Anyone can hike, as Ambassador Courtnee Sinhlapasai discovered in 2016 when she became an ambassador for Mountain Chicks. Here she shares her insight for inspiring yourself and others to hit the trail. All images: Courtnee Sinhlapasai
Imagine yourself, hiking through the forest while birds are chirping and the sun is glistening on the creek nearby. Can’t imagine that?
Four years ago I couldn’t either.
Back then the word ‘hiking’ was foreign to me. Fast-forward to today, and hiking is a part of my everyday vocabulary. Hiking has become a part of me and I am so grateful that I have been able to share my love for the outdoors with others.
In March of 2016, I became an ambassador for Mountain Chicks, an outdoor adventure group for women. Before joining, I had never hosted a hike and thought the most I’d get out of being an ambassador was getting to hike with others. Since being an ambassador, I have grown so much as a person and have hiked all over. However, the most rewarding thing I’ve gained from being an ambassador is being able to get others outside.
If you don’t spend much time outside, it can be overwhelming when figuring out where to go, and the thought of hiking alone or being unprepared can be scary. Let me tell you a secret: you don’t have to be “outdoorsy” to get outside.
Nature doesn’t judge you.
Getting outside can mean a simple walk in the park, a bike ride, or fishing at the river. For me, the outdoors gives me the space to challenge myself, reflect, and think about life. I want to share the outdoors with others to help them see that there are so many benefits to being out in nature. It can help you de-clutter your mind from all the chaos in life.
Don’t know where to start? Here are some tips to help you get started on this new journey.
If you’re looking for a hike, start off with a local trail. You don’t have to drive hours to the mountains to experience nature. Look for what is available in your local park or surrounding areas. When researching a trail, you will need to look at the total distance, location, elevation, terrain, and weather. It’s helpful to look at recent reviews or write-ups of a trail to get an idea of what it will be like on resources like All Trails and Modern Hiker.
2. Find a Friend
It’s always recommended to hike with a friend or with someone else. Don’t have anyone to hike with? I had the same problem, which was when I joined Mountain Chicks. There are many groups such as Mountain Chicks that promote hiking and getting outside. These social groups create events for you that are already planned, led by an experienced hiker and give you a chance to get out of your shell and meet people who are trying to do the same thing as you are.
3. Gear Up
If you’re just starting to get into hiking or just want to get outside, I’d recommend getting some comfortable shoes. Fortunately, Oboz Footwear has some comfortable shoes that can be great for any outdoor adventure. Two of my favorites include the Bridger Mid Boots and the Sawtooth Low shoes. Along with sturdy shoes, I’d recommend a backpack to carry your water, food, and other essentials for your trip.
4. Get Inspired
There are so many resources out there that can inspire you to get outside. Some of my favorites include Instagram, Pinterest, documentaries, REI classes, and books. Through social media you can connect with people who’ve been to places you are interested in exploring, and you can ask them any questions you have before you set out on your own.
5. Try It & Have Fun
You are taking a step forward in the right direction by deciding to do something positive and good for yourself. It may seem scary at first to try something new and make a change in your life, but believe that this is the start of something amazing.
Keep Close to Nature’s Heart
Like John Muir said, “Keep close to Nature’s heart…and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirits clean.”
It only takes one step forward into nature to change your life. You might notice that any stress or anxiety starts to diminish and you start to see the beauty in yourself and your life. Nature does that; it strips you from all your worries and makes you appreciate your surroundings. Life is beautiful and so is the world we live in, so take a deep breath and take a step outside into the wild.
Courtnee is an elementary school teacher who is often seen out adventuring when not in the classroom. She believes in taking the time to make your soul happy and can be seen exploring with her newly adopted rescue dog in the Eastern Sierras. Follow her at @courtadventures