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, October 06, 2008

The White Mountains: A Force of Nature

Last weekend's cold snap transformed Massachusetts into a kaleidoscope of rich red, gold, and orange. But autumn arrived a lot earlier in New Hampshire. The leaves in the White Mountains peaked several weeks ago, and snow has already fallen at the higher elevations. Autumn is a lovely time to explore the Whites, but bear in mind that, while it may be warm and sunny in Boston, temperatures in the mountains will be a good 10 to 15 degrees lower than temperatures in the city. Before heading north, be sure to pack plenty of warm layers, food, and lots of water. The Boston Globe Sunday Magazine printed an excellent article about White Mountain safety last summer. The headline, "A Beautiful Place to Die," might strike some as rather alarmist, but the truth is, the White Mountains are famous for having the worst--and the most unpredictable--weather in the United States. Please remember to use common sense when embarking on any mountain adventures in the upcoming weeks and months. We want you to be around next spring for Wilderness Heals training season!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Mother, Daughter Team Up to Reach New Heights

The NH Broadcaster recently published a story about Jane Frasca and her daughter, Natalie Surmeli, two 2008 Wilderness Heals hikers who collectively raised an estimated $6,500 for the Elizabeth Stone House. This wasn't the first mother-daughter team that participated in Wilderness Heals. Eleven years ago, when she was only 17, Anna Wells joined her mother, Mary Lincoln, for her first Wilderness Heals Hike. Today Anna is a team leader coordinator, and Mary serves on the Stone House's board of directors. And in 2007, Karin Downs hiked with her 18-year-old daughter, Shanti Balin-Downs. Today, Karin is a team leader. To read more about Jane and Natalie, click here.

Additionally, hikers Nika Stoop and Vicky Waltz were recently featured in the Boston Globe and Bay Windows. Click here and here to read their stories.

Join the Wilderness Heals Facebook Group

Do you have a Facebook account? Check out the Wilderness Heals Pledge Hike Group. By joining, you'll be able to network with past and present Wilderness Heals hikers and Elizabeth Stone House staff members, as well as Stone House volunteers and their friends. Check it out!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Welcome, Amy Howard

The women of the Elizabeth Stone House and the Wilderness Heals Hike would like to extend a warm welcome to Amy Howard, the Stone House's new associate director of development and hike coordinator. Amy replaces Danielle Piscatelli, who served in the position for four years before leaving to work at an environmental advocacy agency in downtown Boston.

Dear Wilderness Heals hikers and supporters,

Vicky (and this blog) have provided me with a wonderful opportunity to introduce myself and to hopefully learn more about all of you in return. My name is Amy Howard, and I am the newest member of the Elizabeth Stone House team. As the associate director of development, I will be working with Amanda Green, the development assistant, and the rest of the Stone House--as well as all of you--to plan an absolutely fabulous 2009 Wilderness Heals Hike!

I was born and raised in a small town in Maine. My family has always been deeply involved in social-justice work, and the influence of my parents and two older sisters drove me to pursue an education in social work and a career dedicated to improving the health and lives of women. I graduated from Skidmore College in upstate New York, and then went on to pursue my Masters in social work (with a concentration in nonprofit management) at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia .

After I finished school, I took a wonderful job working for an international reproductive-health nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., called Catholics for Choice. My New England roots have brought me back to Boston, and I am so excited to be back in the Northeast and to be a part of the Elizabeth Stone House’s amazing work.

I would consider myself a relatively novice hiker, as my first true love has always been modern dance. For the past 18 years, I danced for hours and hours a day before giving up this dream to throw myself completely into social-justice work. In my free time, I have been exploring Boston, searching for a great new yoga studio, and discovering all of the delicious new restaurants in and around the area!

After growing up in the woods of Maine, I am excited to see more hiking areas in New England and to enjoy the changing of the seasons once again. I love exploring new opportunities and new challenges, and I am ready to soak up all that the Hike has to offer while raising much-needed, unrestricted money for the courageous women and families here at the Stone House.

As the primary contact for the Wilderness Heals Hike, I welcome any questions you might have regarding the Elizabeth Stone House, fundraising, and the Hike in general. As someone who is new to both the Stone House and the Hike, I welcome and encourage your feedback. Please call me at 617-427-9801, ext. 415, or e-mail me at ahoward@elizabethstone.org with any thoughts you have.

