As I laid in bed last night, I thought back to just about 4 years ago, when I stood in my kitchen with my sister discussing the postpartum anxiety I was dealing with and what I wanted to do about it. Why in that moment did I tell her I wanted to start doing challenging things outside with friends? Why was that my solution and how, as a 29 year old with 3 tiny kids, did I know it might really help? How was it that my sister, also a mom with 3 little ones, agreed to such a thing and how is it, that we actually followed through with the idea? Well, all I know is I’m SO GLAD WE DID. I can not even imagine if we had not.
If we wouldn’t have formed our ladies hiking group, I would’ve never met some of the most incredible women that are now treasured friends. I wouldn’t of been able to experience the rewarding feeling of my body becoming stronger and my endurance growing. There’s so much I wouldn’t of learned and hundreds of awesome moments I would’ve missed. Conversations, mountain-top meals, floats on alpine lakes….and for me, one of the most rewarding things: seeing other women get on the trails and start to believe that THEY CAN DO THIS.
Because hiking with friends is something I so protectively treasure, I’m very excited to share the 10,000 Women on the Trail Project with ya’ll today. EVERY woman who desires to get outside more, should be able to. With this project, it’s never been easier. Sign up (for free), and find a hike near you!
Today is a great day to start spending more time outside. Don’t let your physical, mental or environmental limits hold you back. There will be rain. You might be nervous. You might sweat. But just imagine what you could miss if you don’t?
About the 10,000 Women Trail Project, as told by Shanti Hodges:
As a busy woman running around, often feeling like a big hot mess, I find that I never really realize the influence I have on my friends around me to get outside. As I sit at my desk, run after my 4-year-old or try to keep my house organized while running an ever growing non-profit, all I can think is: When will I get out hiking again?
And then it happens. That magical day comes when a window of opportunity opens and I can head to the trail. Those first few moments when I get in the groove (it might be as soon as I step on trail or 10 minutes later into the hike) are always so magical. Everything slows down, the air becomes clearer, the various noises in my ears start separating out. I might hear a plane passing over and then a bird chirping and the crunch of my feet on some gravel then softening to dirt. I walk across a bridge and the river sings to me and I feel so free.
Every time I get back from a hike, I want to bottle that feeling and share it with all of my friends, mama or not. I want every woman to experience the freeing feeling that comes with hiking. The magic of the forest, the presence of my breath as my chest lifts and falls, the slight burn in my legs as I head uphill and then down again. It’s magical and, for me, there’s nothing else like getting out deep into the forest, even if it’s just for a brief moment in time.
This desire to get more women on trail is where the idea for 10,000 Women Trail Project came from. When a few of us at Hike it Baby got to talking about how so many of us don’t realize the impact we have on the women around us getting outside, we recognized that it was time to help show women their sphere of influence.
I am probably one of the more extreme examples of this. When I started Hike it Baby, it was just because I wanted friends to hike with. While I knew I could hike alone, I also knew I didn’t want to. It was more fun when I shared the experience and explored with a friend. I also knew I was more likely to get my butt out the door and try out a new trail if I had someone counting on me to show up.
The 10,000 Women Trail Project is an opportunity for each of us to see our sphere of influence right around us and how, when we hike and invite a friend, it gets all of us outside. Through an amazing grant from REI #ForceOfNature, we have created tools on www.10kwomentrailproject.org to help all women, mama or not, get outside and log those hikes and count up the friends you bring along. Over the year, you will get to see not only how you influence and inspire women around you, but how you can collectively get so many more women in our communities nationwide hiking if we each just invite one friend every time we head out.
So whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, a hardcore hiker or a beginner who doesn’t own hiking shoes, this is a project for you. Every woman and girl is invited to participate and get on trail with us.
The Project is simple: Plan a hike or two every month and invite a friend or a crew to join you. Record that hike and how many women joined you. If you join someone else’s hike, they may be claiming you, so you can bring another friend along and be an influencer as well.
Anyone can register for the Project, whether they are part of Hike it Baby or not. You simply go to 10KWomenTrailProject.org and sign up. Once you log hikes, you get entered every month to win cool prizes just for getting out hiking. It’s that easy! Think about friends you can invite to register and get hiking. The project begins November 1, 2017, and will go through September 1, 2018.
-Shanti Hodges, Hike it Baby President and founder