We at Women Who Hike are storytellers. At the heart of what we are doing we are here to inspire and tell you about the women who inspire us. Every Friday we do something called Feature Friday on our social channels.
Feature Friday is much more than just sharing a cool photo of one of our followers on a trail or on a mountain top. These women who we choose to highlight every week are doing extraordinary things, beating the odds, fighting through an emotional battle, pushing the limits once set by someone or soeething and overcoming circumstances through hiking.
If you or someone you know fit this critera, we would love to learn more, submit your story by using the 'Contact Us' link in our footer, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
MoJo CoastWalk July 24, 2016
Today's Feature Friday may look familiar but these two, Mo & Jo @mojocoastwalk begin their long journey (1,200 miles) down the California Coast in order to raise funds and awareness for the California Coastal Trail. Here is their story and more about the CCT:
"We’ve teamed up with the California Coastal Trail Association (CCTA) to help spread the word about the trail; they’ve been advocating for CCT completion for over 30 years. Starting in May will be representing the CCTA as official Trail Ambassadors for the California Coastal Trail! Right now, there are many segments of coastal trail, but they aren’t all connected, so during our hike we will likely hit fences, be routed along dangerous stretches of highway, or be forced to skirt around rocky points at low tides. Most of our days will be dictated by the tides, as many stretches of beach are impassable when the water is high. This is actually one part of the adventure we are most excited about: living by the lunar cycles and the tides; getting in sync with the simplest rhythms in life. This is quite an epic journey we are about to begin: hiking 1,200 miles along the the California Coast. Once completed, the California Coastal Trail will run the entire length of the California coastline from Oregon to Mexico. The vision is for the entire trail to be within sight, sound, or smell of the Pacific Ocean. Currently, the trail is about halfway complete. We need your help fellow @WomenWhoHike! Come meet us for a hike and help us spread the word about this amazing trail! Learn more about our cause, donate and contact us about when we will be in your area, we would love to meet up with fellow #WomenWhoHike!"
Emily Maybee July 22, 2016
When I moved to Oregon a few years ago, I moved with the intention of living a healthier lifestyle. I wanted to get outside more, eat better, drink less, and try to find the me that I’d been searching for my whole life, whatever that meant.
I began hiking, doing short hikes every now and then, but before I knew it I was hooked. I started obsessing over hiking (I still do!) searching for places online, reading hiking books, and soon enough I was hiking every week, and every chance I got.
Then this year I decided to add fitness to the equation. Although I already ate somewhat healthy, (plant based for life!) I didn’t work out at all besides hiking. Five months in and two workout programs later, I feel like a different person. Not necessarily just because of fitness, or even hiking, or eating healthy, but because the combination of all these things together have created something inside of me that I had been lacking, confidence. Confidence, to actually set reachable goals for myself, to stand up to myself in order to work hard for what I want, to tell myself “I CAN do it!”, and to allow myself to be okay when I’m not yet where I want to be. This confidence that’s growing inside of me isn’t just about how I look or want to be perceived, it’s absolutely overflowing into every aspect of my life. Work, relationships, personal growth and development, hiking, fitness, staying true to myself, while holding myself accountable in order to push myself further. But it’s not just the confidence either, it’s the idea that we don’t just accomplish something and then stop, we set our minds on something else, whether that be heavier weights or higher elevation gains, we constantly have to be making small steps.
31 years I’ve been alive and I’m just now realizing that I want the steps I take, to always be moving forward. Never did I imagine that I could quiet the negative self talk in my head, but it’s only a whisper now. Finding my confidence, finding a love for myself, I can’t help but see that all these small steps I’m taking are turning into leaps.
For instance, yesterday I hiked one of the hardest trails I’ve done so far going 1600 ft in elevation in just under a mile, climbing in some sections with my hands, and leaning into the side of the mountain as to not slip down the side. My legs were burning, my calves tightening; and my mind kept wandering to the “going back down” part, but I just kept looking a few feet ahead. I took breaks when I needed, took slow controlled steps, and tried not to look back. When we finally made it to the top I couldn’t help but laugh because I was standing atop a rocky ridge, with a 360 degree view of the Columbia River gorge, probably the highest point there I’ve been so far, and with 300-500 foot drops all around me. But I wasn’t scared anymore. I pushed myself and I came out thriving! I worked hard for that hike, for myself, and I can’t help but try to take that same approach to the rest of my life.
