I recently came across Out There Adventures and Elyse Rylander through the article published in Outside magazine a couple of weeks ago. I was so excited to learn that this company existed I contacted Elyse through the Out There Adventures website and asked if I could interview and share her story with our DNK Presents community. Being a lesbian owned adventure company in the midwest Kate and I love that Elyse’s business focuses on empowering LGBTQ youth through the great outdoors. Elyse also started the first LGBTQ Outdoor Adventure Summit, what is this you ask, you’ll have to read and find out! I hope you enjoy this interview and learning more about Elyse and her business.
- What benefits did the outdoors have on your life as you were growing up in the midwest and discovering your sexual identity?
The outdoors saved me. I was incredibly fortunate to have parents who placed emphasis on connecting with nature and spending time outside. From my first canoe trip down the Wisconsin River at four weeks old to family camping trips to weekends at the ski hill just north of our house, time outside instilled in me a deep connection to myself, my family and my place in the grander scheme of things.
This was furthered by my summers spent as a canoe and kayak instructor at Rutabaga Paddlesports Shop in Madison in high school and college. Rutabaga served as the launching point for my career in the outdoor industry, and also connected me to a number of women who have profoundly changed my life, including Mo Kappes who was my boss at Rutabaga and also at Adventure Learning Programs at the University of Wisconsin. I met Mo right as I began exploring my queer identity and she was the first openly gay woman I had the opportunity to regularly interact with. Mo became a mentor of mine (still is) and is the Chair of my Board of Directors.
As I have gotten older I return to wild places to find solace and to re-center myself. It is the one place in which I am able to be myself wholly and be freed of socialized constraints.
- What inspired you to take the big plunge to start your own outdoor LGBTQ business?
I always joke that I would up on this path as the result of a mix of youthful enthusiasm and ego, and if I’m honest a bit of naiveté of what it would actually entail to grow a non-profit…
But at its core I just wanted a place for other queer young people to be able to have access to the same opportunities to cultivate community and connection that I was given. I am not much of a believer in meritocracy and instead believe that privilege and opportunity are products of luck. We are lucky to be born of a particular race, class, region, etc. which breeds opportunity, and even down to our genetic makeup we are nothing but a roll of the die. From this perspective I believe deeply that when you are lucky enough to be given the tools to succeed it is imperative to take that luck and those privileges and create opportunities that share your luck and success with others.
So, my motivation has always been centered on the desire to create more opportunities for the next generation of queer individuals to connect with new experiences, create community and most importantly deepen their sense of self.
- What has been the biggest surprise as you have grown your business?
I am not a patient person, so those who know me would not be surprised to hear me say that the slow growth has been the biggest surprise, and also biggest frustration. I very much thought if we built it they would come in mass, but that has not at all been the case. I knew we’d experience certain outreach barriers, but seven years ago I did not fully understand the depth and breadth of these issues.
As a result, everything I have done since OTA’s inception has been an outreach mechanism. From the expansion of our programming regions to program partnerships to launching LGBTQ adult programs to organizing the LGBTQ Outdoor Summit, it has all been focused on trying to increase the number of conduits in to the industry and to these outdoor recreation and conservation opportunities for queer young people.
- Could you share a story of a participant of Out There Adventures and how the experience changed their life?
Over my years in the industry I have thus far amassed something like 100 field weeks and worked with thousands of people from an immense array of ages, backgrounds and abilities. So, after extensive research I have concluded that queer young people are the most fantastic demographic to work with. I have never seen with such consistency a group that is SO kind, compassionate, understanding and caring. It has been a privilege to work with every queer young person that has come through our program, and over the years I have had the ability to work closely with one of our program participants in particular.
Zander McRae came on OTA’s first ever expedition in 2015. We spent eight days sea kayaking and camping in the Central Salish Sea when Zander was 17. Because it was a small group we were able to do a lot of one-on-one connecting with the participants. After the trip he remained enthusiastically engaged in our programs and last summer we teamed up with NOLS to get Zander to Australia for a three week sea kayaking course (his first time traveling abroad as well).
