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.

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

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