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The Gap Year Blog

Three Courageous Women And Their Incredible Journeys

28 Mar 2018 13:25 PM
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The movie industry realizes the current demand for strong female characters. Therefore, several motion pictures have brushed up memoirs of women that have undergone incredible adventurous journeys. Meet Cheryl who conquered the Pacific Crest Trail or Robyn, the “Camel Lady”, who crossed an Australian desert in the thrilling movies based on their true stories.

Break free from the past

The first minutes of the movie Wild (2014) are painful as we watch extraordinarily naïve and clumsy Reese Witherspoon trying to pack her absurdly gigantic backpack. She is determined to hike more than 1,000 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail that connects California with Canada’s British Columbia. She is highly unprepared as she had never truly hiked before, however, her current problems force her to set out on the journey and leave everything behind.

The plot of the movie Wild is based on the real story of Cheryl Strayed and her memoir called Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. And if you overcome the initial discomfiture, it will carry you away on an amazing adventure in breathtaking nature that even helped the movie win the Location Managers Guild Award in the category of Outstanding Locations in a Contemporary Film.

During her self-discovery journey, Cheryl combats natural traps as well as the painful memories of her past. Despite her lack of experience and the inconvenient backpack that other hikers nickname “Monster”, Cheryl surprises everyone and successfully reaches the end.

“I knew that if I allowed fear to overtake me, my journey was doomed. Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself a different story from the one women are told. I decided I was safe. I was strong. I was brave. Nothing could vanquish me.”


All I need is three camels

Robyn Davidson, the main character of Tracks (2013), is ready and tough from the beginning. She also wants to overcome her past, however, it occupies only a minor part in the storyline. Robyn is a strong-willed traveller, who spends her time lying on maps with a compass in hand. She can only think about her plan to travel across 1,700 miles of Australian desert and reach the Indian Ocean.

The only obstacle between her and the journey are finances. She must work at farms so that she can afford to buy camels to carry her luggage. Despite her disfavor, she also makes an agreement with a National Geographic photographer Rick Smolan to be sponsored by the magazine and allows him to report on her journey.

After several months, she can finally set out. In contrast to Cheryl, she doesn’t fight with nature as much as the unwanted popularity, caused by Smolan’s photographs, and irritating followers that make her adventure more painful than the sharp desert sun does. Her journey provides an analogy of the clash of nature and civilization that undoubtedly represents the villain side. The essential part of the story revolves around her romantic relationship with Rick. According to the trailer and posters, his character seems to be crucial for the plot, however, Robyn is determined to keep her toughness and independence in the movie.

“I’m remarkably unqualified for such a hazardous undertaking. But this is precisely the point of my journey. I’d like to think an ordinary person is capable of anything.”


The boom of the female-focused travel industry

Both movies are entwined with a romantic storyline, as usually happens to films featuring main female characters. However, Cheryl and Robyn are still portrayed as strong, independent and courageous women determined to achieve the target they’ve set on their own. Such characters are important for the current movie industry; moreover, they’re inspiring and encouraging.

Nowadays, the travel industry focused mainly on women is gaining in popularity. This year, 53% of adventure travel customers are female compared with 51% in 2017. “We still have a long way to go, of course, and decades of sexism in the outdoor industry to fight against. But I think companies have gotten better at marketing to women,” says Abigail Wise, online managing editor at Outside magazine for National Geographic. These travel movies might help to achieve this goal.

The third and last story we would like to introduce to you is also based on romance as it follows the memoir written by Tami Oldham Ashcraft called Red Sky In Mourning: A True Story Of Love, Loss, And Survival At Sea. The movie adaptation of Tami’s story about sailing the ocean and surviving one of the most catastrophic hurricanes in recorded history is called Adrift and it is going to be released this year.

By Eliška Olšáková - Online Journalism Intern

Frontier runs terrestrial & marine conservation, community, teaching and adventure projects in over 50 countries - join us and explore the world!