Sexual Harassment on the PCT

Long-distance hiking often involves spending time around and placing trust in strangers for rides into town, places to sleep, food, and more. While many hikers experience only kindness and generosity from trail angels and others they meet along their journey, it is important to always remain aware of your surroundings and be thoughtful about the help and company you accept.

However, PCTA does not blame victims for assault and we apologize for any harm and impact that the previous version of this page caused by focusing on victim behaviors. Those who commit acts of sexual violence, harassment, and intimidation are not welcome on the PCT.

While it is important to be aware of your surroundings, it is also important to be aware of the impact that your behavior has on others, whether you are in town or on the trail, and whether they are a stranger, a friend, or a member of your trail family. Some advice below:

Consent is everything

  • Do not touch a person or violate a person’s personal space without their explicit consent. Also, consent for one type of touch does not equate to consent for others, nor does it equate to consent for additional touching. If you’re unclear, ask!
  • Do not follow someone too closely, understand that their boundaries might not be the same as yours.
  • If you are attempting to befriend a fellow traveler, ask their permission to chat, hike together, get a meal, etc.
  • Be generous, but do not try to force anyone to eat or drink anything you’ve prepared and don’t be offended if they decline because they don’t know what’s in it. Ask or offer.
  • Getting turned down does not entitle you to aggression, hostility, or obsession. Lack of consent is just that.
  • “No means no,” and a lack of “yes” also means “no.”
  • Intoxication is not an excuse.

If you see someone who might be experiencing harassment of any kind, don’t be a bystander. If it is safe, take action or find others to assist. Start by asking “do you need help?” Additional action can include getting someone to safety, reporting to authorities, helping them to reinforce their boundaries, and making sure that others are aware of the situation.

Sexual harassment and sexual assault are crimes. Please report crimes, harassment, and suspicious people or activities to local authorities. Call 911 in case of an emergency and get yourself to safety as soon as possible. Reporting harassment leaves important documentation.

Additionally, report all incidents to the U.S. Forest Service PCT incident report form. If you need assistance or support with reporting, email or call the PCTA at 916-285-1846.

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