I joined Sandy while she attended this year’s Trail Dames Summit in Maryville, TN. Walking in to register, I noticed there weren’t many other guys around. After all, this is a place where women can get together and talk about women and hiking. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I figured that many of the Trail Dames would have many more trail miles than me. Boy was I right! There were many AT thru-hikers, PCT hikers, and CDT hikers. Plus a couple of Triple Crown gals.

Trail Dames registration
Goodie bags and goodies at registration

Seeing this group of women was a reminder that you can’t judge a book by its cover. There were women of all shapes and sizes, all ethnicities and backgrounds, brought together by a common love of hiking.

Trail Dames Anna Mud Butt
Anna, aka MudButt, welcomes all to the Trail Dames Summit

Not all attendees were “tough and ready” trail women. Some were just starting their hiking careers, and were there to learn how to transition from day hiker to backpacker. Others were just there to meet fellow day hikers and plan places to explore. And that is just what the Trail Dames are all about. Women helping women get out on the trails.

Presentation on the Camino de Santiago
Presentation on the Camino de Santiago

The weekend was filled with fun, fellowship, and classes on how and where to hike. I joined Sandy at each of the meals, and could see and hear the excitement among them!

STrail Dames Adventurer of the Year Sandra
Sandy’s Adventurer of the Year Award
Sandy, with a little help from me, did our presentation about How to Hike the Florida Trail. Pathfinder, one of their own, took time off her AT thru-hike to visit and share her adventure. When the summit ended she was heading back to Port Clinton to continue walking north. It was great to see Sandy get honored by the group, too, with their 2013 Adventurer of the Year Award.

There were only a few of us guys around, and most of them kept their distance and were as quiet as a church mice. Todd was there with Roam in the Woods. Since he was wearing a kilt, I think he was their favorite. Next year John (our Springer Mountain ridgerunner from last spring, surprising us with his appearance here) and I will have to give some thought to joining the Kilt Clan.

But even then, we’ll still watch from the distance. Because this ladies-only event is a great opportunity for them to share their love of hiking, and the outdoors among themselves.

Sandy’s been invited to be next year’s Trail Dames Summit keynote speaker, at Appalachian State University in Boone NC. So I’ll be back next year, watching from the distance. Will a kilt make my legs look short?

The Florida Trail Dames
The Florida Trail Dames

PS. The Florida Trail Dames were well represented. Mark your calendars for next year, there might be a special Trail Dames/Florida Hikes t-shirt available so they’ll know where you came from!