter’s shop. She carried a canvas bag slung over her shoulder. Hard core.

  36. allison March 24, 2014 at 2:14 pm #

    She’s an 81 y.o. woman in my hiking club who only has about 100 miles left in completing the entire Appalachian Trail. Suva took up hiking after her children had grown and had moved out of the house.

  37. pilgrimpace March 24, 2014 at 2:14 pm #

    My daughter Meenakshi, learning life lessons from Caminos – “If I keep going I will get to the end”. If I win this, it will be her backpack for her upcoming charity year in Cambodia

  38. AppalachianTrailGirl March 24, 2014 at 2:16 pm #

    I most admire Cheryl Strayed because she’s not only a hiker, but a talented writer. I know she gets a lot of backlash for not being a “real thru-hiker” and for doing drugs when she was young, but it takes a lot of bravery to put your deepest secrets onto paper and publish it for the world to see. I admire her because I hope to one day be as accomplished of a writer as her. And I wouldn’t mind hiking the PCT either.

  39. woooner March 24, 2014 at 2:17 pm #

    I admire my mother. Not only was she an amazing backpacker, she’s an amazing person. For my parents honeymoon, they backpacked in Yosemite National Park instead of vacationing on a tropical island. They’ve inspired me to thru hike the PCT in 2015 and follow in their footsteps to a life of backpacking. The first time my father took her backpacking, she stopped and while looking at him in his foul mood, threw her entire pack off a cliff and informed him she was turning around and not hiking with someone in his mood. What a spitfire! Needless to say, he journeyed down to find her pack and propose within two weeks. They’re celebrating 45 years of love and sharing backpacking knowledge with me for 30 of it! Thanks mom!

  40. Brent Stewart March 24, 2014 at 2:20 pm #

    I’ll have to say Amelia Rudolph – she created Project Bandaloop and they do Vertical Dance performances all over the world, most notably on big walls in the wilderness, where you definitely have to hike in to do it.

  41. Tri B March 24, 2014 at 2:32 pm #

    My rock-star lady is Katie, she does not let her cerebral palsy stop her! As hard as it is sometimes for her, her desire to see the mountains supersedes the hard work. And a shout out to her dad, Leo, who packs her on his back if he has to, just so she can get to her destination! You both ROCK!

  42. Anat Lev Hacohen March 24, 2014 at 2:44 pm #

    I just met the best female hiker, Chealse, when I was in Nepal last Nov. I met her while being at an altitude of 4600m above sea level. We were just about to cross one of the passes in Nepal the next morning and I was really having a hard time breathing. I was a little bit sick (with a flu) and the weather was trouble. We talked for a while over a cup of boiling tea and she was such an inspiration for me. Outgoing, free spirit, kind hearted and full of motivation. I will not be able to forget the conversation we had not in a hundred years from now. She gave me a lot of strength and motivation to keep on going and I think that basically she is the only reason why I didn’t quit and gave up that day.
    The view from the pass was unbelievable and I shall forever be grateful to her for that amazing experience.

  43. Ian March 24, 2014 at 3:13 pm #

    I really admire Rozanne “Muk Muk” Pilbeam, an Aussie hiker of the PCT 2013 class and is currently hiking the Camino trail in Spain. She has an amazing blog, a great personality, and was a big factor in my deciding to start getting into long distance hiking. You’re awesome Muk!

  44. Greg A. March 24, 2014 at 3:24 pm #

    My pick is Cheryl Strayed, the author of the best seller WILD, a story of a frazzled woman who hiked the PCT as therapy, which will be made into a feature film starring Reese Witherspoon. Though normally I eschew celebrities, from what I can tell, she and her book is doing more to bring young women into backpacking than any other single inspiration I’m aware of.

  45. Brittany O March 24, 2014 at 3:43 pm #

    The most inspirational for me would be Ruth Dyar Mendenhall. I didn’t know anything about her until I saw a Nova special on National Parks. She was mountaineer in the 1930s, traversing the Sierra Nevadas and all the while raising a family! She was doing all of this during a time when there was a pretty heavy gender barrier.

  46. Danny Woods March 24, 2014 at 6:48 pm #

    My pick is Chrissy Ford. She may not be known to anybody else but she is a personal hero of mine. Quite simply, she is the one that introduced and taught my wife and myself backpacking, one of the most priceless gifts either of us have been given. She continues to inspire us to go out and do more every day. She has set up her life in such a way that she is able to work from the road and travels around the country going on bucket list backpacking trips seemingly monthly. My wife and I continue to evaluate what’s really important in our lives so that we can more completely enjoy her gift to us.