I just wanted to say that I could go on and on about hiking and about what it’s taught me about life, about what nature has taught me about life, but I think that I will try to keep it short and sweet because it really does come back to believing in yourself, and accessing the confidence inside of you to be willing to reach for your goals no matter how big or small. For me, these have been hard lessons to learn, but the lessons aren’t over yet, I hope they never are.
Katelin K July 08, 2016
Today's Feature Friday is @kktella, she is currently hiking the Oregon Coast Trail despite being diagnosed with both Chrons disease and endometriosis. She is a strong and positive example of a woman who hikes, and her story is about how being outside is her choice, her empowerment and how she is choosing to take control of her life, body and diagnosis and this is her story:
"Two years ago I wasn't a hiker. I wasn't outside at all really. I had been diagnosed with Crohn's disease and Endometriosis and was constantly dealing with flare ups of pain, fatigue and digestive turmoil. Most people diagnosed with chronic pain reach a point in their journey when they would rather have control over their pain than have their pain control them.
Hiking is my way of taking control. I would much rather deal with the pain of blisters within blisters and the burn in your quads when you're conquering a 2,000 ft elevation gain in the span of 2 miles than be laying on the couch with a heating pad worrying about the distance between me and the bathroom.
Right now, I'm one week into a six week adventure hiking the Oregon Coast Trail, about 400 miles from the Washington border to the California border. Most people we talk to along the way have no idea what the Oregon Coast Trail is or that it even exists. A lot of people say 'oh is that the same as the Pacific Crest Trail?' I'm hoping people become more aware of this incredible trail in the near future, because the coast is absolutely breathtaking and completely worth seeing in its entirety.
I have never felt stronger, more at peace, and in control of my body than I have while following the trail. And honestly, my state of health has never been better. If you ask me, nature beats any drug a doctor can prescribe!"
Sarah Rachele July 01, 2016
Sarah, at just 26 has done the thru hike of the PCT and has now embarked on a second thru hike, the Colorado Trail. This is her story: "I'm a 26 year old travel nanny who a few years ago "went out to go in" by adventuring, hiking, ridge-line and mountaintop seeking which saved me from myself. It was Hawaii that transformed my soul into something I had endlessly been searching... That gripping sensation of a summit! The islands helped me develop a better understanding of myself, a raw & unfiltered, perspective after the reeling bewilderment of a failed marriage and years spent after chasing my own rebellion. After many years of traversing the same trails over and over, learning to face myself, forgive myself and move forward, I decided that I craved something more... something my career or a relationship or a friend couldn't give me.
The Pacific Crest Trail was just that. So, last April I set off on my very first thru-hike to cover 2,658 miles from Mexico to Canada. It was on the trail that I discovered within me, a powerful feeling that was me committing to something so huge. I've never felt so strong, I've never been more impressed by my body and mind's ability to preserve. I've never been more proud of me. It took me 4 months and 25 days to complete the entirety of the trail. I've spent the past six months since, working all over the world and will be returning to Hawaii soon after a 1300 mile roadtrip to prepare for my next thru-hike of the Colorado Trail this July. Capable is a powerful feeling."
Courtney Kasey June 24, 2016
What is written below from @need2hike is SO important... Today's Feature Friday is perhaps the most moving, raw and honest story we have ever shared. From @need2hike, "I get asked all the time, 'Why do you hike' or 'What made you start hiking so much' The answer is, Because I NEED to. I need to because not long ago my marriage to my high school sweetheart imploded. I need to because after more than two decades together, I was alone with two small children, against my will and against what I believed were my best efforts. I need to because I was filled with a level of rage, anger, and sadness that I had never known. I need to because, I’m a control freak who lost all control of the life I worked so hard to create... When he left, our daughter was only 5 months old. Our son was at school and I remember melting to the kitchen floor. I was holding her and sobbing as the front door closed. She just stared at me and with her dimpled uncoordinated hands wiped at my face. We spent a year in limbo with a few unsuccessful attempts at reconciliation, including a week long camping and hiking trip. I knew nature could heal, and I was hoping it would work its magic on us. It failed. We failed, again.