The trip helped Zander find the confidence to re-route his life plan and he is now embarking on the path to become an outdoor educator and will be beginning a semester outdoor educator course with Outward Bound this fall.
- What is your favorite trip to guide and why?
I am a paddler through and through, so any trip on the water is preferred over land-based trips. My favorite OTA trips to instruct are our 5-8 day San Juan Islands sea kayaking trips. My favorite trips ever guided are multi-day sea kayaking trips in the Prince William Sound of AK.
- If you could go on your own adventure anywhere, where would it be?
New Zealand, hands down. I’ve heard the Milford Sound is very similar to the Price William Sound, and I figure I need to interrogate this notion for myself.
- What is next for Out There Adventures?
Oofta! That’s a big question! So much is next for OTA. We’re expanding our program operating areas and hope to be across the country by 2020. We’re growing our adult programs and our program partnerships to offer more and more ways to get OUT there, and eventually I’d love to be able to bring a seasonal offering to Alaska since a part of my heart will always be there.
- Tell us more about starting the LGBTQ Outdoor Summit.
Turns out that like starting a non-profit launching a conference is pretty darn exhausting, but also immensely exhilarating!
The idea for the LGBTQ Outdoor Summit came from attending and supporting other identity-specific events in 2017 such as the Women’s Outdoor Summit for Empowerment and PGM ONE. It made a lot of sense to offer a space focused on the issues more specific to queer identities as it relates to outdoor recreation and conservation.
The result wound up as nothing sort of astonishing. We would have been happy with 40 people and a few sponsors. Instead we had to firmly cut off registration at 140 and worked with over a dozen sponsors including The North Face, The Wilderness Society and the National Park Service.
Since the event it has been most exciting to hear about the connections and partnerships that have been made as a result. I’m very much looking forward to offering this space again this year, and also to be able to expand our offerings as we continue to strive to meet the diverse array of interests and needs of the queer community.
I’m also excited to see the ways in which it is helping to change the industry. It’s hard to ignore hundreds of folks coming together around this idea of queer outdoor equity, and we need to keep pushing the industry until they become far better at representation and engagement of this demographic.
Elyse (she/her) has worn many hats in the outdoor industry and education worlds. Since 2006 she has taken thousands of youth and adults on outdoor adventures all over North America, and during these adventures the interrogation of equity, access and privilege played a central role. In 2011 Elyse began her journey as founder of OUT There Adventures, a 501(c)3 dedicated to further bridging the gap between the LGBTQ community and the natural world. Along this path, Elyse has worked tirelessly to reduce outdoor access barriers for all members of the LGBTQ community. This has resulted in dozens of publications, presentations, interviews, trainings and program partnerships aimed at increasing queer visibility and further complicating the narrative of who goes outside and how. Elyse’s work has appeared in places such as the Rutledge International Handbook of Outdoor Studies, in print and person at industry events such as Outdoor Retailer, and in March of 2018 Elyse was named a “Top Woman in Conservation and Environmental Justice” by ECODiversity Magazine. Elyse is also the co-organizer of the annual LGBTQ Outdoor Summit. Outside of her work, Elyse is known for her sense of humor best conveyed through perfectly timed message GIFs, and in her [rare] free time she can be found paddling through the central Salish Sea.
From A Campside Sessions Participant…
“I am generally an outdoorsy person; the military has exposed me to many things like rappelling, survival skills, navigating, etc, and I feel confident in my skills. Despite this, there has been one thing I’ve been wanting to do for a while that I haven’t quite gotten up the courage for yet: a solo backpacking trip. I’ve had plenty of hesitations about this idea for a long time now, but when I think about it, every single one of the excuses I come up with can be overcome easily. The main thing holding me back has been fear, and watching the film (Live Adventurously) you made about your first adventure weekend for the four women, I was truly motivated to conquer that and try this thing that I’ve never done before, for the first time. I just really felt that you needed to know about the impact you had on me, since you were talking about wanting to expand your impact outside of Indiana- you already have! Additionally, the film was beautifully done and really portrayed the magnificence of each of the women; I can’t wait to see what you guys do next.
