Wilderness Heals

Thank you for visiting the Wilderness Heals blog. Wilderness Heals is an all-women, three-day annual pledge hike that benefits the Elizabeth Stone House (ESH), a Boston-based emergency shelter, transitional housing program, and therapeutic community that provides services to women and children who are escaping violence and overcoming trauma. By encouraging hikers to set challenging physical, emotional, and financial goals, Wilderness Heals mirrors the experiences of hundreds of women who have sought help from the Stone House. Committing to hike is a way to grow personally while simultaneously standing in solidarity with women of the Stone House and women everywhere who are working to overcome the effects of violence in their lives.
Wilderness Heals 2011 will take place July 15-17, 2011. Registration materials may be downloaded here.
Go here to view the 2011 routes, and visit our Who's Who page to meet this year's team leaders and Recruitment Committee members.
Want to learn more? Visit our list of Frequently Asked Questions.
Still have questions? Contact Erika Whyte, Wilderness Heals event coordinator, at 781-726-0551 or ewhyte@elizabethstone.org.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Wilderness Heals Billboard Goes Up in Jamaica Plain

Now that the Hike is only four months away, recruitment for Wilderness Heals 2007 has begun in earnest. You'll be seeing a lot of our logo in the upcoming weeks; look for fliers in gyms, community centers, and on street corners. And if you're in Jamaica Plain--home of the Elizabeth Stone House and many Wilderness Heals hikers--be sure to check out the new billboard, located above the CVS Pharmacy at the intersection of Centre, South Huntington, Moraine, and Boylston Streets.

Meet the Women Behind Wilderness Heals

Wilderness Heals would not be possible without the support of a large community of organizers, volunteers, team leaders--and, of course--you, the hiker! There are, however, a few names that tend to frequently pop up throughout the season. Here's a list to help hikers sort out who’s who.

Administrative Staff

Danielle Piscatelli:
Danielle is the primary contact for the Hike, and she is the only Wilderness Heals affiliate who is actually employed by the Elizabeth Stone House. Danielle schedules and facilitates all hiker meetings, organizes all updates hikers receive through e-mail and postal mail, and keeps track of all sponsorships. Hikers may call her with any questions they have regarding the Stone House, fundraising and donations, and the Hike in general. Danielle has worked at the Stone House for three years, and Wilderness Heals 2007 will be her fourth year organizing the event. In her spare time, Danielle enjoys completing volunteer trailwork throughout the country. E-mail Danielle at dpiscatelli@elizabethstone.org.

Mary Crotty: A freelance public relations consultant, Mary coordinates all Wilderness Heals PR initiatives and facilitates marketing outreaches. She has publicized the Hike for the past three years, and she is truly committed to the Elizabeth Stone House and its cause. In addition to working with the Stone House, Mary teaches at Suffolk University. She enjoys hiking and spending time outdoors with her husband and two young children. E-mail Mary at mary@peaceconsulting.com.

Team Leader Coordinators
Team Leader Coordinators (TLC) work with Danielle to organize Wilderness Heals. Their responsibilities include, but are not limited to: choosing the routes, compiling Hike materials, and overseeing the Team Leaders throughout the training season and during the three-day event.

Katie Kozin: Katie is serving as a TLC for the second year in a row, and this year will be her fourth year participating in the Hike. Two of Katie’s favorite White Mountain hikes are Mt. Madison and Bridal Veil Falls, and her favorite international hiking destination (so far) is a tie between Mt. Kilimanjaro and the Indian Himalaya. E-mail Katie at kkozin@outdoors.org.

Linda Rosen: This is Linda’s second year serving as a TLC and her fifth year participating in the Hike. “Being a part of Wilderness Heals is a great way for me to connect with other women and to contribute to the women and families at the Elizabeth Stone House," Linda says. "As a Mom at home with two young daughters, the Hike provides me with an outlet to achieve something for myself while giving back to others. It also demonstrates to my children how important it is to enjoy the outdoors and to care for others. They are so proud of the work I’ve done with the Stone House, and our family looks forward to our own wilderness adventures every summer!” E-mail Linda at lindarosen@rcn.com.

Team Leaders
Team Leaders lead all training hikes, and each Team Leader is in charge of one team during the three-day Hike. All Team Leaders are experienced hikers and have participated in Wilderness Heals at least once.

Sheryl Barnes: This is Sheryl’s fourth year participating in Wilderness Heals, and her third year as a Team Leader. “My favorite thing about the Hike," Sheryl says, "is that I get to engage in the most mentally, physically, and spiritually perfect exercise, with an amazing bunch of women, in order to provide support to a second group of amazing women. I mean, really, what could be better than that?”