I am looking forward to meeting all of you in person. Until then, let me take this opportunity to thank all of you who are the volunteers, leaders, and true heart of Wilderness Heals. Your commitment to one another and to the women and families of the Stone House continues to inspire me.


Friday, September 05, 2008

Wilderness Heals 2008

Click on the arrow on the left-hand side of the photo above to launch a slide show from the 2008 Wilderness Heals Hike.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the 2008 Wilderness Heals Hike. Collectively, hikers raised $115,000 for the Elizabeth Stone House. In spite of wretched weather and injuries (or perhaps because of them), this year's Hike proved to be quite unforgettable.

To view additional photos from the Hike, click here.

Stay tuned for more information regarding the fourteenth annual Wilderness Heals Hike, to be held July 17-19, 2009. And don't forget about the reunion hike this fall. Date, time, and place will be announced soon!

Friday, June 06, 2008

Sneak Peak: Danna Steinberg

Name: Danna Steinberg

Years Hiked: 2

Positions: Hiker

Day Job: Assistant media auditor

Total Contributions to the Stone House: "I haven't calculated it."

Claim to Fame: "The ability to become one with a mountain."

Why She Hikes: "To experience nature's healing effects."

Favorite Hike: The Badlands in South Dakota and Mitzpeh Ramon in Israel

Most Memorable Wilderness Heals Experience: "Hiking the ridgeline on the Presidentials."

Most Challenging Moment: "Jumping into a freezing cold swimming hole."

Favorite Hiking Snack: Chocolate chip cookies

Favorite Piece of Gear: "My hiking boots because they don't give me blisters."

Words of Wisdom: "Um, can I get back to you on that one?"

Note: In an effort to allow hikers to get to know one another before hitting the trails, the Wilderness Heals blog will feature weekly 'Sneak Peak' hiker profiles. If you would like to be profiled, please contact Vicky Waltz.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Sneak Peak: Donna Whyte-English

Name: Donna Whyte-English

Years Hiked: 3

Position: Hiker

Day Job: Nurse practitioner and clinical aromatherapist

Total Contributions to the Stone House: Approximately $3,000

Claim to Fame: Her homemade aromatherapy jewelry

Why She Hikes: "I am challenging myself to get into the best shape of my life, I’m a survivor of childhood family violence, and I love being in nature and spending time with the amazing group of women who do this Hike."

Favorite Hike: "Do I have to pick a favorite? I guess Mount Osceola."

Most Memorable Wilderness Heals Experience: "Getting to the top of Mount Tecumsah, my first 4000-footer."

Most Challenging Moment:
"Doing a river crossing my first year–I was petrified, and my team leaders coached me every inch of the way."

Favorite Hiking Snack: Gorp

Favorite Piece of Gear: "My boots–because they carry me."

Words of Wisdom: "Just do it! If I can do it, just about anybody can!"

Monday, May 19, 2008

Sneak Peak: Margaret Moore

Name: Margaret Moore

Years Hiked: 2

Positions: Hiker

Day Job: Bookkeeper

Total Contributions to the Stone House: Approximately $6,200

Why She Hikes: "I hike to raise money for the Elizabeth Stone House. It is the only charity I have ever felt comfortable raising money for."

Favorite Hike: The Lafayette Ridge and Mount Moosilauke

Most Memorable Wilderness Heals Experience: "Hitting the summit of Mount Washington with Vicky Waltz."

Most Challenging Moment: "One of my teammates had a bit of a meltdown during our ascent to Madison Hut on the first day, and I was doing my best to encourage her to stay positive."

Favorite Hiking Snack: Almonds, M&Ms, cran raisins, dates, and general gorp

Favorite Piece of Gear: "Gortex outerwear--when it rains, there is nothing better. If the weather would only stay perfect, then it would be a tank top and shorts."

Words of Wisdom: "I was born on third base in terms of opportunities. Those for whom we hike are not even in the dugout. We need to find a way to give everyone the basic opportunities of being safe, loved, fed, clothed and housed--but most especially being safe. The words of one ESH resident haunt me. She said, 'The Stone House is the first place I have ever lived where I felt safe.' She was over 30 years old. That statement was pretty scary, and yet profound. What we take for granted is sometimes elusive to non-existent for far too many people. Let us spread the wealth wherever we can and give the opportunity of success to as many as we can."

