I feel safe outside. But, I know that a lot of women do not. And to be fair, I have not and do not always feel safe. I can sometimes get spooked when I am hiking by myself and a man is a little too friendly or hiking too closely to me. Sometimes I worry for a moment if I feel turned around or feel like I have been too long to not be able to see the car on the way back. Sometimes I get terrible vertigo, a lasting present from my days in Grand Canyon. These all seem to me like reasonable fears to have, but not reasons to not be outside.
Most of the things that make us fearful about being outside have to do with preparation. Fear of getting lost subsides with gaining navigational skills and choosing well-marked trails. Fear of dirt and bugs and small injuries start to disappear with experience and time. Other fear though, fear of the dark, fear of animals, fear of aloneness, these are the challenges and opportunities that the wilderness presents us. Ultimately, there is no way to eliminate all risk, either in the wilderness or in our day to day lives. What is important is the choice. Do you let your fears hold you back, inside and away from the world, or do you step out?