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.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Women Who Make It Happen: A Guide to the Faces Behind the Hike

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.

Administrative Staff

Erika Whyte: This is Erika’s fourth year involved with the Hike. Erika grew up in the city of Providence, RI, and although she enjoyed hiking around the many state parks, she fell head over heals in love when she met the White Mountains in 2003. Erika began her love affair with the outdoors when she participated in the AMC’s Youth Opportunity Program’s Outdoor Leadership Training that spring.

For the past six years, Erika has had the opportunity to instruct for YOP but has recently taken a hiatus due to the birth of her son, Matthew. This afforded her the opportunity to delve deeper as a member of the Wilderness Heals community. Erika became the Wilderness Heals volunteer and committee coordinator last year and is thoroughly enjoying her second year on the job.

Erika believes "the quiet that nature provides allows us to be centered and thoughtful about our place in the universe. Wilderness does heal!”

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.

Marilyn Castriotta: This is Marilyn's second year hiking with Wilderness Heals, and first year serving as team leader. Forested mountains are her favorite landscape. She's an active member of the Appalachian Mountain Club's 4,000-footer club, having completed the New Hampshire 48 in 2009 and the New England 67 in 2010. Having participated in AMC's Leadership Training in 2010, she's now an AMC co-leader. This summer she'll also be attending AMC's week-long Mountain Leadership School, and a two-week permaculture course in Quebec. One of the 1,000 trained by Al Gore to give his climate presentation, Marilyn's particularly concerned about the effect of deforestation on climate change, as well as the effect of climate change on the boreal forest. A passionate and practical environmentalist, Marilyn's been working in the environmental field for 10 years and currently seeking work in forest conservation.

Jessica Cook: This will be Jessica's third year hiking for Wilderness Heals and her second year serving as a team leader and as a member of the recruitment committee. Jessica has spent the last five years leading groups of both children and adults through the backcountry and has always found the wilderness to have a profound effect on those who spend time in it. This is why she found Wilderness Heals to be the perfect event for her to contribute her time to, because Wilderness DOES heal. Jessica was incredibly inspired by the power of the Hike. Women, from all walks of life, coming together in support of other women was a truly moving and beautiful thing to experience, and that is why she keeps coming back for more. Jessica is particularly excited for the Hike this year because her little sister will be participating for the first time.

Susan Genatossio: Susan is descended from one of the original families that settled the New Hampshire seacoast region,which makes her particularly fond of all things New England, especially the White Mountains. This will be her eighth year participating in Wilderness Heals, and her sixth as a team leader. The Hike is Susan's favorite way to be part of a community of friends--old and new--who share the love of the mountains and the passion to hike. She looks forward every year to all Wilderness Heals adventures.

Susan has lived in Sandwich, Cape Cod, since college graduation. She live with her two best friends; her husband of 31 years, Charlie, and their golden retriever, Eagle. They have two handsome grown sons, one beautiful daughter-in-law, and one grand-dog, an elegant lab/hound mix. Susan is the gallery manager/appraiser for the Sandwich Auction House, and she works daily with the stewardship of objects from the past. Some other things she's passionate about are hiking and exploring the beaches, woods, and conservation areas of the Cape, quiet water kayaking, gardening and flower arranging, horseback riding (though she is currently horse-less), sitting by a campfire, spending time with her little sister at the beach, and she's also kind of a fanatic about recycling and Leave No Trace principles.

Most likely to be stashed in her backpack are an emergency supply of chocolate and powerful talismans from all prior Wilderness Heals Hikes: moonstones, goddess pendants, and beaded bracelets of rainbow colors.

Jenn Guiry: This is Jenn’s sixth year participating in Wilderness Heals, after taking last summer off to do some traveling with her partner, Vicky. The statement, “We’d rather be hiking,” was no more true than when Jenn, Vicky, and their dogs, Connor and Bailey, were driving down the Mass Pike, beginning their nine-day trip to Ohio.

This year Jenn is hiking in honor of a former client who was truly inspired by the event after seeing photos of ESH residents on top of Mount Major and knowing that people really do care.

Jenn is best known in the Whites--and pretty much everywhere--for her “Irish whisper” and for needing her “indoor voice” even when she's outdoors. She does not watch TV, and she loves to cook. Some of her favorite foods are eggs—some days as many as six--lobster, and asparagus. Jenn always carries a set of rosary beads in her backpack in case she is ever stranded or lost.