Note: In an effort to allow hikers to get to know one another before hitting the trails, the Wilderness Heals blog will feature weekly 'Sneak Peak' hiker profiles. If you would like to be profiled, please contact Vicky Waltz.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Wilderness Heals Hikers 'By the Great Hill'

On a rainy Saturday morning, seven Wilderness Heals hikers set off for Wachusett Mountain in Central Massachusetts. By the time they reached the trailhead at ten o'clock, the skies had cleared and the sun was shining--a perfect day for a training hike. Hikers who scaled the 2,006-foot mountain included first-year hikers Linda Ballance and Megan Foret, and veteran hikers Susan Genatossio, Jenn Guiry, Vicky Waltz, Anna Wells, and Donna Whyte-English.

In Algonquin, Wachusett means "by the great hill." It is the same root as the word Massachusett, which means "people of the great hill." Although there are many moderate trails that lead to the top, hikers chose a more challenging route to the summit. Following the Bicentennial Trail, they wandered through a forest of tall oak, maple, beech, and hickory trees before turning onto the High Meadow Trail, which led steeply uphill.

Next, they turned onto the Jack Frost Trail, which led into a thick grove of hemlock trees that quickly gave way to a series of smooth, pillow-shaped bedrock that was polished by the glaciers that retreated more than 10,000 years ago. Wachusett is the remnant of a lone peak that once rose high above the surrounding plains, independent of any other mountain range. According to geologists, the peak was once a towering 23,000 feet, but was gradually worn down by glaciers and erosion.

After a short stretch on the Lower Link and Harrington Trails, hikers enjoyed a leisurely lunch at the summit, where Megan and Linda had their pictures taken. Afterward, it was only a short, half-mile jaunt back to the parking lot.

Megan stands on the summit of Mount Wachusett.

Linda stands on the summit of Mount Wachusett.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Dear Veteran Hikers...

Dear Veteran Hikers,

I came across my hiking boots today. They were jammed in the back of my closet, buried beneath a bag of clothes that I’ve been meaning to donate for the last nine months. I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve barely looked at my boots since last fall, and the mud from an August hike through Blue Hills is still caked on their soles. Digging deeper into the closet, I pulled out my backpack and began rifling through it. Remnants of last year’s Wilderness Heals Hike cluttered its compartments: a Luna bar wrapper, an extra pair of socks, a pebble from the summit of Mount Washington.

My pack—a royal blue Gregory Deva 60—is like a diary of past Wilderness Heals Hikes. A logo patch, given to me after my first Hike back in 2005, is sewn tightly onto a back pocket. A necklace that I made during my 2006 Hike dangles from a zipper, and the beaded blue bracelet that my team leader gave me last year is clipped to a purple carabiner key ring.

Sitting on my bedroom floor, surrounded by these relics of summers gone by, I close my eyes to better recall my first Wilderness Heals Hike. I remember standing atop the bald summit of Mount Eisenhower, gazing upon the valley far below. The blazing June sun beat upon my bare shoulders, and a gentle breeze blew across the barren ridge, rustling nearby patches of diapensia and alpine bilberry. I can almost hear the shouts and laughter of my teammates as we made our way down the rocky trail.

The next afternoon, after a thoroughly refreshing swim under a mountain cascade, my team leader gave me a pinecone. “A seed,” she said, “because on your first training hike, a seed was planted—in you. And I’ve watched it grow and blossom into the young woman who just jumped into that pool. And I’m so proud of you.”

Wilderness Heals embodies many elements: teamwork, camaraderie, self-reliance, perseverance, and self-discovery. And while climbing mountains is indeed an integral part of the event, Wilderness Heals is—more than anything—defined by the women who return year after year to raise money for the Elizabeth Stone House. Without them, there would be no Hike. And without a Hike, I would have a lot fewer joyous summer memories.

The thirteenth annual Wilderness Heals Hike will take place July 18-20, and registration is currently under way. In the upcoming weeks, I hope you’ll dust off your hiking boots, cinch up your pack, and follow me into the woods. This summer, I challenge you to climb one more mountain—and be reminded anew of why Wilderness Heals.