Working with the two of you (Danielle and Kate) Erin, Charlotte and Jenny was truly phenomenal. Each of you have such a presence. You are warm, encouraging, funny and solid leaders. Again, not only was I able to learn so much about mountain biking, but it was just so renewing to meet so many rad women doing really cool shit. Working with men all day, every day, can make you forget all of the powerful qualities that women bring to the table, and I am so endlessly grateful that I was able to witness all of them this weekend. Thank you so much for all you are doing.”
-Emily Wren Campside Sessions Mountain Bike Participant
Emily’s words truly moved Kate and I and we wanted to share what she wrote to us with all of you. Kate and I love what we do and we are truly grateful for all the adventures we get to guide, people we get to meet, and the beautiful places we get to travel to. Being an entrepreneur is hard, being a woman LGBT owned business, and starting an adventure company in Indiana (something that’s never been done before) is even harder.
I read an email from a fellow woman co-founder this week, Jen Gurecki of Coalition Snow, about her struggles as a woman founder. I completely related, and while I would love to stay it’s all fun and sunshine, it’s not, just like on an adventure some days things just don’t go right, the wind changes the weather picks up and it rains…hard and it doesn’t seem like it’s ever going to stop, you trudge through, carry on, and slowly the sun begins to peak through the trees. It’s on these trips or during these times of the week when things just don’t seem to work, we are tired, the to do list is never ending; but then the next day the sun comes out, we get an email from a participant saying that their experience with us changed their lives like the one from Emily above, we keep going, we keep moving, and we won’t ever stop.
That is the only reason why DNK Presents is still here – because of YOU. We have fallen, we have made mistakes, we have had set backs but that is when we get stronger, we rise up and we will never ever ever give up.
We hope you don’t either.
When you come on an adventure with us it will challenge you, it may be hard at times, it might even rain, but it also might just change your life. We hope that you leave feeling inspired, ignited and empowered to take on the world – however that looks for you.
Keep on adventuring,
Danielle & Kate
Danielle Wolter Nolan FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Outdoor adventure company, DNK Presents announces their 2018 Indiana Women’s Adventure Contest winners, Myra Ansley, Emily Faurote, Mindy Weaver-Flask, and Rose Tillison. These four women were selected from numerous nominations from across the state of Indiana to win a customized free four-day exclusive backcountry adventure. Founders of DNK Presents, Danielle and Kate Nolan will guide the adventure, taking place May 17-20, 2018 in Indiana. The four contest winners will disconnect from technology, live off the grid, and challenge themselves with new outdoor activities. In addition, a select team of inspiring, leading outdoor women will join the adventure trip as guest facilitators.
“We are beyond excited for our 4 contest winners this year and can’t wait to hit the trails with the ladies this May,” remarks Kate Nolan.
Danielle Wolter Nolan exclaims, “The Women’s Adventure Contest is one of our favorite events; it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for women to be completely unplugged, try something new, meet other inspiring women, empower themselves, and build confidence through the great outdoors.”
The DNK Presents’ Women’s Adventure Contest is supported by national and local sponsors including, Rusted Moon Outfitters, KEEN, The Bike Line, Trek Bicycle, ENO Hammocks, Alps Mountaineering, Shredly, Bitchstix, Big Woods Brewery, Oakley, Skinny and Company, E.A.T., Central Restaurant Products, Enviro-Max, and more!
DNK Presents organizes and guides empowering adventure experiences for individuals, groups and businesses. They focus on getting people to step outside their comfort zones, trying something for the first time and gain confidence through experiential learning. Their adventures include mountain biking, backpacking, rock climbing and yoga retreats in and outside of Indiana.
DNK Presents produced and directed the award-winning film, “Live Adventurously” (www.liveadventurouslyfilm.com
The Venture Out Project
The biggest surprise to me was how many folks have come on more than one trip. When I founded Venture Out I thought it’d be the kind of thing where people came on one trip, learned some skills and then went to backpack on their own. But what I found was that for so many folks, Venture Out was their only trans or queer community. In many cases our participants may have had friends online, but many had never hung out with, or even met, another trans person. People come back for a second, third, fourth or even fifth trip because they know that’ll it’ll be an opportunity not just to be outside, but to make friends and find community.
