Reposted from the November 2018 issue of Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine.
Emma Wright, 23
Founder of Alta Trails, N.C.
Emma Wright says she was acutely aware of her gender during the four and a half months she took off from college to thru hike the Appalachian Trail.
“Overall, about a quarter of the thru hikers on the Appalachian Trail are women,” she said. “But the number of solo women is a fraction of that.”
Wright, a cultural anthropology major at Duke, wrote her senior thesis about how hikers form bonds and form boundaries on the trail. She interviewed thru-hikers while on the trail and conducted follow up interviews about the reentry process.
In conducting this research, Wright was bothered by the lack of racial and gender diversity on the trail.
With her own experience in mind, Wright started Alta Trails to offer affordable backpacking trips in North Carolina and Virginia for anyone who identifies as a woman. Through donations, she provides all of the gear and supplies needed for the weekend trips as she works to break down some of the barriers for those who have never been backpacking. As the program grows, Wright hopes to offer trips for a variety of age groups and skill levels.
Trail name: Wonka