The need to find something, to improve the life I was living, was desperately needed. I just didn’t know what that was. So, in February 2015, I strapped my then 18 month old on my back, and the three of us went hiking. With each hike I could literally feel chunks of anger, resentment, and fear, fall off of me with each hike. I felt stronger and more capable. I could breathe deeper. I could quiet the noise in my head.
I set out on this hiking challenge to be an example for my son, To show him that no matter what life throws at you, it’s how you react that matters.
Hiking is healing me, I’m no longer consumed by the anger and sadness. Hiking is also healing and teaching my children. They’ve learned that you just never know what’s around the corner...
I’m looking forward to all the adventures we’ll have together and remind myself that “Over every mountain there is a path, although it may not be seen from the valley.” – Theodore Roethke
Alyssa Stewart June 17, 2016
Today's Feature Friday comes from survivor and sports and outdoor enthusiast, @lyssakat65: When I was only 7 years old I was diagnosed with heart disease. The disease is called supra ventricular tachycardia or SVT. My heart rate can sky rocket within seconds from a resting heartbeat of 60 beats per minute to 200 + beats per minute. I was told from a young age to play life on the safe side and to avoid all strenuous activity.
I had been swimming since I was a baby. The water has always felt like home to me and at the time I was diagnosed with heart disease I was very much involved in my hometown swim team. My diagnosis was not about to make me quit what I knew I was put on this earth to do. I stuck with swimming through college and my success included several state titles and numerous awards throughout my swimming career.
After a life of struggle and awards with swimming, when it ended I didn't know what to do with myself. I felt broken, I always had swimming to give me attention and to drive me to prove others wrong. Without swimming I felt like a nobody. I felt like heart disease defined me now...not swimming.
I fell into a depression. I didn't feel like myself and soon the weight of the world was on my shoulders once more. I was diagnosed with PTSD and a severe trauma disorder. The treatment for heart disease wasn't always easy and after a horrible failed heart surgery I began to have severe anxiety issues.
I finally filled that void swimming left when I moved to northern Colorado three months ago. I started hiking and immediately fell in love. The thrill of finishing a hike and reaching the top of a summit even when you want to quit sometimes sparked a fire back in my soul. Even though the elevation can slow me down with my heart I have my dog who helps me finish every hike. He isn't a trained service dog but he sure acts like one and is very hypersensitive to my heart and what I need to make it to the finish. Hiking with my dog helped me feel alive and not just a heart disease victim, but a heart disease survivor again.
Evonne Randle June 24, 2016
Today's Feature Friday is, @jurnythrumyeyes1. This is her real and raw story about turning tragedy into triumph and how hiking is impacting her health, both physical and mental:
We all have a journey and a story to share, my name is Evonne and my journey started on 09/05/14 when I lost my Mom. She had a stroke due to uncontrolled diabetes. When she was diagnosed, she was angry with the world, with god, with family and with life. She was so stubborn and refused to listen or comprehend that diabetes could, in fact be controlled. But, that was the issue: Controlled. My mother was the one who always in control and it was difficult for her to allow this disease to control her. Sadly, instead of fighting to live, she lost her will to live. She allowed her anger to build up and control her mind. It was in her passing, that I realized that ‘mind over matter’ is powerful.
It was after losing my mom, that my own life was was suddenly in chaos and it was the motto of the @52hikechallenge that intrigued me. It was simple and yet so powerful, changing your life, one step at a time. It was then that everything suddenly clicked! I accepted the challenge and my life has never been the same. Although I am not at my desired weight (ok chunky 😀) I knew that hiking once a week would be challenging. But I quickly I learned it's not about how tall, short, chunky or skinny you are, it's simply about your desire to get to your final destination, whether it is the waterfall, the mountain peak or merely 1 mile from the start of the trail. It is about taking that first step and trying. And if you don't succeed the 1st time, you don't give up! You take a breath and try again another day (the waterfall, mountain, trail isn't going anywhere). A wise leader once told me while climbing Cucamonga Peak, "Don't worry about anyone else. This is about you. Right Now, in this moment. You got this”. Those words are golden… If you believe in yourself, nothing in the world is impossible.