I found out about TVOP in 2015 when a friend posted something about it on my Facebook wall. Like “Hey look at what these queers in New England are doing”. I’m originally from New England, but was/still am living in Portland, OR. I immediately contacted Perry, the founder of TVOP, and asked I could lead a trip for him. We agreed on a week long backpacking trip that summer on The Long Trail in Vermont. There were three guides and two participants!
Six months later, he hired me on as his Office Manager and now I’m the Director of Operations. We also now fill our trips to capacity (and even have wait lists!)
Guide to winter camping
by: Scott Jackson
As the weather begins to turn and many peoples thoughts turn to Christmas and the warmth of an open hearth, for some people with a sense of adventure the worsening weather isn’t an excuse to forgo the outdoors. As the Scandinavians say “Ikke dårlige vær, bare dårlige klær”, which translates as “There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing”. So don’t make the weather an excuse. With the correct preparations, skills, and gear you can have just as much fun camping during the winter.
Planning to go camping in winter takes more skills and gear than your typical summer frolic in the woods. As such, your prep should be above and beyond to help ensure you have a safe and fun trip. It is a great idea to invite some companions, especially ones who have experience or specific cold weather skill sets, e.g., avalanche training, building snow shelters, etc.
Many preparation elements are similar to those you would do for a summer hike, such as route planning, leaving a trip plan with someone or checking the weather conditions. However, as the margins for error are so much smaller in more miserable weather, you should pay extra attention and go over your plans with your whole group two, three (or more) times to ensure everyone is on the same page.
Also, being able to recognize and avoid avalanche areas is a crucial skill, and we would highly recommend that your whole group receives training if you will be at or near any slopes greater than 20 degrees inclination. Indeed, taking a cold weather hiking or camping course may be beneficial in any event.
The first rule of winter hiking and camping is to stay dry and warm, so choose appropriate clothing that’ll insulate you, wicks moisture, dries quickly, is waterproof and breathable.
It is commonly acknowledged that you should be wearing three layers; base layer(s)* next to your skin that will keep you warm and wick sweat away from your body, middle layer which will act as insulation such a fleece shirt or jacket, and finally your outer layer which should be waterproof/windproof and breathable, so you should be thinking about a good jacket.
* in especially cold weather, consider wearing two base layers.
When considering your “big 4” items (Bag, Shelter, Sleeping Bag & Pad), you should look at whether your bag, pad, and tent are appropriate for the weather conditions and upgrade if necessary. You may also need to bring a larger bag than you usually would when you consider the extra gear you will need to bring.
A cold weather sleeping bag is more heavy duty than your summer one, and is often filled with down, has additional features like a hood and draught collars. You should select a bag that is rated for temperatures about 10 degrees F colder than what you expect on the trip. As most heat is lost to the ground when you sleep, be sure to bring two sleeping pads with high R-ratings (R-Ratings are how insulated the pad is). A common hack is to place a closed-cell foam pad on the ground and layer a self-inflating pad on top for maximum insulation
Look around for a sturdy 4-season tent – these are designed with sturdier poles that can support more weight (should you get a substantial dump of snow overnight), and are often double layered to provide extra insulation and reduce condensation.
At the camp
Choosing a site & Setting Up
As you reach your appointed campsite area, make sure you have set out early enough to get there with plenty of daylight left to set up. When choosing an exact campsite location remember the following:
- do not set up on any ridges or other places exposed to high winds
- do not set up directly under trees as branches can break
- do not set up camp if there is a risk of avalanches
Once you have picked a spot, spend some time packing down the snow around your pitch areas. If you can, give it 30 mins or so to settle before beginning to pitch your tents. When pitching your tent make sure to set up the entrance, so it is at 90 degrees to any prevailing winds. Rather than using tent stakes, bring plastic shopping bags, loop the guys through the handles, fill with snow and bury them so only the tops of the handles are visible.
If it is going to be especially cold night, then build either a snow wall to protect your tent from the wind or pack up snow on your shelter from the base up – make sure you have someone on the inside pushing back against the snow, so it holds up. Once it has set this will provide extra insulation than just your tent alone.
