All-female Hikes in the Canadian Rockies
How many times have you wanted to go on an adventure and ended up going solo because you just couldn’t find a buddy to join you? Rather than investing in a four legged pal, AV decided to use Social Media as a tool to connect women in her community who like to get outside. In this feature we learn more about how Hike365 came about and AV’s heart behind it. *Warning*—her photography will have you looking up one way tickets to the Canadian Rockies…
Photos (C) 2015 AV Victoria Wakefield
Meet Community Builder, AV
Why did you found Hike365? And why make it “girls only”?
As an avid hiker I didn’t have a lot of girl friends to explore the outdoors and tackle new adventure challenges with. I was often asked on social media where I was hiking, if I could offer advice, and if I organized hikes for girls to join here in the Canadian Rockies.
I saw the need from my peers for a community of all girls that get together on the trail safely and respectfully, and am working towards building that community through Hike365!
We don’t want pressure, what we want is for girls to be able to bond with fellow female outdoor enthusiasts on the trail about where they want to hike and explore, all while having the support of a community to help them reach their goals in a non-competitive setting.
Are hikers of all skill levels able to join your group?
We encourage hikers of all skill levels to join our community, using our website and social media platforms as a place for inspiration, information, and to meet fellow hikers to hit the trail with.
For our monthly events, we have an online questionnaire for each interested girl to fill in as part of their registration. This questionnaire goes over fitness level encouraged for that particular hike and we also have a few questions regarding previous experience on similar trails so that as a group we are all on the same page.
You’re a photographer with a predilection for color. How does the landscape inspire your choice of hikes?
For myself, I am pretty happy with any hike so long as I get to be outdoors and physically active for an entire day! I research a lot so that we can have a variety of hikes over the course of the year.
One of the best things about the Canadian Rockies is that a breath taking and physically demanding hike doesn’t necessarily have to finish with a summit. An alpine lake, meadows of wildflowers, or a ridgeline are some of my favorite destinations.
I often choose hikes based on the time of year: meadows in the peak of summer for the bounty of colorful wildflowers, alpine lakes and golden larch trees in early autumn, and front range summits in shoulder season to capture the beautiful crisp snow on the peaks and bluebird skies.
What role does social media play in your adventures with Hike365?
Social media plays a key role in building our community here at Hike365. Through the use of platforms like Instagram + Facebook we are able to share our adventures and experiences to thousands of outdoor enthusiasts serving as a source of information as well as inspiration for others!
We have found that girls are more comfortable to sign up for one of our events because our feeds feature the faces and stories of our own community members, so when we arrive at the trailhead the girls are not feeling like they are walking into a group of strangers. Friendships are formed on the trail and then strengthened through the posting of photographs and stories from our day on the trail on various social platforms.
Now, more than ever, it seems that women are embracing the outdoors. Do you think this is a recent change or is there simply a better appreciation for our relationship with nature and each other?
Women have been embracing the outdoors since the beginning of our time here on earth. Perhaps with the increased use of social media for sharing our outdoor experiences it seems that we are embracing more than ever. I do believe that more types of women are embracing the outdoors, and that a deeper appreciation is developing for nature, her work and her benefits. The more we connect with the earth the more we can reap the feel good benefits that come with it and that is something all women should experience.
What’s your favorite Alberta hike?
One of my absolute favorites is a hike and scramble in Banff National Park called Cirque Peak. At the summit it’s of those views where you can’t help but stand in awe at the multitude of peaks for klometer after kilometer. It puts into perspective that even after a lifetime spent hiking in the Canadian Rockies I will have barely scratched the surface of what there is to explore here, and that these wild places need to be preserved and protected for generations to come
Can you recall your first outdoor experience?
Yup, my childhood as a whole! I spent most of my time playing outdoors with my brother at home in rural North Western Ontario, Canada. From sun up to sun down we would trek through the forests and up and over the rolling hills to ponds and streams catching crayfish and tadpoles, coming home at dusk just buzzing after a full day spent outside, anxious for the sun to come back so we could get back out!
Do you have any tips for women looking to find a community? (in the outdoors or otherwise)
Social media is an amazing tool to connect with like-minded women for inspiration and information. Attending free events offered by communities like Hike365 are a great way to build friendships. When I launched Hike365 just over a year ago, I had no idea if girls would be interested in showing up to a trailhead to hike with a group of strangers, but the thing is that by the time we got back from our day on the trail we had started to build a community together. That community has grown over the past year so much that many of our girls are good friends taking on new adventure challenges together on their own! Taking that step to connect in person with other women who have similar interests for an activity of any kind is key, it can be scary to put yourself out there and engage in a community, you’ll be glad you did!