When I posted about the Ladies Hiking Group my sister and I started, a lot of you chimed in, telling me how you’d like to start something similar! You asked how we did it and how we maintain our group, so I thought I’d write a Q&A post, to hopefully nudge you in the right direction.
The first time my sister and I talked about creating a hiking group was when I was about 6 months postpartum with my 3rd baby. I had the best delivery with her, the months following were better than I’d anticipated them to be with 3 little ones, but as the days became darker (outside), I started feeling sad, anxious and not at all like myself. I called my sister and we talked about how we need to do fun things—-fun things that pull us out of our sweatpants and aren’t necessarily “mom things”. I told her I wanted adventure and challenge. I wanted to go out with other women and do things that would help my body and mind become stronger. It was October and so instead of starting our hiking group right then, we resolved to wait until the following summer when my baby was 1 (and no longer depending on me for nursing).
June of 2014 came and we threw our hiking group idea out on Facebook. Friends wanted to come! We were ecstatic! Rain or shine, hot weather or cold weather, we’ve hiked every month since. Our group consists of 151 women, who are either close friends, relatives, or friends-of-friends. Our group is private for safety reasons and we don’t hike with anyone that one of the women in our group doesn’t personally know. For us, this has worked well. I feel safe with these girls and I trust them.
Together, we’ve conquered mountains, taken way too many sweaty selfies, we’ve talked marriage, parenting, school choices and every time I come back home from one of our adventures, I can’t get over how thankful I am to be part of this group. Starting this group was a bit of a crazy “what-if??” idea, but usually those ideas are the best kind. If you have something burning in your belly and you’re itching to do it, just go for it and see what happens. Other women might be waiting for someone to start something, just like the thing you’re dreaming about. Someone has to lead and what I love the most is that leaders don’t need to have it all together. I’m NOT an expert hiker! What I am is an “idea person”. I’m a dreamer and I like to take people along on my dreams because I believe we’re better together. I love seeing women get out of their homes and remember who they were before the fog settled over their lives. I love the thrill you get after a good challenge and I love conquering hard things with other people. I’m not even the most “in shape” in our group, but in our group, we don’t care. We’re all out there to have fun and cheer each other on…that’s the beauty of it.
So, here are a few questions you all asked. I’m naming this PART ONE of How to Create a Ladies Hiking Group, because I’d love for this to be an ongoing discussion. I doubt I’ll cover everything today so feel free to ask away and I’ll write another post soon.
Question: How do you decide where to go?
Our hiking group is set up as a private Facebook group and we create events within that page. My sister and I plan the hikes and together decide where to go. I have a Pinterest Page I save interesting hikes on and we also love the Washington Trail Association page. We search for fun hike ideas and then try to choose something that isn’t too far away (within 2 hours of a drive each way -usually less).
Question: Do you always stick within a certain mile range?
When we pick our hikes, we’ll go for a shorter one, like 3 or 4 miles, if there’s a large elevation gain, but if the elevation gain is less, we’ll choose a longer one, like 8 or 9 miles. We aim to be out hiking for usually 3 or 4 hours. Sometimes we’re out longer and sometimes less. One of the tricky things about hiking is that you can’t tell the members of your group exactly how long the hike will take. It always depends on how many breathing breaks you take, how long you stop for lunch etc. We try to give a rough estimate, but that’s the best we can do.
Question: What if one person is much slower than the others?
So far, we haven’t really had to deal with this! When we create the event for our hike in Facebook, we share how long the hike is and what the elevation gain will be. So far, everyone has known their limits well and come to hikes that fit their fitness level well! Of course, some of us need more breathing breaks than others and we take the time to rest when we need to. We always stress that we’re out there to have fun, not be the fastest.
Question: Do you carpool?
Yep! We meet up and then carpool. We usually give whoever is driving a few dollars for gas money and many different ladies take turns driving.
Question: What about childcare?
This is where Dads/Grandmas/good friends come into the picture. We are a kid-free group, unless a Mom wants to wear her baby. I could NOT do this without my supportive husband and also, I could not do this, if I still had a tiny baby who depended on me to nurse every few hours. If you’re in that stage of life, where you have a little one that needs you, remember that time will pass and you’ll have freedom again. My husband knows how much I need time away to thrive as a person so, he supports me in this. Some women have Grandma watch the kids or they have a good friend keep their kids while they’re gone.
Question: Nursing Moms?
Most of the women who come with us are no longer nursing, or they are pumping and their baby can do fine without them for a few hours. We’ve never had a Mom bring her baby with her, but that might happen in the future, you never know!
Question: You mentioned your group has 151 members! Do you all hike at once?
Ha! No way! Can you imagine? Other hikers on the trail would hate us! Each hike usually has between 4-11 women that can make it. Life is busy and some gals are only able to come once every 6 months or so, and others are able to come more often.
My best advice for your hiking group is to not be discouraged if only 1 or 2 people come at first. Go out and have fun–you are not in this for the numbers! Keep it positive, take pictures, bring champagne for the top if that’s your thing, climb trees and stop taking yourself so seriously! All the girls in our group are optimistic and fun to be around. Don’t put pressure on yourself to make sure each person has an amazing time….just be an example. Be friendly. Smile. Be encouraging and have fun!
Do you have any other questions? Leave them in the comments below and I’ll write Part 2 soon.
Lots of love!