Angela Herring: Over the years, Angela has walked through the woods and over the rocks of the White and Green Mountains, the Colorado Rockies, the Olympic National Forest, and the Costa Rican Rainforest. She grew up in the Boston area and now lives in Jamaica Plain with her boyfriend and their dog. In addition to being a dog owner and a backpacker, Angela is also a chemist, a writer, a baker, and a furniture maker ….she has not yet taken up candle stick making, but it would not be surprising if she did. This is Angela’s second year hiking with Wilderness Heals and her first serving as a team leader.

Katie Kozin: The 2011 Hike will be Katie's seventh year with Wilderness Heals, and her sixth year serving as a team leader. She is also a former team leader coordinator. The bearer of trail names such as "Bunchberry" and "SmileMile," Katie loves her time in the mountains and is just three peaks shy from completing hikes to the top of New Hampshire's 48 4,000-footers. Anyone up for a hike to the Bonds? A seasoned hiker, Katie has taken her passion for hiking all over the world, including the Peruvian Andes, the Himalayan foothills, and a climb up Mount Kilimanjaro.

As a resident of Jamaica Plain, Katie sees volunteering for the Elizabeth Stone House as a great way to support her community, while at the same time explore new territory. She says, "Wilderness Heals brings together an incredible cross-section of women who may have different amounts of mountain experience but all feel passionate about raising funds for the important work that the Stone House does every single day."

Katie is a professional fundraiser for School Year Abroad, a high school study abroad program, and in her spare time loves to travel, watch movies, cross country ski, create mosaics, take zumba, kickboxing, and belly dancing classes, and speak Italian. Her favorite trail foods are good old PB&J without the J, string cheese, turkey jerky, and--of course--grapes.

Ashley Mattison: Wilderness Heals 2011 will be Ashley's second Hike and her first year serving as a team leader. Although she grew up in the country, she didn't bother with outdoor activities until she moved to the city. It has only been a few years since she started hiking, but the mountains have gotten a solid hold on her. Last year's Wilderness Heals was a first for Ashley - hiking with women only. A little unsure at first, Ashley was nervous, but it turned out to be one of the best experiences of her life. She is looking forward to this year's hike - a great time in a great place with some great women.

Nora O’Farrell: Nora started hiking with Wilderness Heals in 2009 after her sisters, Mary Kelly, Pat Ghannam, and Kathleen Carey (all veteran Wilderness Heals participants), shared exciting tales of mud, weather, slips, falls, great company, and amazing views. While always having enjoyed a walk in the woods, Nora’s hiking up to that point was pretty much limited to the Blue Hills.

Nora was hooked after her first training hike with Wilderness Trails. Hiking in the beautiful and rocky White Mountains, she relishes the challenges of the climb, expansiveness at the summit, and the meditative descents. Nora appreciates all the wisdom and skill veteran hikers shared on the trails. This year Nora committed to being a Team Leader as a way to share the joy of hiking with new participants as well as supporting the Elizabeth Stone House.

Nika Stoop: Growing up in Alaska, Nika spent a large part of her childhood camping and fishing. As a kid, her family regularly drove to Mount McKinley park and marveled at the wildlife and scenery. As she got older, Nika began exploring backpacking and the backcountry on her own, but she didn't fully appreciate the power of hiking until she became involved in Wilderness Heals. Nika lives in Medford and frequently takes her dogs hiking in the Fells and New Hampshire. "For me, hiking rejuvenates my soul," she says. "I have enjoyed the camaraderie and learned a great deal from the women who have hiked in Wilderness Heals." This will be Nika's fifth year hiking and her third year serving as a team leader.

Amanda Tweed: After trying out winter hiking this year, Amanda comes back for her fourth Wilderness Heals (her third as a team leader) with a greater appreciation for the summer hiking season. While she enjoyed her winter experiences and the opportunities they brought for playing with new gear (crampons can be a real asset on a trail of solid ice), she looks forward to delayering and traveling a little lighter this spring. She's also hoping to convince a few of her winter hiking friends to try out Wilderness Heals.

When not on the trail, Amanda enjoys yoga, Pilates, biking to work, tomato gardening, and hanging out with friends. Last year, she took a week off from her day job as a manager of statistical programming activities at a local biopharmaceutical company to hike in the Canadian Rockies. She is looking to repeat the experience this summer with an extra week added on for backpacking.

Vicky Waltz: After taking a hiatus from Wilderness Heals in 2010, Vicky is ready to hit the trails. Or rather, she will be once she awakens from her winter hibernation. This will be Vicky's sixth year hiking, and her third serving as a team leader. In previous years, she was a member of the recruitment committee, and she also manages the Wilderness Heals blog. This summer she's looking forward to reconnecting with her hiking friends while knocking off a few more 4,000-foot summits from her list.

