If you go outdoors, don’t go alone

Gabby Felitto, Opinion Columnist

Many who come to UVM are outdoorsy people looking to experience the exciting skiing and hiking trails Vermont has to offer.

Being from New York City, I wouldn’t say that I am not an outdoors person, but I am more of an urban outdoors person. 

My favorite outdoors activity is walking from my neighborhood in the Upper West Side all the way down to 14th Street and back. I also really like walking around Central Park. 

Sure, I like going on hikes once in a while, but it’s not my thing.

Due to growing up in NYC, I feel that I have never been completely comfortable staying in wilderness areas for longer than a week. I always found the mountain towns we stayed in to be eerily quiet and scary. Houses are so far away from each other and it gets so dark at night in these areas. 

While NYC, as well as other cities, have much higher crime rates, I have always felt much safer in the city compared to more rural areas. Even in a small city like Burlington, I feel more anxious when going out.

When I’m walking home alone at night in NYC, I rarely ever feel scared. When walking at night on Church Street with my friend, I feel like my heart is going to leap out of my chest. 

This all has to do with how secluded everything is in rural areas. I know that if there is someone scary by me in NYC, there will be thousands of people next to me that can help. 

If I am alone on a trail and someone scary comes up to me, no one will be around to help. I’m more likely to be absolutely alone in the outdoors than on the intimidating, trash and graffiti filled streets of NYC. 

Even on the subway platform, where I could get pushed, I never feel as anxious as when I’m staying in a cabin in the woods, because I know there will be people around. 

When I was little, going on hikes with my family, I remember not crossing paths with anyone for long periods of time. 

Knowing that if I am ever hiking, swimming or climbing in a secluded area and that there is a big chance that only a handful of people are around me, doesn’t make me want to do outdoors activities. 

My true crime obsession most likely has much to do with my anxiety of being alone, which causes me to be terrified of more remote nature spots. 

I hear of scary murderers snatching a lone person on a trail or stalking a camping group more than I can count. 

One lesson I have learned from these true crime shows, podcasts and books is to never be alone and that when someone goes somewhere rural alone, they end up missing. 

In secluded rural areas, like the uncharted areas around National Parks, it is likely that potential murderers would be much more attracted to committing their crimes in these areas, as they will have the privacy to do so.

Many serial killers even get named after the areas they murder and hide their victims in, like the Green River killer, Yosemite Park Killer and the Genesee River Killer. 

I know that my fear of being alone in the secluded outdoors is all in my head, but I can’t help but let my mind wander. I know I will be safe more likely than not if I go hiking, but the thought of a Ted Bundy or Gary Ridgeway popping out from within the trees will never leave my mind. 

While those who were raised to love the outdoors with the dirt and trees feel content and safe in the forest, as a city girl, I feel much safer with the concrete, so I will take my chances in NYC.