Vicky Waltz
Team Leader and Recruitment Committee Member

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Sneak Peak: Beth Grierson

Name: Beth Grierson

Years Hiked: 10

Positions: Hiker (2), Team Leader (5), Team Leader Coordinator (3), and Recruitment Committee member (3)

Day Job: Manager of Development Operations at Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders in Boston

Total Contributions to the Stone House: Approximately $12,000

Claim to Fame: Her propensity to jump into water, her ability to bounce on impact when falling, and ginger fudge, made by her loving partner, Julia

Why She Hikes: "Why did I start? Part of it was my interactions with a woman I’ll call Jane, who was a frequent customer at a coffee house I used to work in. She’d spent time in a number of mental wards and halfway houses, and seemed totally brutalized by the process–to the point where she often refused to seek medical care, because she worried that if she got upset or emotional, she’d be labeled as unstable and wind up in restraints rather than say, getting treated for her cough. It seemed to me like she was learning how to cope with the mental health system, rather than life outside of it. And I would look at her and wonder if I could just as easily have been looking at my own mother or grandmother–if, at crucial moments of their lives, the support systems around them had fallen apart or disappeared, or if they had never had them. If, for example, my father’s first–and thankfully last–attempt at slapping his wife into submission had ended, not with him cooling his heels in a police car, but with the cops turning away from 'a private matter,' which was a far more common response at the time. I also kept thinking there had to be a better way to help women like Jane.

Then I got to know Laurie Holmes, who was very involved with ESH and the first Hikes. I was really impressed by what she told me about the Stone House, and how peer support was an integral part of the program, how the idea was to help women help themselves. It just seemed like such an amazing organization. And then my friend, Linda Platt, and I started talking about how the Hike seemed like a really fun and challenging thing to do for a really great cause, and we kind of goaded each other into doing it.

I keep doing it because it has been a really fun and challenging thing to do for a really great cause. The Hike pushes my buttons sometimes, and it’s helped me learn a lot about myself over the years (some lessons were more fun than others). I love introducing other women to hiking and/or the Stone House, and being able to help people face their own challenges the way the Hike has helped me face some of mine. And even with occasional button-pushing and drama, I just have such a blast doing it."

Favorite Hike: "I tend to love anything with the opportunity to get some great views, and/or scramble on some rocks. And water. There are few things more enjoyable than being able to soak your feet–or your head–in nice, cold water after a long hike."

Most Challenging Moment: "Asking for money is a huge challenge for me. The closest I come at my day job is writing appeal letters–but that’s different. I do most of my asks face-to-face. It ties my stomach in knots, but it’s usually very productive. And I think the fact that I’m clearly nervous helps! Because people know I don’t ask for donations for just anything.

On a Hike, it was probably having to convince one of my teammates that she really was too sick to continue hiking to the hut, and that we needed to get her off the trail. I felt awful because I knew how important being able to finish the Hike was for her, and she’d worked hard to get as far as she had. I felt even worse realizing I probably should have convinced her to hike out that morning."

Most Memorable Wilderness Heals Experience: "This ties in with my answer above. So, we hiked out. Once I knew she was safe with the basecamp crew, I trekked back up the Mitzpah cutoff to the hut. I wanted to get back to the rest of my team, and more than that, I wanted to get back to my partner, Julia, who was also hiking that year (same leg, but with a different team). As soon as I walked in the hut, everyone from Wilderness Heals got up (it was the end of dinner) and started cheering. I really wasn’t expecting it, and I was so touched and overwhelmed, I think I started to cry.

Also, a few years back, we had one leg of the hike starting at Madison Hut, and one at Mitzpah Springs Hut, with both teams meeting at Lakes of the Clouds Hut on the second night. Somehow, groups from both legs wound up converging on the summit of Mount Washington at about the same time. We were everywhere! This big swarm of incredible, determined women–we took the place over. It was an amazing feeling."

Favorite Hiking Snack: "Ginger fudge. Or Sweet, Salty, Nutty trail mix from Trader Joes. Or avocados. Or sopressatta. Or Toblerone. I could go on, I like food."

Favorite Piece of Gear: "My backpack. It’s a Gregory Shasta–bigger than I really need, and it’s not the lightest pack on the market, but it fits me perfectly, and I love the suspension on it. I feel like I could carry a small Volkswagon in the thing."

Words of Wisdom: "You don’t need my words of wisdom–you’ve got everything you need inside of you. You might just need a little help remembering it’s there."

Note: In an effort to allow hikers to get to know one another before hitting the trails, the Wilderness Heals blog will feature weekly 'Sneak Peak' hiker profiles. If you would like to be profiled, please contact Vicky Waltz.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Team Leader Training Weekend at Lonesome Lake Hut

Recently, ten Wilderness Heals hikers spent two days at Lonesome Lake Hut for the annual Team Leader training weekend. Workshops were led by Tim and Kate--two Appalachian Mountain Club staff members--and included sessions on first aid, outdoor leadership, Leave No Trace methods, and how to plan, pack, and prepare for a backpacking trip. Pictured above: Eileen, Susan, Liz, Vicky, Beth, Karin, Wendy, Mischa, Anna, Danielle, and Tim.

Although it's spring in Boston, there is still a lot of snow in the White Mountains--even in lower elevations. The hike up to Lonesome Lake required trekking poles and lots of warm layers. Pictured above: Kate, Eileen, and Susan.

Anna is expecting her first child in September, but that doesn't stop her from strapping on her pack and hiking up to the hut.

Hikers take a moment to gaze upon the partially frozen Lonesome Lake.

The westernmost hut on the Appalachian Trail, Lonesome Lake Hut (elevation 2,760 feet) is an hour's hike from Lafayette Campgrounds, and is nestled against the flank of Cannon Mountain.

Shortly after hikers arrive at the hut, Mischa and Susan prepare a lunch of hummus and tabouli.

Note: The first training hike of the 2008 Wilderness Heals season will take place on Saturday, May 10. Training hikes will occur every weekend until Saturday, July 12. Don't forget to contact a team leader to sign up!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Hiker Featured in Women's Health Magazine

Anyone who opens last month's issue of Women's Health magazine will see a familiar face. Because of her commitment to the Elizabeth Stone House and to the Wilderness Heals Hike, Anna Wells was featured as the magazine's Action Figure for the month of April. At age 17, Anna joined her mother on her first Wilderness Heals Hike. In the nine years that she has participated in the event, Wells has raised more than $17,000 for the Stone House. In past years, she has served as a Team Leader, and this year she is a Team Leader Coordinator.

This is the first time that the Wilderness Heals Hike has received coverage in a national publication. To read the story, click here.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Behind the Scenes: The Women Who Run the Show

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.

Adminstrative Staff

Danielle Piscatelli: Danielle is the Event Director of Wilderness Heals and the primary contact for the Hike. She schedules and facilitates all hiker meetings, organizes all updates that 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 four years, and Wilderness Heals 2008 will be her fifth year organizing the event. In her spare time, Danielle enjoys completing volunteer trailwork throughout the country. Her most recent trailwork experience took her to the wild forests of Lake Baikal in Siberia.

Amanda Green: Amanda is the newest member of the development staff at the Elizabeth Stone House. She assists Danielle in scheduling and facilitating all hiker events, keeps track of sponsorships, and helps with recruitment.

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 four years and enjoys meeting the "extraordinary women who participate in the Hike." In addition to working with the Stone House, Mary teaches at Suffolk University. She enjoys hiking and spending time outdoors with her husband, two young children, and dog Maggie.

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.

Liz Varney: This is Liz’s fourth year hiking, her second year serving as a Team Leader, and her first year serving as a Team Leader Coordinator. “I'm so excited to be a part of coordinating an event that heals women on so many levels," she says. "The Hike has brought me triumph, adventure, strength, accomplishment, fresh air, spectacular views, stories, laughter, and three of my closest friends."

Anna Wells: Anna has been involved in Wilderness Heals for ten years. She hiked for the first time with her mother, when she was only 17. Anna has served as a Team Leader in years past, and this is her first year serving as a Team Leader Coordinator. Because she's expecting her first child in September, Anna will not be participating in the three-day hike. Instead, she'll be staying at the Highland Center and managing Base Camp. Anna's favorite trails are in Franconia Notch, and after a long hike, she enjoys nothing more than a big slice of pizza.

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.

Karin Downs: Wild mountain stories have been a part of Karin’s life for as long as she can remember. Her father, an Adirondack guide, told tales--tall and otherwise--as bedtime stories to rile her before she fell asleep. Hence, her dreams were always filled with impossible feats, incredible vistas, leaps over chasms, and near-death adventures. Karin transitioned from imagined to actual adventures as a teen when she began hiking in the Adirondacks. She later trekked in Nepal, first with friends, and eventually with her children. This will be Karin's fourth year hiking, and it is her first year serving as a Team Leader. Karin is also a member of the Recruitment Committee. She recently returned from a trip to Thailand, where she greeted her new granddaughters for the first time ever.