Maia BrodyField: Maia is a Jamaica Plain resident who works in public health. Her first Wilderness Heals Hike was only her second hike during adulthood because, at age twelve, she'd convinced herself that it was the hiking part of "boring family hiking trips" that she didn’t enjoy. This year marks Maia's sixth year participating in the event, and her fourth year as a Team Leader. Maia has also served on the Recruitment Committee for two years.

Becky Fullerton: Becky is the librarian and archivist at the Appalachian Mountain Club. This will be her second year participating in Wilderness Heals, and her first time serving as a Team Leader. Becky has hiked all of her life; her parents carried her up the mountains of Vermont in a backpack before she learned to walk. Becky's favorite hiking snacks are chocolate and bread with brie, which she can easily be persuaded to share.

Susan Genatossio: This is Susan’s fourth year participating in the Hike, and her third year serving as a Team Leader. “The mountains have always been a place for me to renew and recharge my spirit," she says. "Wilderness Heals has given me the opportunity to share that renewal with old and new women friends, to rejoice in their companionship, to marvel at their beautiful differences, and to be awed by the revelation of their inner strength and power.”

Beth Grierson: Since Beth’s first Wilderness Heals Hike nine years ago, she has been a hiker, a Team Leader, and a Team Leader Coordinator. “My favorite hike is anything that gives me an opportunity to soak my head,” she says. Beth has also served on the Recruitment Committee for the past two years.

Jenn Guiry: This will be Jenn's second Wilderness Heals Hike, and her first year serving as a Team Leader. When an injury prevented her from hiking last year, Jenn managed Base Camp during the three-day event. Jenn's most memorable Wilderness Heals experience was a training hike over Mounts Lincoln and Lafayette. "It was my third time hiking since losing a lot of weight, and my confidence was still back with my larger and heavier self," she says. "As I came running down to Greenleaf Hut, I felt like I was on top of the world. I had left the part of myself that used to say ‘I’m not good enough, I can’t do this’ on top of those mountains, and I haven’t heard from her since. Now whenever fear creeps in--as it often does--I look back down the trail and see how far I’ve come, take a deep breath, turn back around, and just keep walking. I have faith I will get there at my own pace.” Jenn has also served on the Recruitment Committee for the last two years.

Abby Heisler: This will be Abby's second year hiking, and her first year serving as a Team Leader. “I have so many favorite memories from last year that I could hardly pick one," she says. "The Hike is so much more than the three days spent together in the mountains. It is truly a journey from that first meet-and-greet or training hike through the event itself. I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to learn from some amazing women and lose myself in the grandness of the White Mountains. This year’s Hike will be equally amazing, and I look forward to meeting all of the new hikers and reconnecting with women from last year.”

Liz Roy: This will be Liz’s sixth year hiking, and her fourth year serving as a Team Leader. “I didn’t start hiking until after college, but fell in love with it immediately," she says. "The nice switchbacks in Oregon were a good introduction before hitting the granite boulders in the White Mountains. These days, I stay in shape trying to keep up with my two daughters: Delia, born in May of 2006, and Isabel, born in September of 2004. I’m sure they’ll be spotted at a trailhead or two in the next few months.”

Eileen Twiggs: Eileen is a native New Yorker who learned about Wilderness Heals through an ad in the AMC NY-NJ Chapter newsletter. She has participated in the Hike for the last two years, and this will be her first time serving as a Team Leader. When she’s not out hiking, Eileen works as a lawyer in the General Counsel’s Office at the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

Liz Varney: This is Liz’s third year hiking, and her first year serving as a Team Leader. “I think of Wilderness Heals as a win-win-win situation," she says. "I am helping a meaningful cause, I have a chance to grow and challenge myself, and I get to spend three days in the mountains with a group of phenomenal women.”

Anna Wells: This will be Anna’s ninth year Hiking for Women Healing. “I first did the Hike with my mom when I was in high school," she says, "and now I can’t imagine a spring without Wilderness Heals fundraising, meeting, training, and hiking. The lead-up to the Hike and the Hike itself are always incredibly meaningful and fun experiences, but the best part is the friends I have met through doing the event." Fun fact: Anna always fantasizes about pizza hiking out on Day Three.

Kathy Wilder: This will be Kathy’s third year hiking, and her second serving as a Team Leader. Wilderness Heals was her first White Mountains backpacking experience. When she’s not hiking, Kathy loves international travel, skiing, yoga, and her morning bootcamp exercise group.