Finally, dig out a pit under your porch (about 3 feet), so that you can sit down to comfortably take off your boots before entering the tent, plus it generates more space to hold the rest of your equipment.
If you are planning on camping in the same spot for several days or more, consider packing down and digging out trenches to create a table and benches set up to enjoy your meals. If you are just overnighting this probably isn’t worth it, but in either case, it is worthwhile bringing a smaller tent or tarp to give yourself some shelter to cook if the weather turns foul.
At cold temperatures, Liquid-Fuel stoves will perform better than canister stoves, and it is worth bringing a second stove as a contingency just in case the first one fails. Also, remember to bring extra fuel – cold weather reduces the efficiency of all stoves so you will go through more, faster.
One benefit of cold weather camping is the ability to bring boil in the bag meals which tend to be a bit more flavorful than your typical dehydrated meals. Thanks to cold weather these will be kept refrigerated (or frozen) during your trip.
Lastly, a few words when it comes to water on your trip. The first being, DO NOT eat snow! It takes a considerable amount of calories for your body to convert ice to water that it can use, and additionally snow and ice can be full of bacteria and microbes. Always, boil the snow first to kill off any bugs and to prevent yourself from expending energy.
When storing water, it is best to use wide-mouthed plastic containers so you can simply pour your hot (boiled) water into them, then flip them upside down and store them in insulated pockets. Flipping them upside down prevents the lid/drinking tube from freezing.
My Open Country is a 2 person campaign to try and get more people excited about the outdoors and wilderness. We believe life wasn’t meant to be lived behind a computer screen so we provide as much information as we can into one site, so you can spend less time planning and more time doing.
By: Anne McCarty
This October, 13 women and I decided we were going to heighten the bar of our limitations while doing something we love. Our adventure was in the ever beautiful Morgan-Monroe State Forest (http://www.in.gov/dnr/forestry/4816.htm) just outside of Martinsville, Indiana and began in the Low Gap Trail Parking Lot and ended at the Fox Den Shelter at the end of the Tecumseh Trail. We set out on a trip that pushed us physically but relieved us mentally of our day-to-day stress.
Teamwork makes the Dream Work
Some of the group were veterans to backpacking while others, including myself, had not been on a trip this rigorous in a while or ever. Even so, everyone motivated and helped each other out when someone was struggling or couldn’t figure something out. At the beginning, most of us were strangers to each other coming from very different backgrounds and even different states, but by the end we were a dynamic and supportive (and also an exhausted) group of individuals ready to take on the world. This adventure was the epitome of having fun while learning especially since we were all wanting to learn for ourselves. For two days we learned about water filtration, leaving no trace behind, the basics of camping, trail reading, how to rehydrate/cook dehydrated food and most importantly about our mutual passion for the outdoors.
Disconnect to Reconnect
Going to the backcountry and not having cell service can be a bit daunting but we took every precaution by bringing first aid kits, having emergency contacts, letting the folks at DNR (MorganSF@dnr.IN.gov) know where we would be going and how many of us there were, and staying on the trail. Ultimately the benefits of not being able to check social media or email showed, in joking around, sharing advice to a fellow outdoorswoman, talking about goals and plans in life, the list goes on. Beyond that, you really tune into your mind and body which made conquering this 18-mile hike with 35 pounds on your back more than manageable.
Changed for the Better
A lot can happen in two days, and I think I can say for most of the ladies, their goals for going on this adventure with DNK Presents were met. I personally exceeded my own expectations having past injuries, and I couldn’t be prouder. I learned that you don’t need half of what you think you do; to bring a long flowy skirt and baggy shirt for the drive home; to be prepared for allergies you didn’t think you had to show up; always have some sort of measuring tool, to bring at least two large water bottles; that the word “bladder” is used frequently in the backpacking world and you can go further than you think you can.
We came. We learned. We conquered this adventure.
Check out the video summary of our wild wilderness adventure below, hope you can join us on adventures in 2018!
Just a few ways to maximize space!
