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, August 24, 2009

Come to the Fall Reunion Hike!

Wondering when you will see your Wilderness Heals friends again? Join us for the 2009 Wilderness Heals Reunion Hike! All current, past, and future hikers, their families, friends, and dogs are welcome.

Date: Sunday, September 13, 2009

Place: Wachusett Mountain in Princeton, Massachusetts (about 42 miles from Boston). Park at the Mount Wachusett Visitor Center off of Mountain Road (about one-quarter of a mile past the Ski Lodge area).

Trailhead meeting times: 9 a.m. for a 4- to 5-mile hike led by Jenn Guiry or 10:30 a.m. for a shorter 1- to 3-mile hike (leader to be determined).

Picnic at the top: Noon (details below)

Anyone who wants to join the picnic but does not want to hike can drive to the top of the mountain. Volunteers will transport all the food and supplies to the summit by car. (Of course, hikers are welcome to haul food in their packs if they need the extra challenge.)

Hiking routes: The exact hiking routes to the summit will be decided at the trailhead. However, plan on arriving at the top of Mount Wachusett by noon.

Food details: The Stone House will provide burgers, hot dogs, and veggie burgers. A potluck for sides and desserts will be coordinated closer to the event.

Driving info:
The mountain access road is open to vehicles from Memorial Day through the last Sunday in October. To reach the summit, follow signs near the map kiosk near the trailhead.

Parking fees: $4 per car

Click here for directions.

Why Do You Hike?

In the video above, five-year hiking veteran Karin Downs explains why she became involved in Wilderness Heals.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

News Flash: Wilderness Heals Hikers Discover New Old Man of the Mountain on Jefferson

New Hampshire's most iconic landmark, the Old Man of the Mountain--a series of five granite cliff ledges that, when viewed from the correct angle, appeared to be the jagged profile of a face--collapsed on May 3, 2003. But during a recent training hike on the 5,712-foot Mount Jefferson, Wilderness Heals hikers discovered another Old Man of the Mountain--on the Caps Ridge Trail. Above: Victoria, Trish, Laura, Amy, Esther, Christine, and Beth set off for the summit of Mount Jefferson.

Laura, Esther, and Christine take a break on the Caps Ridge Trail.

Although round-trip mileage for Mount Jefferson is short at five miles, the trek up the Caps Ridge Trail is notoriously one of the most difficult hikes in the Whites. It's enormous boulders and multiple false summits, as well as the region's unpredictable weather patterns, make Jefferson far more challenging than its mileage suggests. Above: Hikers make their way through fog on the Caps Ridge Trail.

Hikers looked up to see the new Old Man of the Mountain looming in the fog.

Although the group did not summit Mount Jefferson, they enjoyed stunning views from numerous false summits. Above: Beth, Trish, Esther, Christine, Laura, Amy, and Victoria gaze into the Great Gulf Wilderness.

Clearly, this hike involved a lot of scrambling down muddy slabs and boulders.

Sadly, Christine's pants were a casualty of the hike. It's a good thing she had all of her required safety gear, including her long underwear!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Choose Your Own Adventure on Mounts Morgan and Percival

Anyone who grew up in the 1980s is likely familiar with Choose Your Own Adventure, a series of children's books that allows the reader to make choices that determine the main character's actions. After the reader makes a choice, the plot branches out and unfolds, leading to more decisions and multiple endings. And so it was on the five-mile loop over Mounts Morgan and Percival: hikers could chose to summit via scenic cliffs or through caves. They decided to scramble through the caves, which required passing their packs through the extremely narrow openings before wedging themselves through. On their way down from Mount Morgan, they climbed through a second set of caves and discovered a ledge with a 40-foot drop. The only way to get down was via three wooden ladders that were bolted to the side of the cliffs. Everyone agreed that the ladders and caves were their favorite part of the day because, although they were the most challenging, they allowed for the most teamwork. Above: Ginevra, Vicky, Kathleen, Michaela, Jo-Ann, and Keri on the summit of Mount Morgan.

Keri takes a brief break as she climbs Mount Percival.

Kathleen wiggles through the narrow opening of the cave on Mount Percival.

Vicky squeezes her way through a cave.

The sun shines through an opening in the cave.

Michaela and Kathleen climb to the summit of Mount Percival.

Sisters Michaela and Ginevra summit their first mountain together.