Recruitment Committee
Members of the Wilderness Heals Recruitment Committee are responsible for organizing tabling events at local festivals and performances, leading recruitment hikes, postering fliers throughout the community, and--in general--drumming up support for the Hike. This year, the Recruitment Committee is implementing a new Hiker Buddy System to benefit first-year hikers. It also recently launched the Wilderness Heals blog.

Maia BrodyField: See above.

Monica Chopra: This will be Monica's second year hiking, and it is her first year serving on the Recruitment Committee. “A few words to describe my experience participating in the Hike last year," she says, "are teamwork, camaraderie, motivated individuals, wonderful friendships, and an AMAZING time! I am glad to help get out the word this year for the Hike because the work I do for the Stone House is so different from what I do on a daily basis. It’s truly an exhilarating experience.”

Annette Glendon-Walker: Annette hails from Ireland, and she was a first time hiker last year. Although she can't hike this year because she is expecting her first child in July, she decided to join the Recruitment Committee to remain involved in the Hike. “I’m totally hooked on the Wilderness Heals experience," she says. "Amazing women, fun times, challenging hikes, beautiful vistas, stepping away from the daily grind to discover you can make a difference--what’s not to love.”

Sandy Goodman: This is Sandy’s seventh year participating in the Hike, and this is her second year serving on the Recruitment Committee. Throughout the spring, she organizes recruitment hikes at Blue Hills. Sandy is famous for leading other Wilderness Heals hikers in group sing-alongs during the long bus rides back to Boston.

Jocelyn Gould: This will be Jocelyn's second Wilderness Heals Hike, and this is her first year serving on the Recruitment Committee. Jocelyn works for the New England Historic Genealogical Society. One of her most memorable moments last year was doing yoga in the parking lot of the Cog Railway just before her team started the climb up to the Lakes of the Clouds Hut.

Beth Grierson: See above.

Jenn Guiry: See above.

This is Sarah Jane's eighth year contributing to the Hike. In previous years, she has served as a Team Leader and a Team Leader Coordinator. Although Sarah Jane will not be able to hike this summer, she joined the Recruitment Committee to remain involved with the Stone House. “Seven years ago," she recalls, "I showed up for my first Wilderness Heals training hike alone and completely unsure if I was up to the social and physical challenges of the day, much less of the three-day hike later in the season. It poured rain, my rain gear turned out to be 'water resistant' rather than 'water proof,'and I ran out of food before we even summited. But in every other way, I had a fantastic time. I got back in my car tired and wet, but grinning. I went on to complete the three-day hike that year under the guidance of a Team Leader who is now one of my dearest friends.”

Vicky Waltz: This will be Vicky's third year hiking, and it is her second year serving on the Recruitment Committee. Vicky’s most memorable Wilderness Heals moments include hiking for the first time above treeline during a training hike over Mounts Lincoln and Lafayette, traversing the Southern Presidentials ridgewalk, and swimming under Silver Cascade during the final day of her 2005 Hike. Her favorite hiking snacks are avacados, dried apricots and mango, and chili-lime peanuts from Trader Joe's.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Learn More at a Hiker Meeting

Want to learn more about Wilderness Heals and the Elizabeth Stone House? Attend one of our Hiker Meetings. Meetings are open to everyone--first-time hikers, veteran hikers, and women who simply want to learn more about the event. Team Leaders will be on hand to answer all of your training questions, and event coordinator Danielle Piscatelli will provide valuable fundraising tips. The agenda also includes presentations by Stone House residents and staff and veteran Wilderness Heals hikers. Hope to see you there!

Hiker Meeting Schedule, 2007

Wednesday, March 28, 2007, at 6 p.m.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007, at 6 p.m.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007, at 6 p.m.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007, at 6 p.m.

All meetings will take place at the Elizabeth Stone House. For additional information and directions, contact Danielle Piscatelli at 617-427-9801, ext. 415, or dpiscatelli@stonehouse.org.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Hiker Makes Headlines

Emily Feinberg, an assistant professor of maternal and child health at Boston University's School of Public Health, was recently featured on BU Today for her contributions to the Elizabeth Stone House.

Hiking for a Cause
BU People: Emily Feinberg takes on mountains to raise money for women's health

By Jenny Brown

When Emily Feinberg takes a hike, she often does so with a mission: to raise money for the Elizabeth Stone House, a Boston-based mental health facility and shelter that provides residential and community-based services to women and children escaping violence. For Feinberg, the mission started 10 years ago, when she saw a sign in her neighborhood for Wilderness Heals, an all-women three-day pledge hike in the White Mountains that benefits the facility. “I’m a very avid hiker, and I thought this would be a great way to go hiking and to support a community organization,” says Feinberg, an assistant professor of maternal and child health at the School of Public Health.