By Anne McCarty
Packing before a trip is probably the most crucial thing to do before setting out. It is a chance to check and recheck that you have everything you need and take out the things you don’t need. The phrase many stand by is “Bring what you think you’ll need, then take out half of it.” So to help you out a little bit, this time on camping hacks we’ll give you a few ways to make sure your pack doesn’t weigh you down!
The Great Towel Debate
One thing people debate about bringing is a towel and the primary con is that it takes up too much space. The solution? Pack a shammy towel! It’s a thin towel used primarily by swimmers and divers. It is lightweight and super absorbent!
Don’t Tear Up About Tears
What happens if you have an unexpected tear or leak mid way through your trip? Say hello to Duct Tape, your new best friend. We get it, a new package is pretty big and clunky and bringing it all seems daunting. Well, you don’t have to! Wrap some around your water bottle or cup so it’s on hand and ready for anything!
Backpackers and campers alike usually pack dehydrated food because it’s lightweight and can turn into a full meal with just water. One of the not as famous choices are the dehydrated eggs. If you are one of the people looking for an alternative we have something for you! Try putting cracked eggs into a water bottle. One bottle can hold eight eggs!
Don’t let the Metal Weigh you Down
If you’re worried about space and weight of metal cups or cutlery? Look into using compatible/unbreakable one because they work well and as it turns out are easier to clean!
If you have the space and you’re celebrating anything from a birthday to just a great day outdoors, try this dessert treat!: Marshmallows toasted then dipped in Bailey’s* (<3)
Interested in keeping up with DNK Presents?
Here’s a link to our blog page:
By: Anne McCarty
Here at DNK Presents we are all about helping people discover themselves through adventure whether they are dogs trying new tricks or sticking to what they know. This blog series will be dedicated to bringing together campers far and wide to make sure they are safe and knowledgeable about camping!
Let it be light!
No lantern but need more light? No problem. Strap a headlamp to a water bottle or jug. If you don’t have a headlamp a phone’s flashlight set up under the bottle works just as well!
Photo from Pinterest
Green with envy or red from Ivy?
It is recommended that you familiarize yourself with dangerous or irksome plants like Poison Ivy! Here is a helpful link for your convenience: https://www.thespruce.com/pictures-of-poisonous-plants-2132624
Sticks and Stones
Camping and other outdoor activities can be dangerous so being prepared with a mini first aid kit is the way to go!
Photo from Pinterest
Getting cold feet about camping?
A lot of times people worry about camping in cold weather so if this is something that worries you, have no fear! Something that is important is to take your shoes off when you get into your sleeping bag because it restricts the heat from your feet. Two options to keep your toes warm are bringing a heated water pack/bottle and if that’s not an option use what you have: your clothes! Stuffing your clothes by your feet will help keep your feet toasty!
Stay tuned for next week’s edition of Camping Hacks: Packing Hacks. Stay up to date on our trips coming up on our Adventures page. Don’t see something that fits with your schedule? Contact us for a private customized adventure for you and your friends.
Is there something you would like to see on our Camping Hacks series? Reply in the comments or email us at email@example.com, happy trails!
Ever wanted to learn how to rock climb but didn’t want to go as a beginner or alone? Our developmental program meets every Wednesday from 7 to 9 PM from October 11th until November 11th. On November 10th-11th the program will take a weekend trip to Red River Gorge to climb outdoors. The facility we will meet at is EPIC Climbing Gym (1931 Stout Field W Dr. INDPLS, IN 46241). EPIC Climbing Gym is an indoor facility where everyone in the program will be taught safety and technique when it comes to indoor rock climbing. Experts will be teaching a 2 hour instructional class a week, a month of unlimited practice time and a weekend trip to the Red River Gorge for outdoor climbing. Take your skills to the test with the last class being an outdoor trip to the Red River Gorge in Kentucky! You’ll leave the class confident and with your own gear to take on your next climbing adventure! If you are an EPIC Members the cost is $350 per person* ($25 off if you already have gear) and if you are a non-EPIC Member the price is $375 ($25 off if you already have gear).
Our program at DNK Presents is the ONLY Indoor to Outdoor Rock Climbing Program in Indiana and this is our last program of 2017!