Susan Genatossio: A longtime resident of Cape Cod, Susan has participated in Wilderness Heals for the past five years. This will be her fourth year serving as a Team Leader. Prior to her involvement in Wilderness Heals, Susan was a "den mother" to her local Boy Scout troupe. Over the years, she has led dozens of boys--including her two sons--through the White Mountains. "I love the mountains," she says, "and I love to hike in the mountains with the companionship of old and new friends as we support the Elizabeth Stone House. I haven't regretted a single moment on the trail, and I look forward to seeing what's around the bend. Peace and go wild!"

Beth Grierson: Beth has spent every summer for the past nine years raising awareness for the Elizabeth Stone House. This year will mark her tenth Wilderness Heals Hike. Throughout her decade of service, Beth has juggled multiple duties: she has been a Team Leader for eight years, a Team Leader Coordinator for three, and a Recruitment Committee member for three. “My favorite hike is anything that gives me an opportunity to soak my head,” she says. When she's not bagging peaks in the Whites, Beth can be found strolling through Middlesex Fells with her dogs, Ollie and Augie. She lives in Somerville with her partner, Julia.

Jenn Guiry: This will be Jenn's third Wilderness Heals Hike, and her second year serving as a Team Leader. She has also served on the Recruitment Committee in years past. Jenn lives in Leominster and enjoys hiking and camping out with her two dogs. "I totally love being in the mountains," she says, "and I'm hiking this year because 'Wilderness Heals' everything." Last spring, Jenn expressed her commitment to the Hike by tattooing the Wilderness Heals logo on her bicep. To read why, click here.

Danielle Piscatelli:
See above.

Mischa Schuler: A Cambridge community herbalist, Mischa became involved in Wilderness Heals after moving to Boston in 2006. She has met some of her dearest friends through the Hike. "Hiking keeps me close to the region's medicinal plants," she says. "And Wilderness Heals is an amazing way to build community and self-trust."

Eileen Twiggs: Eileen hails from Manhattan, and despite the long drive, heavy pack, and black flies, she continues to participate in Wilderness Heals year after year. "I'm truly inspired by the work of the Stone House and by the women who hike these mountains to support it," she says. This will be Eileen's fourth year hiking, and her second year serving as a Team Leader. A lawyer for Planned Parenthood, Eileen's favorite hike is the Lincoln-Lafayette loop in Franconia Notch.

Vicky Waltz: Vicky grew up in a small farming community in Ohio, where the closest she ever came to exploring the backcountry was bushwacking through the cornfield behind her grandparent’s house. She became involved in Wilderness Heals shortly after moving to Boston three years ago. This will be her fourth year hiking, and it is her first year serving as a Team Leader. A three-year member of the Recruitment Committee, she also manages the Wilderness Heals blog. Vicky’s favorite outdoor activities include hiking, camping, biking, and wearing her head lamp.

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. Last year, it launched the Wilderness Heals blog.

Monica Chopra: Monica became involved in Wilderness Heals two years ago after moving to Boston from Atlanta. This is her second year serving on the Recruitment Committee. Although numerous out-of-town weddings will prevent her from participating in this year's three-day Hike, Monica recruited tirelessly over the winter. Her hard work resulted in four universities choosing the Elizabeth Stone House to be the beneficiary of four Vagina Monologues performances. "I am glad to help get the word out for the Hike," she says. "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.”

Karin Downs: See above.

Annette Glendon-Walker: Born and raised in Ireland, Annette became involved in Wilderness Heals in 2006. Although she was unable to hike last year--she gave birth to a baby girl in July--she remained active by volunteering with the Recruitment Committee, an activity she resumed this year as well. Annette plans to be back on the trails this spring. "I can't wait to reconnect with other hikers--and to leave the baby with Dad for some time to myself!" she says. "To all you potential hikers--what are you waiting for? Just lace up your boots and join us on the most rewarding, challenging, and fun thing you'll ever do!"

Beth Grierson: See above.

Vicky Waltz: See above.

