Fitness: Hit the trail with Hiker Babes
If you’re new to hiking, the whole thing – where to go, what gear you need, how to stay safe – can feel like climbing a mountain before you ever leave home. But Hiker Babes, a community of women who love the outdoors, can help you meet the challenge of completing 100 hikes on your schedule. You might even find new friends along the way.
Hiker Babes is a national organization that now has more than 150 ambassadors across the U.S. Emily Malsam and Nicole Hubbard lead the Upstate chapter, which has grown to include nearly 150 women is just a few months. Joining is free.
“The biggest thing with Hiker Babes is just getting outside,” Malsam said. “You’re going to do 100 hikes – no time frame because it’s not a race.”
Those who participate decide what a hike is for them. There is no pressure, only support.
“It is probably the best medicine for mental health,” Malsam said. “That is the biggest thing, getting people outside and trying to create community.”
Though the group is female only, women can bring their significant others and their children if they want. Malsam leads weekend hikes that are family friendly. She includes her fiancé and the five children in their blended family. They hike together regularly in the Upstate and across the country. Malsam appreciates that women can feel that their safety is paramount, but their family can participate.
“I try to make it as friendly as possible for everybody who shows up,” she said. “The hardest part is getting people brave enough to show up for their first hike. You don’t have to be the fastest. Don’t worry about being the slowest. It’s all about your journey.”
In addition to regular hikes, several times each year the group will do a hike to raise money for a cause or participate in a community event, like cleaning up a trail. Upcoming hikes will stick closer to home during the week and venture to surrounding areas on the weekend.
“We’ve been doing this for years without a group,” Malsam said. “We love to introduce other families to this.”
Malsam has found other benefits as well.
“Our kids will communicate with us much easier if we’re out on the trial,” she said. “We are in such a digital world right now, and it takes them away from all that. The community of families that get outside – it’s a different mindset. It takes you back to a simplistic view.”