Read the rest of the story here.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Bring a Friend on a Recruitment Hike!

Can't wait until May to hit the trails? Come on a Wilderness Heals recruitment hike!

Throughout the spring, members of the Wilderness Heals Recruitment Committee will be hosting hikes at Blue Hills Reservation, Middlesex Fells, and Mt. Wachusett. These hikes are open to everyone--participants do not need to be registered Wilderness Heals hikers.

Come if you want to jumpstart your training, meet other hikers, or learn more about the Hike. Bring a friend, bring some snacks, and enjoy a walk in the woods! Please note that because these are not official training hikes, participants do not need to carry all of the required Wilderness Heals gear.

Wilderness Heals Recruitment Hike Schedule, 2007

Saturday, April 14, 2007, at Mt. Wachusett
Meet in the parking lot by the Vistor's Lodge at 10 a.m. Dogs are welcome.
For more information, contact Jenn Guiry at jguiry2@hotmail.com.

Saturday, April 21, 2007, at Middlesex Fells Reservation
Meet in the Sheepfold parking lot at 9 a.m. Dogs are welcome.
For more information, contact Beth Grierson at bgrierson@glad.org.

Sunday, April 29, 2007, at Blue Hills Reservation
Meet at the Reservation Headquarters at 10 a.m.
For more information, contact Sandy Goodman at sandragon@lycos.com.

Saturday, May 5, 2007, at Middlesex Fells Reservation
Meet in the Long Pond parking lot at 9:30 a.m. Dogs are welcome.
For more information, contact Beth Grierson at bgrierson@glad.org.

Saturday, May 12, 2007, at Blue Hills Reservation
Meet by the Reservation Headquarters at 1 p.m.
For more information, contact Sandy Goodman at sandragon@lycos.com.

Hope to see you there!
--Wilderness Heals Recruitment Committee

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

On Ethan Pond

Three-year Wilderness Heals veteran Susan Genatossio led last year’s Backcountry excursion. The following excerpt was taken from her journal.

Sunday, June 25, 2006


Becky sits alone at the water’s edge. The boulders at this end of Ethan Pond are perfect perches for watching the new day unfold or an old day come to closure. Her smile is her only greeting to me. A human voice would seem discordant amongst the early morning summer symphony of the mountains. As the mist evaporates off the water with the rising sun, bullfrogs call their song in the quiet pools along the shorelines, and the birdsong fills the air—winter wren, mountain chickadee, white-throated sparrow. Occasionally, circular rings appear and grow on the surface as a fish rises to capture his breakfast bug. I spy a pair of ducks bobbing and cavorting. They are unaware of our presence as we watch their playful romance. Some other members of our team were fortunate to observe a moose here in the dusk of Friday evening. I think Becky and I are hoping for a second glimpse right now.

This peaceful moment is a welcome reward for our having met and conquered yesterday’s hike along the Willey Ridge. The team convened for breakfast yesterday as Friday night’s rainfall slowly diminished. We fired up the backpacking stoves and boiled water for coffee and tea. Oatmeal with raisins and grilled bagels with cheeses, peanut butter, and sunflower seeds were the menu offerings for the energy needed and for getting an early start. We departed for the trail about nine-thirty…those boulders at the pond beckoning us to stay, dawdle, and while away the day.

We hiked back out the Ethan Pond Trail and made our way on to the Willey Ridge Trail. Our goal was to summit Mt. Willey, evaluate the time and progress, then consider pushing on to Mt. Field and Mt. Tom before turning back and retracing our steps to our campsite. After several small stream crossings, the trail became noticeably steeper and very rough. Gravel slides and washed-away sections became the rule with intermittent trail improvement efforts of water bars and stone steps.

Liz proved to be a natural hike leader. Her sure step, agile strength, and remarkable pace kept us all motivated to go forward. Emily, Gaynor, and Alice seemed very able to match her momentum, and those four were often out ahead for most of the day. Karin, Danielle, Becky, and I made up the slower half of our group, but our steady steps found us near the others as we came around each bend in the trail. We talked and shared our stories the entire day.

About half way up the steep climb of Willey, we came across an awesome work of mountain engineering—a multi-tiered, step ladder built to aid our ascent up sheer rock ledge and twisted tree roots. At first it was a bit unnerving, but it wasn’t long before we all felt deeply appreciative of the ease it allowed for us to climb this vertical piece of trail. Alas, the ladder was too short (where’s the escalator?), and the remaining trail to the summit was an arduous continuation of “steep and rough.”