Sue Weil: Sue followed her girlfriend into her first Wilderness Heals adventure five years ago, and she's never looked back. "I had always spent time outdoors," she says, "but Wilderness Heals was the first time I carried more than a day-pack. My favorite part of the Wilderness Heals experience is spending so much time with other hikers throughout the training season. As for the Hike itself, it has been great, and every year I'm challenged anew." This is Sue's first year officially serving on the Recruitment Committee, although in years past, she tabled at events and led recruitment hikes with former Recruitment Committee member and girlfriend, Sandy.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

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, 2008

Wednesday, April 16, 2008, at 6 p.m.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008, at 6 p.m.
Wednesday, June 4, 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.

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 and Middlesex Fells. These hikes are open to everyone, including men and children. 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. For information about the hikes, contact wildernessheals@elizabethstone.org.

Wilderness Heals Recruitment Hike Schedule, 2008

Sunday, March 30, 2008, at Blue Hills Reservation
Led by Sandy Goodman and Sue Weil
Trail route to be determined
Meet at 9:45 a.m. in the parking lot across the street from the Reservation Headquarters, located at 695 Hillside St. in Milton, 1/4 mile north of Houghton's Pond, beside the State Police Station.

Saturday, April 12, 2008 at Middlesex Fells Reservation
Led by Beth Grierson
Reservoir Trail (approximately 5 miles)
Meet in the Long Pond parking lot at 9:30 a.m. Dogs are welcome.

Sunday, April 20, 2008, at Middlesex Fells Reservation
Led by Beth Grierson
Skyline and Reservoir Trails (approximately 5 miles)
Meeting in the Sheepfold parking lot at 9 a.m. Dogs are welcome.

Saturday, April 26, 2008, at Blue Hills Reservation
Led by Sandy Goodman and Sue Weil
Trail route to be determined.
Meet at 9:45 a.m. in the parking lot across the street from the Reservation Headquarters, located at 695 Hillside St. in Milton, 1/4 mile north of Houghton's Pond, beside the State Police Station.

Directions to Blue Hills:
By car: Take I-93 to Exit 3. Turn right at the stop sign onto Hillside Street. Houghton's Pond is located approximately 1/4 miles on the right. Continue 1/4 miles to the Reservation Headquarters on the left.

By MBTA: Take the Red Line to Ashmont Station. From Ashmont, take the high-speed line to Mattapan. The Canton and Blue Hills Bus services the Trailside Museum and Great Blue Hill on Route 138. For the Houghton's Pond area, exit the bus at Blue Hill River Road. Cross the road and walk one mile east on Hillside Street.

Directions to Middlesex Fells Reservation, Long Pond:
Take I-93 to Exit 33. This puts you in a traffic circle. If you're coming from the north, take the first right you can onto South Border Road. If you're coming from the south, go half-way around the circle and turn right onto South Border Road (if the circle is a clock, South Border is at 10). Follow South Border Road for a mile to the Long Pond Parking area (on your right). Long Pond is clearly marked. If you come to a traffic light, you've gone too far. Please be aware that there are no non-tree bathroom facilities at the Fells or any of the Fells parking areas, and no public restrooms nearby.

Directions to Middlesex Fells Reservation, Sheepfold:
Take I93 to Exit 33. This puts you in a traffic circle. Take Rt 28 North/Fellsway West out of the circle. The entrance to the Sheepfold parking area will be on your left about half a mile or so from the traffic circle.

Monday, February 04, 2008

You Can Go Your Own Way, or 2008 Hiking Routes

Wilderness Heals offers a range of hiking routes that are uniquely tailored to a variety of skills and interests. Routes are rated on a scale of 1 to 5, 1 being the easiest and 5 being the most challenging. Routes for Wilderness Heals 2008 are listed below:

Itinerary 1: Pemi Ridge Exploration, Two Nights in Galehead Hut

Summary: Hikers on this route spend two nights at the remote and beautiful Galehead Hut, located at the edge of the Pemigewasset Wilderness. Depending on the team's trail choices, this route can be anywhere from relaxing to strenuous. Spending two nights at Galehead allows hikers to explore portions of the Pemigewasset Wilderness at their own pace, as well as providing possibilities to summit one or more 4,000-foot peaks. Hikers can also carry slightly less gear and food in their packs on Saturday's adventure.

Rating: 2-5

Day 1: Hikers can choose one of three routes to reach Galehead Hut. The most strenuous option is to hike from the North Twin trailhead up and over North and South Twin mountains to the hut. Another challenging route brings hikers up and over Mount Garfield. A less challenging option is a shorter hike up the Gale River Trail to meet the Garfield Ridge Trail, which meets up with the hut.