In no particular order, some of Vicky's favorite things are sushi, coastal Maine, atlases, lupine, dogs, (specifically hers), and sarcasm. Her penchant for pigtails and sweet corn can likely be traced to her hometown of Wooster, Ohio, where Amish buggies are as common as pick-up trucks. A former journalist, she recently changed career paths and became a dog groomer. You can read about her grooming (mis)adventures at her blog, A Groom of One's Own.

Anna Wells: Anna has been hiking Wilderness Heals since the dawn of time. No, not really, but this will be her 15th year participating in some form or another. Over the years she has been a hiker, team leader, and team leader coordinator. Anna grew up hiking in the White Mountains with her parents and brothers, and at age 17, she participated in her first Wilderness Heals Hike with her mother. She returns to the Hike year after year because she deeply believes in the cause the hike supports, she loves hiking in the White Mountains, and she gains incredible inspiration from every person she comes into contact with along the journey, especially her fellow team leaders.

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. Four years ago, it launched the Wilderness Heals blog.

Jessica Cook: See above.

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 and Laos, first with friends, and eventually with her children. This will be Karin's seventh year hiking with Wilderness Heals. In previous years, she has served as both a team leader and recruitment committee member. Her favorite trail food is candied ginger, licorice jelly beans, and chocolate-covered coffee beans. Her goals for this year are to conquer and befriend multiple peaks, stay strong, keep her powder dry, and laugh a lot.

Danna Steinberg: Danna first got involved with Wilderness Heals as a hiker in 2005 and has since been in involved in the recruitment committee and again as a hiker. This will be her third year hiking and her third year on the recruitment committee. Danna is thrilled to stay involved with Wilderness Heals, which combines two of her greatest passions: the wilderness and community service. Her other passions include painting, travel, technology, and spending time with children and animals--especially her almost two-year-old son and her two pet rabbits. Danna hikes to experience nature's healing effects, and her favorite places to hike are deserts and Latin American rain forests and cloud forests.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Celebrate Spring Thaw with a Recruitment Hike

It's time to break out the boots and break some trail!

Throughout the spring, members of the Wilderness Heals Recruitment Committee will be hosting recruitment hikes throughout Massachusetts and New Hampshire. These hikes are open to everyone — 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 three-day event. Bring a friend, bring some snacks, and enjoy a walk in the woods!

Saturday, April 2, at Franklin Park, Boston

Meeting time: 2 p.m.
Meeting place: Shattuck Picnic Grove Area, across from Shattuck Hospital
Led by: Erika Whyte - (781) 726-0551 and Karin Downs - (617) 833-2911

Hiking route: The loop follows Circuit Drive around the golf course. A good place to start is at the Golf Clubhouse or along the park maintenance road in front of the Shattuck Hospital by the picnic area and tennis courts. There are a few forks in the path, but all eventually bring you around the golf course again. Highlights as you walk include the arched stone bridge over Scarboro Pond, a popular birding site, Mother‘s Rest sitting area just down from the Golf Clubhouse with views across a sweeping landscape, and the mature European beech grove. Taking unmarked paths is perfectly safe and you‘ll chance upon Schoolmaster Hill, the plateau on top of Scarboro Hill, or an old tree stump carved into a chair.

Visit the Franklin Park Web site for directions.

Sunday, April 3, Borderland State Park, Easton, Mass.

Meeting time: 10 a.m.
Meeting place: Park Office
Led by: Victoria Sandbrook - (508) 930-2314

Directions: From the north, take Route 128 south to I-95 south (toward Providence). Take Exit 10 (Sharon, Walpole, and Coney Street). Take a left at the end of the ramp and follow two or three miles to the traffic light in Sharon Center. Go straight through the intersection and immediately bear right onto Pond Street. Follow Pond Street for one and a half miles until you come to a traffic rotary. Go half way around the rotary and continue onto Massapoag Avenue for three miles to the park entrance, on your left.

From Boston, take the southeast expressway south to Route 128 north and then to I-95 south. Follow directions from above.

From the west, take the Mass Pike to I-495 south to Exit 10 (Easton and Route 123). Take a left at the end of the ramp and follow Route 123 east toward Easton. Route 123 will merge with Route 106 east. After this merge look for the brown "Borderland" sign, on the left about a half a mile from the merge. Take this left onto Poquanticut Avenue. After about a mile the road will fork; bear to the left onto Massapoag Avenue and follow signs to the park, approximately another two miles. Entrance will be on your right.

