I started the Women's Hiking Crew 3 years ago out of desperation. I was unhealthy, depressed, and barely hanging on. I was overweight by at least 85 lbs, and my health issues have worsened since 2016. On Christmas Day 2018, our plans for the day changed. Typically, we would enjoy unwrapping gifts in the morning then head to my parents for Christmas lunch. Due to a schedule conflict with my sister, we decided to move our get-together to dinner. That left the entire day wide open! Out of nowhere, I told my family to grab a bag, snacks, water and throw on some comfortable clothing. They had no idea where we were heading, and honestly, they were a tad bit shocked. I'm not a spontaneous person.
It was a beautiful sunny 65-degree day, and we couldn't waste it sitting inside being lazy. Again, something I'm never opposed to, but not this time!
After a 30-minute drive, we found ourselves at Martin Nature Park in Oklahoma City. It's a short trail but very peaceful despite being near the turnpike. On most days, you can see deer and a wide variety of birds in the pond. There is also a playground at the entrance, and while it is meant for the children, we adults had no issues playing on the equipment.
After our hike, I felt rejuvenated—almost a feeling of freedom from what I was battling. I could breathe, my legs felt great, and my heart and soul were beyond full. How could I have gone my entire life not knowing this feeling? We finished the day with lots of laughter, and for me, I spent the day with a sense of purpose. I knew I couldn't be the only one out there that could benefit from this wonderful feeling of accomplishment and joy. After our Christmas dinner, I got to work. I created our Facebook page, developed a website, and invited my friends to join. I visited other hiking Facebook groups and was surprised at the number of people who knew about this fantastic sport and all the things I still needed to learn. That inspired me to start the events, get others to enjoy the outdoors, and be with like-minded women.
On December 30, 2018, I created my first in-person hike. There were ten people, and a few of them were children. We trekked 7 miles at Lake Thunderbird, located a few miles east of Norman, OK, in the cold. I started with a pair of $10 shoes from Dollar General and a hand-me-down backpack. I felt exhausted by the end of the hike (mind you, I was a "couch potato"). While standing at the end of the trail, I felt it again! I had accomplished something! The feeling of joy and peace consumed me, and I couldn't get the smile off my face. I knew at that moment; this was going to be big! I was going to spread the word like a wildfire and pull in as many willing women as possible so they could experience this too.
Nothing fills my heart more than my family and sharing my life with women who inspire and encourage me daily. I see your posts and watch your adventures. I've watched some of you, just like me, start with zero knowledge to become expert hikers. It is confirmation that what I did and have done over the last three years was meant to be. And I will continue to do what I can to bring the outdoors to everyone. Sure, some of you will outgrow our group, which is okay. Your goals and accomplishments inspire me and others to keep pushing and proving that we can do some amazing things. This group and the mission behind it saved my life.
I want to encourage all of you to take the next step. If you haven't ventured out yet, I promise you will have a supportive group to help you. You don't need to take a class or read a book to feel confident. You will learn more by doing. There are no stupid questions, and no one will judge you for not having proper clothing, shoes, or gear. We all had to start somewhere. And if you're out of shape, no worries. Take it slow and build up your endurance and confidence. We aren't here to climb the highest peak but rather show you it's okay to hike a mile or two. We have women of all skill levels, and I guarantee you, you're not alone. Feel free to reach out to me personally if you have questions. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Let's do this!