Fourth of July on the Hancocks: A Hail of a Celebration

There were no fire works at the summits of North and South Hancock on July 4, but there was thunder, lightening, rain, and hail. Five Wilderness Heals hikers completed the 10-mile loop over the 4,420-foot and 4,319-foot mountains in record time, despite the extreme weather, swollen river crossings, and horribly flooded trails. Above: Vicky, Emily, Anna, Jenn, Lucia, and a friendly visitor take a break at the summit of North Hancock, shortly before the storm rolled in.

Prior to the completion of the Kancamagus Highway, North and South Hancock were two of the most remote, inaccessible peaks in the White Mountains.

Emily, Jenn, Anna, and Lucia have lunch before attempting the steep climb to the summit of North Hancock.

North Hancock is flanked to the northeast by Mount Carrigain, to the south by Mount Huntington, and to the west by Mount Hitchcock.

More Rain, More Fog--Just a Typical Day in the Whites

Thanks to the unseasonably rainy New England summer, there wasn't much to see at the summit of the 4,315-foot Mount Osceola. But that didn't deter a group of Wilderness Heals hikers from climbing to the top. Thankfully, the clouds broke long enough for everyone to see just a little bit of a view.

Karen, Debbie, Nechama, Barbara, and Theresa take a short break on the way to the summit.

Barbara, Keri, and Nechama break for lunch.

Debbie and Karen smile in spite of the rain.

Mount Osceola is named for a Seminole chief. When it's not raining, views from the summit cover a large portion of the White Mountains, extending from Mount Washington in the northeast to the town of Waterville Valley in the south.

Debbie and Theresa are thankful for their rain gear!

Beth laces up her boots.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Wilderness Heals Interview on Mix 98.5

Last month, local radio station MIX 98.5 interviewed Amy Howard and Anna Wells about Wilderness Heals. Amy is the Hike's event coordinator, and Anna is a second-year team leader coordinator and an 11-year hiking veteran. Click on the link above to listen to the interview.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Bearing It All on Kearsarge North

Sunday's hike up the 3,268-foot Kearsarge North can be summed up in one word: bear! Shortly after arriving at the trailhead, hikers spotted a large black bear crossing the street.

Kathleen prepares to hit the trail.

Although it rained during the entire 6.2-mile hike, Karin never stopped smiling.

Lisa, Sue, Jenn, Vicky, and Nora take a short rest in the rain.

Kathleen and Karin make their way up the trail.

Raindrops glisten on the plants.

A glass-enclosed fire tower at the summit provided a warm place to eat lunch and change into dry clothes. Above: Karin, Jenn, and Vicky.

Vicky naps during a break on the descent.

Three Mountains, Nine Miles, Ten Hours

It was slow-going for the eight women who took part in Saturday's Lincoln-Lafayette training hike, but they made it back to the trailhead before dark! Many Wilderness Heals hikers cite this classic 9-mile loop over the 5,089-foot Mount Lincoln and the 5,260-foot Mount Lafayette as their favorite hike. It features multiple stream crossings, waterfalls, rare alpine vegetation, three peaks, gorgeous views, a ridgewalk, and a stop at Greenleaf Hut. Above: Debbie, Nika, Eileen, Wendy, Karen, Jenn, Vicky, and Mary take a short rest atop Little Haystack before continuing on to Mount Lincoln.

The group stopped at Shining Rock for lunch. Above: Jenn, Eileen, Mary, Debbie, Wendy, Karen, and Nika.

Shining Rock is accessed by a short spur off of the Falling Waters Trail. It gets its name from the water that constantly trickles down its steep cliffs. The cliffs can be seen glistening from the highway far below.

The first peak that the group summited was the 4,780-foot Little Haystack. The mountain is not included in the New Hampshire 4,000-footers list because of its lack of vertical prominence.

Jenn and Vicky get ready to tackle Mount Lincoln.

Mount Washington can be seen from the summit of Mount Lincoln.

Karen (far right) consults a map while Debbie and Mary rest.

Nika and Eileen take a break atop Mount Lincoln.

The group begins its ascent up Mount Lafayette.

The ridge is seen from the Old Bridal Path.

After more than ten hours, Debbie, Vicky, Nika, Karen, Wendy, Jenn, Mary, and Eileen arrive back at the trailhead.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Major Training on Mount Major

On Sunday, June 7, eleven Wilderness Heals hikers climbed the 1,786-foot Mount Major. The mountain's rocky summit offers extensive views of Lake Winnipesaukee and the Belknap Range.

The trail to the summit was a moderately steep, 1.5-mile climb through lush woods.

Amy and Amanda summit their first mountain ever.

It was Tatiana's first hike, too.

Jenn takes in the view while resting against the remains of an old stone hut.

Katie basks in the sunshine.