"The woman I was yesterday, introduced me to the woman I am today; which makes me very excited about meeting the woman I will become tomorrow"
Kirstie Ennis May 27, 2016
Marine. Veteran. Stunt Woman. Future Paralympian. Motivational Speaker. Philanthropist. Hiker. Inspiration... This is @kirstie_ennis, former marine and amputee WHO HIKES & we at @WomenWhoHike are honored to be sharing her story for this Memorial Day weekend's Feature Friday:
"My name is Kirstie Ennis. I currently live in San Diego, but have gypsy blood & find myself all over the world.
At 17 I joined the Marine Corps. At age 21 I was on my second deployment to Afghanistan. I was serving as a .50 cal door gunner and airframes mechanic on the CH-53. I thought my life was over on June 23, 2012 when I sustained traumatic injuries due to my helicopter crashing. To date I have had 42 surgeries treating things like an above the knee amputation, facial reconstruction, bilateral shoulder damage, & so on. I am lucky to have come as far as I have.
Being in the outdoors, and specifically hiking, has literally gotten me on my own two feet again. When I was medically retired, I felt as though I had lost my purpose. I became lost, but in the outdoors, I found myself again. I have challenged myself & pushed myself beyond all of the limits that were set for me when I was in the hospital. I may not be the first up the mountain, but trust me, I'll get there. I'm a little different now than when I once started this adventure we call life, but I'm as whole as I've ever been thanks to hiking.
This fall I'll be climbing Carstenzs Pyramid with the Heroes Project. It has never been summited by someone with an injury like mine, & has never been attempted by a woman with an injury like mine. I'm doing it for the Brothers & Sisters who never made it home from Iraq & Afghanistan... "Rest easy we will take it from here"
Lizzy Van Patten May 20, 2016
This is Lizzy @lizzyvanpatten, and she is today's Feature Friday. Lizzy is a solo explorer who gave up chasing a job and an income in order to travel, while living out of her van and climb mountains where and when she wants to! How inspiring... This is her story: "There is a very real part of me that desires to do something that society sees as respectable. For as long as I can remember I found my self-worth through academic achievement. I graduated 3 years ago with a B.S. in Mathematics and a B.A. in Political Science/Social Studies with plans of taking my actuarial exams after my first trip to South America. And then I changed... In October of 2014 I set off on a solo mission to South America, with only one plan, to explore Patagonia. I backpacked my way through Guatemala and hopped on a plane further south, splitting my time between Chile and Argentina. For months I lived in the mountains, disconnected from comforts. After living out of a backpack for 6 months, I realized how little I really needed. What I discovered is that the less "things" I owned the less stress I felt. So last October, I sold the majority of my belongings and moved into a 2000 GMC Savannah and have committed to climbing all over the world.
I get asked ALL THE TIME when I am going to use my degrees. My college friends are working for Microsoft, succeeding as actuaries, getting into programming, and teaching lucky students. My brother works for Boeing and one of my best friends is a damn doctor. And then there's me, I have not worked for the past 5 months. I often find myself getting embarrassed when people ask me what I do and then I feel the need to explain my life decisions.
But when I stand on top of a mountain, teach a friend to climb, or explore a new region of the world, I don't feel the need to explain anything. I realized that I do not need anyone else's approval. Given the option, I would choose my van over an apartment, climbing a rock over going to a fancy dinner, sleeping under the stars for a comfy bed. So instead of committing to a 'respectable' job, I am going to keep climbing"
New Heights Hiking May 20, 2016
Hurts, hang ups, heartache... We, as women can agree this is something we will have in common throughout our lives.