  47. Robert Diez March 24, 2014 at 6:58 pm #

    I think my wife Dianne is an amazing trekker. She loves the outdoors, especially discovering new trails and looking for the next panoramic view. She is an inspiration to her kids because her passion for hiking and camping has given the bug to go out and see the world.

  48. kevin dreher March 24, 2014 at 7:09 pm #

    I cant think of one female hiker… I just want to thank all the past, present, and future female hikers……you make the trails a better place to be.

  49. Tom J. Hart March 24, 2014 at 7:55 pm #

    I admire my wife Paz Hart. Though she is from SE Asia she is game to try most of my outdoor interests even though they are completely alien to her context.

  50. Zachary Robbins March 24, 2014 at 8:03 pm #

    I admire Danny Bernstein, a hiker from Asheville who’s written several popular books on day hiking in North Carolina plus a complete guide to hiking the MST. I’ve met her once on the trail, and am always surprised how she manages at her age to lead such grueling hikes for the Carolina Mountain Club. She blogs, hikes, runs clubs, and more.

  51. TRT March 24, 2014 at 8:04 pm #

    I know a young woman named Rachael who lives in a remote part of Washington State in a small village surrounded by snow-capped mountains. She hikes every day and writes encouraging/observational articles about her time in nature.

  52. Kevin Thornsberry March 24, 2014 at 8:36 pm #

    I admire my daughter, Abigail Thornsberry, who never complained once on my first overnight backpacking trip into the Chisos Mountains of Big Bend National Park even though I had to stop and rest many, many times.

  53. Mike March 24, 2014 at 9:19 pm #

    I admire my wife, Kimberly. She works incredibly hard to hike the AT with me, I am always impressed.

  54. Kim March 24, 2014 at 9:22 pm #

    Arunima Sinha is my inspiration, she persevered over the loss of a limb and became the first amputee to summit Mt. Everest.

  55. David March 24, 2014 at 9:23 pm #

    I admire my wife, Laura! She puts up with my foolishness and makes every hike worth it! She pushes me to do my best and encourages me whenit gets difficult. I love you, baby!

  56. Brian March 24, 2014 at 9:29 pm #

    My favorite hiker, male or female, is Nicky DeRosa. She’s a friend and a fellow lover of nature. There’s never a hike or trail that she’s afraid to conquer. She always encourages me to have fun, enjoy what’s all around, and make the most out of each adventure! Thanks Nicky!

  57. Jeremy March 24, 2014 at 9:43 pm #

    My favorite female hikers are my wife Brittani and our 3 year old daughter Rylee who on most of the hikes we’ve taken so far in her life have been on my back. Her first overnight hiking trip is coming soon!

  58. James Plantenga March 24, 2014 at 10:26 pm #

    My wife Kat is an amazing lady. She’s super dedicated to all that she puts her mind to. I can’t wait to put some more miles behind us on the trails this summer.

  59. Stonehenge March 24, 2014 at 11:05 pm #

    I’d give another shout out for Heather Anderson. Her accomplishment of hiking the full length of the PCD trail unsupported in 60 days, averaging 45 miles per day is amazing.

  60. Keith March 24, 2014 at 11:20 pm #

    Without question it is my fiancé, Jamie “Blue Bin” McCune. She hike the first 58 miles with me on my Long Trail thru hike last summer. It rained every day and the trail was more like a stream than a foot path. Despite being wet, muddy, and injured from a fall near Stratton Pond, she never complained, and was a terrific partner through it all.

  61. mike stivers March 24, 2014 at 11:29 pm #

    there was once a local gal, now a sandy ego type, who backpacked a lot of cool places. her name is elizabeth planteen. if you’ve never heard of her, dont worry, she never shuts up.. so give it time. lol.

  62. Joe G March 24, 2014 at 11:51 pm #

    For sure, it is Lenore “Lennie” Steinmetz of the AMC-Delaware Valley. Lennie (and her husband Bill) volunteer countless hours with the AMC, leading hikes, weekend trips, and recruiting new leaders. One of the highlights of Lennie’s repertoire is her annual Catskills Winter Hiking Weekend, where she and a group of leaders lead winter hikes to various high peaks in the Catskills, helping people check off some 3500′ peaks on the list. I had an opportunity to go on one of these weekends once, and thoroughly enjoyed myself, and with her guidance, became much more comfortable with hiking during winter conditions.

  63. eric March 26, 2014 at 12:33 pm #

    my girlfriend paige always smiling no matter where when time of the day smile like Chesire[alice in wonderland] even smiles GLOW IN THE DARK LOVE HER DEARLY

  64. Yonah March 31, 2014 at 10:52 pm #

    I admire Deb Lenker because she’s my hiking partner, and she’s always game — she really loves the outdoors, and she loves to be out there with me :-)

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