Today I got a call from a local CBC producer asking me to join in a conversation at 4 pm about hiking around the Lower Mainland. It was topical, given that we have our first real sunny weekend on our doorstep. My first thought was: I haven’t written a blog post in, oh I don’t know, MORE THAN SIX MONTHS. I haven’t really taken a proper hike in at least two. What qualifies me to speak on the air with the fill-in afternoon show host (sadly not Stephen Quinn) at a moment’s notice?
Well gang, I am a lady with a blog. And that makes me an expert. It also identifies me as a lady… and here is where the interview went a little funny.
I prepared for the discussion, and as 4 pm approached my heart began to race as I waited for the phone to ring. I sat at my desk with two pages of highlighted notes in front of me (lest I forget what I wanted to say about, you know, water and maps and basic backwoods safety). I was going to be an expert. At hiking. I was going to be a female voice on the air, giving advice about hanging out in the outdoors. It was all such a nice confirmation of my values, the ones that prompted me to establish this blog in the first place.
In the lead up to the interview, host Jason Proctor asked listeners “have you ever been halfway up a mountain hiking trail, and come across someone in dress shoes…” His intention here was to foreground a discussion about properly preparing for outdoor recreation. But instead of chatting about our own lived experiences, being underprepared in the woods, and being humbled by these experiences, it seems to me that this intro came out as a mockery of people who do not belong on trails in the woods. People with inappropriately dressy footwear. Also mentioned in this intro: “old people” and people with … injuries. Cue me, getting more uncomfortable with this characterization of who, maybe, is over their head, and shouldn’t be outside. And towards the end of our chat, the host asked me something along the lines of: “Now, Amy, makeup on the trail: Yay or nay?”
I stopped for a second, and frowned into my phone. Is he asking whether I wear makeup on the trail? Why would this be anyone’s business? No, of course, I realized, he was asking me whether I condone others wearing makeup on the trail. Like, do I want to weigh in here on how other women (and men) look while they are hiking. As if this is relevant to anything.
So, that was weird.
I answered in what I think were measured tones that no, I personally am not concerned with my appearance while hiking, but “to each her own, I guess” … and when prompted to comment on the appearance of my fellow hikers, I attributed the fancy trail togs phenomenon to the particular culture of the Lower Mainland. If I had been asked, I would have elaborated more about our obsession with gear and consumption. I was not interested in weighing in on women’s appearance while they are walking on a public trail outside. Sheesh.
Thoughts? Was that what the makeup question was really about? Or did I read it wrong?
Anyhow, it was a fun experience. And it made me think about Lady Camping’s values. Namely, I don’t care if you wear makeup. Don’t ask me again. But let’s talk about camping and hiking!
On that note, I have a series of five more blog posts coming this summer over at the Travel BC blog. Stay tuned!
UPDATE : We have the audio file! If you would like to hear the interview please stream it from the link below. Thanks to CBC’s On The Coast