From the east (Brockton), take Route 24 north to Exit 17B (Easton). Follow Route 123 west to the intersection of Route 138. Take a right onto Route 138 north and follow to the second set of traffic lights. Take a left onto Main Street and continue about one mile into the center of North Easton. In the center the road will fork; continue straight up the hill to Lincoln Street and follow to the end, about two miles. Take a right onto Bay Road, then an immediate left onto Allen Road. Follow Allen Road to its end, about one and a half miles. Take a right onto Rockland Street and follow for just under a mile to a four-way stop sign. Take a right onto Massapoag Avenue; the park entrance will be one mile on your right.

From the south (Fall River), take Route 24 north to Exit 16 (Route 106 west and Mansfield). Follow Route 106 west through four sets of traffic lights. Go through the fourth light, which will be the intersection of Route 123 and Route 106. Continue west on Routes 123 and 106 for half a mile. Turn right onto Poquanticut Avenue Follow the signs to the park, approximately three miles.

From the south (Providence), take I-95 north to exit 7A (Mansfield and Route 140 south). Take Route 140 south to the intersection of Route 106 east. Follow Route 106 into Easton. Route 106 will merge with Route 123. Continue half a mile after the merge and turn left at the brown Borderland sign onto Poquanticut Avenue. Follow Poquanticut Avenue and bear left onto Massapoag Avenue to the park, which will be on your right, approximately three miles from the turn at Routes 106 and 123.

Saturday, April 16, Middlesex Fells, Skyline Trail, Medford, Mass.

Meeting time: 10 a.m.
Meeting place: Bellevue Pond
Led by: Karin Downs - (617) 833-2911 and Danna Steinberg
Trail distance: 7 miles
Hiking time: 5 to 6 hours

Trail Description: From the parking lot, take the main trail, leaving Bellevue Pond on your left. Watch for white blazes a few yards after the pond on your right. They will lead to Pine Hill, where an observation tower offers spectacular views to Boston. From the tower, head north, following the blazes on the rocks to complete the hike. This hike, which loops the western side of the Fells, has some steep ascents.

Directions: From Boston, take I-93 north to Exit 33 for Middlesex Fells. Take the roundabout halfway to the first exit on the right (sharp turn). The parking lot is about a quarter of a mile on the right.

Sunday, April 17, Wachusett Mountain, Princeton, Mass.

Meeting time: 10 a.m.
Meeting place: Visitors Center
Led by: Victoria Sandbrook - (508) 930-2314

Visit the Wachusett Mountain Web site for directions.

Saturday, April 23, Blue Hills, Milton, Mass.

Meeting time: 10 a.m.
Meeting place: Parking lot across from the Reservation Headquarters, at 695 Hillside St. in Milton, beside the police station. Call (617) 698-1802 for park information.
Led by: Karin Downs - (617) 833-2911 and Erika Whyte - (781) 726-0551

Directions by car: Take I-93 to Exit 3. Turn right at the stop sign onto Hillside Street. Houghton's Pond is located approximately a quarter of a mile on the right. Continue a quarter of a mile to the Reservation Headquarters on the left.

Directions 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.

Saturday, April 30, Mount Major, West Alton, NH

Please note: because this recruitment hike is in the Whites (or near them rather), you will be required to have some basic hiking and safety gear. Also, you must inform one of the hike leaders that you are planning to join the hike. See below for a list of required gear.

Meeting time: 10 a.m.
Led by: Karin Downs - (617) 833-2911 and Danna Steinberg

Approximate driving time from Boston: 2.25 hours
Rating: Easier
Distance: 3 miles
Highest Elevation: 1,784 feet
Elevation Gain: 1,180 feet
Approximate duration: 3 hours

Hiking route: Take the obvious road that leaves from the right side of the parking lot as you face the mountain. There are blue blazes on the road. Almost within sight of the parking lot, the road forks. After the two rejoin, the blue blazes and the main trail turn left at another junction about .8 miles from the parking lot. The road becomes a footpath, often with several branches which usually rejoin. The trail climbs over a small knoll then steeply up the rocks to the summit. The distance from parking lot is 1.8 miles. On the return, look for blue blazes dropping off to the northeast.

Directions: Take I-93 north to Exit 9 (Route 3 north and Route 28 north) toward Hooksett. When Route 3 and Route 28 split, follow Route 28 north. When you come to the intersection with Route 11, take Route 11 north. Follow for about four miles north of Alton Bay until you reach the trailhead on the left.

Required Gear:
Day pack
Emergency whistle
Snack and lunch for hike
64 ounces of water
Waterproof rain jacket
Fleece or wool hat
Insulating fleece/wool sweater (no cotton)
1 polypro/nylon T-shirt (no cotton)
1 pair of polypro/nylon quick dry shorts or zip-away pants (no cotton or jeans)
Sunscreen and bug spray