Hike Like A Woman: Breaking Barriers to Empower Women Outdoors
Rebecca Walsh stands on a section of the Continental Divide Trail between the Battlepass and Deep Jack trailheads in southern Wyoming, taking in the view.
“The landscape is beautiful,” she says. “A good mix of pine trees and high alpine tundra, some streams, lush evergreen forests. We hiked through some lodge poles earlier, and we’ll finish the day in a dense, beautiful forest.”
Sounds like a nice place to find yourself in. Especially if you’re Rebecca Walsh. Because for her it’s more than an adventure. It’s her job.
Walsh is the founder of Hike Like A Woman, a Wyoming-based organization dedicated to removing the roadblocks to outdoor adventure for women. Which today involves introducing four women from four states — the nearest Colorado, the farthest New Jersey — to this lovely, challenging, zigzagging 12-mile section of the Continental Divide.
“I’m kind of an introverted extrovert and I love people, but I also love the solitude of nature,” Walsh says. “So trips like this are an interesting balance. There’s a shared, common experience that’s just amazing. But I also like taking those moments where I can just walk away from the campsite and listen to the wind in the trees or the birds chirping.”
Walsh was born in Wyoming and caught the hiking bug from her outdoorsy parents, who loved to fish and hike and cross-country ski with their kids.
“I feel really blessed, because I grew up in this awesome family where getting outside and going on outdoor adventures was a normal activity for us. But I realize that not every woman had that experience growing up,” she says.
Creating Hike Like A Woman, launched in Spring 2015, is Walsh’s way of passing that love along — honoring her parents and empowering women at the same time.
“I think there’s a need for a group like this,” Walsh says. “Because as a woman sometimes we see the wilderness as this big, scary place with things that are intimidating. Maybe it’s wild animals. You might not know what to pack. You might not have anyone to go with.”
Walsh’s goal with Hike Like A Woman is to build and sustain an online and real-world community positive, kind and welcoming to women of all shapes, sizes, ethnicities, sexual orientations and outdoor experience levels.
“We have to break down those barriers and help women have the skills and knowledge they need to get outside and explore with confidence,” she says.
“Everyone has to climb the same hill. And where there’s mutual suffering there’s mutual fun,” Walsh says. “The beautiful thing about being out here in the Wyoming wilderness with a group of women is the sisterhood we’re able to provide to each other. It leads to a whole lot of laughter and a whole lot of fun and a whole lot of deep moments, too.”