Day 2: Summiting opportunities abound on the second day of this hike, or, teams may opt to take it easy. Hikers may choose a relaxed jaunt to Thirteen Falls or hike along the Twinway to Zealand Falls. Or, if hikers want to bag a peak or two, they can choose among several 4,000-foot mountains, including Mount Bond, West Bond, Bondcliff, North and South Twin, Mount Garfield, and Mount Lafayette. Hikers may leave non-required gear and hike with lighter packs.

Day 3: Today, hikers have the same three trail option as on Day 1, but in reverse. Hike straight out the Gale River Trail, over Mount Garfield and out, or, with an early start, over South and North Twin. Drivers will meet the teams at the trailhead to transport them to the Highland Center in Crawford Notch.

Itinerary 2: President Venture, Mizpah Spring Hut to Lakes of the Clouds Hut

Summary: This is a moderate hike option for hikers to explore the Southern Presidential range. This route invites hikers to summit six 4,000-foot mountains, including Mount Washington--New England's highest peak--over the three-day span. Hikers will take in stunning views along the ridge as they travel from hut to hut. This route also allows hikers to meet up with other Wilderness Heals teams coming from the Lakes of the Clouds Escape.

Rating: 3-5

Day 1: Hikers will be dropped off at Crawford Path to ascend to Mizpah Spring Hut. Those looking for a more challenging route can trek in over Mount Pierce. Afternoon hikes include Mount Pierce or a loop over Mount Webster and Mount Jackson.

Day 2: Hikers will follow the Crawford Path to Lakes of the Clouds Hut with the option to summit Mounts Pierce, Eisenhower, Franklin, and Monroe. After unloading extra weight at the hut, hikers can scale Mount Washington to take in the panoramic views of the Presidentials. Hikers will also have the pleasure of mingling with Lakes of the Clouds Escape hikers who will already be at the hut.

Day 3: On the final day, hikers can choose to hike out via Crawford Path to the Highland Center, or they can hike down the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail, where a shuttle will be waiting to transport them to the reception.

Itinerary 3: Lakes of the Clouds Escape, Two Nights at Lakes of the Clouds Hut

Summary: Hikers on this route will spend two nights at the beautiful Lakes of the Clouds Hut. The range of trails from the hut offers something for everyone. By choosing this option, hikers have the possibility of conquering five 4,000-foot mountains, including Mount Washington, New England's highest peak. Staying two nights in the same hut allows hikers to carry slightly less gear and food in their packs during Saturday's hike. Hikers will be joined at the hut by the Presidential Venture teams on Day 2.


Day 1: Hike into the Lakes of the Clouds Hut via the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail. Teams may choose to summit Mount Monroe or explore the ridge once reaching the hut.

Day 2: Today there are several hiking options ranging from easy to strenuous. Hikers may choose to summit Mount Washington and explore the adjacent ravines. Other options include following the Crawford Path to summit Mounts Monroe, Franklin, Eisenhower, and Pierce. An alternate hike includes a traverse along the Dry River Trail to the scenic Dry River Falls. At the end of Day 2, hikers will welcome teams of hikers who will be traveling in from Mizpah Spring Hut.

Day 3: The final day concludes with a hike out via the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail, where a shuttle will be waiting to transport hikers to the Highland Center. Ambitious teams may choose to hike out Crawford Path, with options to summit Mounts Monroe, Franklin, Eisenhower, and Pierce before descending to the Highland Center.

Itinerary 4: Backcountry Camping

Summary: There are no huts with running water and prepared meals for this option. The backcountry team will have the opportunity to plan and prepare meals together on portable stoves. The White Mountains offer a range of backcountry camping possibilities with great day hikes from the established camp. No prior experience in backcountry camping is required. Hikers who choose this option should be prepared to carry tents, sleeping bags, and cooking equipment, and they must contribute to the route-planning each day. This route offers a great opportunity for hikers to learn about backcountry camping experience in a supportive environment.

Rating: 3-5

Days 1-3: Backcountry hikers will decide their three-day routes as a team. Team leaders will decide which campsite to use based on the size and composition of the backcountry team. Campsite options include the Nauman tentsite, Ethan Pond, Guyot, Thirteen Falls, Garfield Ridge, and Resolution Shelter.