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Welcome to the Outdoor Women Lead blog: The OWL Nest! This blog will complement the videos that teach outdoor and naturalist skills as part of the OWL series. OWL is a collaborative project between Women for Healthy Rural Living (WHRL) and Maine Outdoor School, L3C (MOS), two organizations based in Milbridge, ME.

The OWL Nest will answer questions about outdoor experiences specific to female-identifying individuals, such as using the bathroom when there is no bathroom, outdoor hygiene, and safety. We also welcome your questions or ideas for future topics.

Spending time outdoors requires a different set of preparations for females than males. Women can have equal experiences in nature and are just as equipped to spend time outdoors as males, but there are differences in how we are built that influence how we must plan for outdoor time. In fact, there is evidence that those of us with wider hips are better equipped to deal with hardships outdoors. We can carry more weight comfortably over longer periods of time and we have slower metabolic rates. Through demystifying some of the intricacies of being female outdoors, we hope to reduce a few barriers that women and girls face when considering heading outside.

I remember reading A Year in the Maine Woods by Bernd Heinrich and, although I loved reading his daily log of life exploring the outdoors while based in his remote cabin, I could only think about how different my daily routines were when I lived in similar settings. For about a quarter of the month, I could not simply get up and head outside for some nature observation right away–I’d have to deal with my period without running water and a flush toilet. If I had to pee in the middle of the night, heading outside to bare my entire lower half to the biting insects, precipitation, cold, or a combination of the three was a bit of undertaking that could interrupt quite a bit of sleep. An unknown male in the area would always make me nervous. Bernd never had to plan for these kinds of situations.

But for me, being immersed in the natural world is worth managing all those considerations. It makes me feel the most connected, the happiest, and the most confident–and this sense of well being from spending time in nature is backed up by science. Spending time in nature is one of the most effective ways of improving health and happiness. Everyone deserves this benefit, so by thoughtfully planning ahead, we can all have just as immersive experiences as Bernd; it just may look a little different.

Subscribe to this blog and stay tuned for future posts. Next up: meeting your needs where there are no toilets.