Go to the link to learn more and sign-up!
*Must be a member at EPIC for a least a month prior to the Indoor to Outdoor class to obtain the discount.
>>>DNK Presents are certified Lead Climbers, Wilderness First Aid and CPR, and are in the American Mountain Guide Single Pitch Instructors Apprenticeship program. We will provide climbing instruction and belay for the group for the Red River Gorge Trip.<<<
By: Kati L Taylor
In mid-August, a fun and diverse group went on the DNK Presents Wild Women’s Backpacking Overnight Adventure here in the beautiful Midwest. Several of the women had never been backpacking before. While some had been camping or “glamping”, most had not done an overnight trip for a while and it was a new experience for them to carry everything needed on their backs. Perhaps by the end of the trip some were questioning what they really need versus what provides comfort.
This weekend overnight trip gave women an opportunity to hike in the backcountry of both the beautiful Morgan-Monroe State Forest and Yellowwood Forest. The trip was structured and guided by some experienced women backpackers who want to share their love of nature with others. Meals, water filtration, and gear were provided, plus there was the security of knowing that the guides are trained to keep the group safe.
Being a women-only adventure makes these trips special.
Spending time outside, immersed in nature experiencing new things, brings out a different side to thoughts and how women connect with each other. Moreover, when you get a group of women together in the woods overnight, mentalities change, and conversation can be powerful and get intense!
There were two mother-daughter adventurers who got some quality time together. Two of the ladies were connected through a third friend but did not know each other. All three were young mothers. Another bold woman joined the trip solo, not knowing anyone prior to the trip. Regardless of their initial relationship, everyone worked together and became closer over the 24-hour adventure.
Wilderness trips prove to be great bonding opportunities, not only with each other, but ‘getting back to nature’ makes you more aware of yourself. After an energetic hike, several of the women realized an exceptional peacefulness in meditating by Bear Lake which set a more subdued mood for the hike back to the campsite.
No phone, but not alone.
Being in the backcountry means your phone basically does not work. With no reception a phone becomes only useful for the camera function and obviously there is nowhere to charge it. In fact, as the photo/video documentarian on this adventure, I may have been the only backpacker who intentionally left my phone back in the car.
While it’s comical now, at the time, everyone was concerned when the trip guide lost her phone. She was sure it had fallen out of her pocket at night near our campsite while gathering firewood. So the women teamed up to search through the darkness and find it. A persistent gal on the trip politely asked if she could search through the guide’s tent and backpack. Lo and behold, the phone was in her backpack the whole time. What a relief when it was found?!
This trivial happening, while it turned out well, was a great reminder that we need to disconnect. Having a great group of thoughtful, caring women on your team makes connecting easy even without a signal!
Leave no toothpaste… I mean leave no trace!
While trying to hang food in the tree overnight to avoid and racoons or other critters invading it, one of the ladies decided to use her toothpaste as a weight to get the rope over a tree limb. Long story short, it got stuck in the tree. With the intent of always leaving no trace on the trail, the group of women teamed up to get the toothpaste out of the tree. What an adventure it was! For more on this funny happening and to see what the women had to say about the trip overall, watch the video summary of the weekend’s adventures.
Mind the gap.
At the moment when this backpacking adventure had ended and the women were crossing the bridge to get back to their vehicles, a group from the Indiana Forrest Alliance was hiking in. These passionate folks were handing out brochures to raise support and awareness around an important issue in these exact forests where these women had just experienced so much.
Our state has plans to sell logging rights in this area where nearly 300 acres could be affected and thousands of trees could be logged if the deal goes through. This affects everyone and while the terms of the agreement may be vague, preserving our Indiana natural resources is for a greater good.
It’s important to preserve Indiana’s beautiful forests for the health of our planet, the wildlife that lives there, and for ourselves–let everyone forever enjoy the natural beauty! Please consider contacting Governor Holcomb and urge our state to stop logging the forests.
For those who have never been backpacking, or want to experience it again, consider a trip. Indiana has some beautiful outdoor spaces and amazing trails to experience. Disconnect, decompress, experience something new, and enjoy the natural beauty around you.