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.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Wilderness Heals: A Trademark of Teamwork

Over Memorial Day weekend, first-year hiker Margaret Moore went on two training hikes: Saturday's loop over Mount Percival and Mount Morgan, and Sunday's hike up Mount Tecumseh. Here's what she had to say:

Memorial Day weekend marked my first training hikes with Wilderness Heals, and it came to symbolize why I chose to donate my time and raise money for the Elizabeth Stone House. The group of women who participated in the two hikes demonstrated the type of communal effort and support needed to allow for success of all of the hikers, regardless of skill or fitness level. The leaders led by example, encouraging and supporting everyone.

Anyone who has ever hiked in the White Mountains knows that they can be relentless at times and are always demanding of even the fittest individuals. Our hikes, though relatively short (five miles each) had everything the Whites can throw at you: long steep climbs and descents, stream and river crossings full of slippery rocks, heat, bugs, sudden cooling temperatures, and rain.

Through the two days, one hiker in particular, Donna, had a difficult time. Day one started out hot and buggy and only got hotter and buggier as we hiked. From the beginning of the hike, Donna had a hard time catching her breath and needed frequent stops. Having been in that situation myself, I know how difficult it was for her to continue on. It can take all of one’s resolve to take that next step forward. But with the help and guidance of one of the leaders, Sheryl, Donna pushed through her pain and uncertainty, established her rhythm, and completed the hike.

Day two started out much better; no bugs and considerably cooler. Donna worried that she would not be able to complete this hike because the previous day had been so difficult. But she set the goal for herself and began day two. In the beginning, all went well, but she again began to lose her breath until she realized she was not concentrating on her rhythm. This day’s hike consisted of the “never ending climb.” Although the climb was not as steep as the previous day’s climbs, it did not let up for most of the hike. Added to the difficulty were numerous stream and river crossings that required skill and balance. With the guidance of Eileen, another group leader, Donna was able to make the crossings and complete the climb to the summit--her first 4,000-foot mountain!

At the top, our third group leader, Susan, gathered us all together to commemorate Donna’s courage and tenacity in overcoming her fear and fatigue. Then we had to walk back down the mountain to complete the day. Susan hung back with Donna and encouraged and guided her through the difficult descent. And Eileen stayed at the river crossings to show Donna the best way to get across and to make sure she was safe.

In the end, because Donna had set her own goals, and because the group leaders and other hikers taught and guided her with patience, Donna was able to accomplish her goals. I truly feel Donna could not have succeeded without both. Her goals and resolve were necessary, but probably would not have been sufficient without the guidance and patience of the leaders and other hikers.

The Elizabeth Stone House operates in the same way. Individuals need to set their own goals before they can be accepted into the mental health and substance abuse programs. Once they are in the programs, they are advised and assisted by advocates who teach them the basic skills they need to succeed. Once they learn these skills, they will be able to succeed in life and become independent and strong women.

This is the cause I choose to hike for: building strong, independent women and families from those who are wandering in their own wilderness of misfortune. I want everyone to have the opportunity to succeed and to have patient guides who lead them out of their personal wilderness to success. Once the opportunity is given, the individuals are the ones who must follow through and find their own success in the same way Donna found her success in the mountains.

Wilderness truly heals not only those we are hiking for, but the hikers themselves.

--Margaret Moore

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