Though this section of trail is only 1.1 miles long, it gains an elevation of 1,600 feet overall. The summit was mostly tree covered with two small outlooks—a disappointment at this late morning hour because the only view was of the inside of a cloud. After a little break and a snack, we voted to continue on to Mt. Field. The trail went gradually up and down through the col, and the overcast sky started to burn off. We could glimpse the wilderness of the Pemigewasset briefly through the trees.

By now it was one o’clock, and a longer break for lunch was in order. As we parked alongside the trail and shared our food, several other hikers passed by on their way to Willey and beyond. Sweaty, bug-bites, and hunger were the general focus points of our team, but spirits were revived with rest, food, and water.

Packing back up, we unexpectedly found the summit of Field just around the next bend. The sun had done its magic and had lifted the mist almost completely. We had phenomenal views across Crawford Notch to the Webster Cliff and the Presidentials marching off to the Northeast. From another vantage point, we saw Mt. Tom in front of us, and the Zealand area beyond. We waved to all of our Wilderness Heals sisters who we imagined negotiating their own challenges in both those regions of the Whites. We then gathered ourselves in a special spot near the summit and recognized the moment in a small ceremony of sharing.

The time on Danielle’s watch said it would be wise to get going for an optimum return to camp before the day’s end. Tom would have to wait for our visit another day. So, we reluctantly hefted our packs and retraced our steps thru the col to the Willey summit. There, in a cloud of black flies, we shared our remaining water with Emily, whose Nalgene bottle was dry, and I cautioned everyone about focusing on their descent. Fatigued and bothered by growing, small discomforts, I was concerned for everyone as we made our way back down the “steep and rough.” For a second time, those ladders were a welcome sight—not only were they a brief respite from the rigors, but also a marker to how close we were to camp.

Having successfully negotiated the downward challenge, the lovely sound of running water greeted us back at the stream crossings, and we took the opportunity to filter and refill our water supply. We bathed our trail-weary feet and bodies, and never before had a cold “head dunk” felt so good!

The trail approaching Ethan Pond is fairly level with many planked sections for protecting the boggy ground under our boots. Those of us at the back of the line were startled to come to sudden stop…a very “manly” ruffed grouse stood right in the middle of the trail, giving Liz the eye and making it very clear we weren’t welcome! His plumage was in full array as he strutted back and forth along the plank ahead. He actually made advances toward us and necessitated our retreat! Who would have thought that a creature the size of a chicken could get the adrenalin of eight women with backpacks running through their nervous systems so completely that they had to consider a bushwhack back to camp! Even our shrieks and foot stomping on the planks didn’t deter his stance! But, AHA! There was the object of his desire…not eight sweaty, stinky women…just one small female ruffed grouse. There she was, coyly making her way alongside the trail in the brush, appearing every so often as to catch his devoted gaze. Finally, she seemed sympathetic to our gender and moved deeper into the trees with her suitor close behind.

Our campsite and tents came into view. This part of the day is always so welcome. Small luxuries become huge…drop the packs, wash and change to dry clothes, change socks and footwear, Ibuprofen, hot tea, maybe a little baby powder…it all feels so wonderful…even heavenly! And after recouping a little energy, we gathered at the cooking area for our evening feast of Pad Thai with fresh veggies, tempeh, chicken and a dessert of “Chocolate Decadence”….Backcountry Dauntless Gastronomes are Us!

So now, the morning sun has revealed the entire surface of Ethan Pond, the groves of trees along the shore, and the surrounding ridge lines of this wilderness area. Some other team members have joined Becky and me at the boulder “bleachers,” and soft conversations about yesterday’s hike are overheard.

I guess it is time for me to close my book, put away the pen, and rejoin the human race. But there never was a nicer group of humans to have shared a backcountry experience with. Not less than two days ago we hardly knew each others tales, individualities, and desires…we have been companions of the mountains and of each other…this weekend will never be repeated, but we will carry what is in our hearts on to future Wilderness Heals Hikes and share the mountain spirit with new and old friends.

Peace and Go Wild,

Friday, March 02, 2007

WBOS Partners with Wilderness Heals Hike

92.9 FM WBOS, Boston, is partnering with the Wilderness Heals Pledge Hike. As part of the partnership, WBOS will air public service announcements about the Hike beginning March 1. Interviews with Hike staff members and participants will take place during the months leading up to the Hike, and Wilderness Heals will also have an information table at the WBOS annual Earth Day Festival in May.

Thank you, WBOS!