We at Women Who Hike are proof that hiking can heal you, can help you cope with all kinds of struggles. And on today's Feature Friday, we are delighted to share New Heights Hiking. This is their story and mission: "We all have our trials in life, whether we are open to acknowledging them and finding a solution is the question... We started New Heights Hiking for anyone who is having a hard time with anxiety, depression, addiction, eating disorders, as well as extending to the families who have been effected. We want people to get outside with us, and see that this beautiful world can help to free them of these illnesses; to help people not feel alone. A place where you can be at peace and open with what is around you. In starting New Heights Hiking, we want to help bring awareness that this is happening all around us and its getting worse as the years pass, but together we can overcome these issues. We want to conquer these struggles one mountain at a time, please come out with us and take a hike"
Colleen, WhiteMountainHigh May 13, 2016
Feature Friday comes from @whitemountainhigh & tells a tale of real perseverance & overcoming a serious medical diagnosis in order to conquer the NH48. She is now, in fact, currently on a cross country trip after having quit her job to seek adventure... This is Colleen's story: "My hiking journey began in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. I was hooked after the first few hikes and I found that I loved the "good hurt" as well as the beautiful sights and the challenge. After my first backpacking trip I was absolutely addicted to bagging peaks, so I set a goal to summit all 48 of the White Mountains over 4,000 feet. I knew it would be a difficult but incredible feat. What I didn't know is how this journey would transform me. Embarking on this quest is quite possibly the best thing I've ever done for myself... Flash forward to summit 23 out of 48 and I was on track to complete my goal in just a few more months. Then, one morning I woke up with an indescribable pain in my lower back. I sprung a fever and by that afternoon I couldn't walk. I was admitted into the hospital and couldn't even sit up for days. After five days I was diagnosed with septic sacroiliitis: an extremely rare infection in the sacroiliac joint.
For the next month or so I couldn't walk, bathe myself or eat much at all. I couldn't work, I lost my apartment, and I was suffering mentally.
Although I was told by doctors and physical therapists that hiking was out of the question for a LONG time, it was my drive to complete the New Hampshire 48 was an enormous factor in my recovery. I took it week by week and pushed myself as much as possible, starting with walks up and down the stairs in my house, then building up to a walk around the block, then to a mile through the woods, then to short hikes in the Blue Hills. In July I climbed my next 4,000 ft mountain and when I reached the summit I burst into tears. I had never been so proud.
Finishing the NH48 became more than a goal. It was my big "f you" to sacroiliitis. Hiking has transformed me into a confident, strong, dedicated, and goal-oriented badass. No matter what life throws at me, I can endure and I will persevere."
Boulder Hiker Chicks May 06, 2016
We are really excited to be featuring @boulderhikerchicks. Every time we see one of their photos pop up in our feed we know these women have a deep connection with the outdoors & each another, here is their story:
"When I, Alli moved from New England to Boulder, I set out to find like-minded women to share the mountains with me. I was fortunate enough to meet Kari Armstrong & we became a team at BHC. We have done over 50 hikes together with our group & we are blessed to have countless new friends & the memories of amazing adventures. Here are some short testimonies about BHC from a few of our ladies:
@yeahkaren: Hiking is how I found my tribe. I've moved several times & every time I've gotten to a new place it's taken me at least a year to start making friends. This time, within just months I made a number of new friends.
@cotilo18: After I had bariatric surgery to help fight genetic obesity, I was looking for a way to get active & connect with nature. Not only did I discover the world of hiking but I found a fantastic group of strong, supportive & kind women.
@amyarndt18: My neighbor found BHC on Facebook & asked if I wanted to check it out with her. I had spent the past year changing my diet & unexpectedly losing 45 lbs. I had also been grieving a miscarriage & hoping to fill the emptiness. I jumped into the group & felt right at home. Hiking & being around this awesome group of people hasn't filled the emptiness (not sure I want it filled) but w/ each hike, I find new strength & perspective.
@slemmert: When I moved to Boulder it was hard to make friends, then I found the BHC & was so excited because I love to hike but was intimated to go out alone. While hiking, it's so easy to talk & connect w/ the girls. We support & encourage each other & there isn't any competition.
@kariarmstrong: I settled with my family in Boulder, CO almost 5 years ago & met Alli through our daughters in 2013 & it was then that my adventurous exploration really took off. Two years later, we are planning & organizing hikes for women of all ages in & around Boulder. I wouldn't trade anything for the sense of accomplishment, confidence & joy I've gained w/ the BHC"
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