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.

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.

No comments: