Hiking is the best! But you know what makes it even better? Doing it with awesome people who love hiking as much as you do. But finding those people can be tougher than it sounds. When I first moved to Alaska, I didn’t know anyone to hike with. And as a total newbie to steep trails, bears, and moose I knew that I didn’t want to hike alone. I slowly started finding hiking buddies, which were mostly my coworkers from my outdoorsy job in Seward. But as people moved away or stopped hiking as much I basically got down to one or two solid hiking buddies. We went on some awesome adventures, but I was still always looking for my hiking tribe – a group of people who would be down for hiking a lot of different trails in all four seasons.
It wasn’t until recently that I really began finding my hiking tribe. It’s made up of girls who love to hike and also aren’t embarrassed to take pictures at the summit and Instagram it later. It’s made up of people who all have different amounts of experience and comfort with hiking. There’s people in it who love to backpack with me, and others who just want to walk around on a flat trail for an hour. My tribe is made up of lots of smaller groups from all areas of my life, and sometimes these groups get to overlap on a group hike. But sometimes it’s just nice to know that if I want to go hiking today, I know I can find someone who is free and is down for an adventure.
Finding your hiking tribe is a process. And just like hiking, the journey is fun but can take you out of your comfort zone! Here’s how I found my tribe:
Search for local hiking groups. Googling “Hiking groups in (insert your city here)” will probably find you lots of options. I decided that I wanted to start with women’s hiking groups, and I found a lot in my area. But here’s the tough part: once you find the group, you actually have to get out there and hike with people you’ve never met before. It can be really intimidating to show up at an event where you don’t know anyone, but I’ve always had good experiences each time I’ve done this. If you’re nervous about getting left behind, make sure you ask what level the hike will be. Most group hikes I’ve done have been really relaxed and accepting of all levels. The best part is getting to try new trails you’ve never heard of before and learning new tips and tricks that make hiking better.
Lead your own group hikes. After finding my local Girls Who Hike group, I became an ambassador and started leading the monthly group hikes in Anchorage. It is a lot of work but it’s definitely worth it! It’s fun to share my favorite hikes with other women and to chat with them about hikes they’d like to try in the future. You don’t need an official hiking group to be able to do this though. I know one friend who recently started her own hiking group through Facebook and has planned some really cool hikes.
Take on a hiking challenge. In January I started the 52 Hike Challenge, and I was surprised to find a lot of other people (both locally and online) who were also doing the challenge. It was nice to find people to talk to about the challenge, and to find local hiking groups and people who were doing a weekly hike. It helped keep me accountable while also helping me find new people to hike with.
Inspire people around you to go on hikes. It’s actually amazing how easy this step is! There are probably so many people in your life who want to hike, but don’t know how to get started. I was recently selected as a Trailblazer for the 10K Women Trail Project, which is an initiative through REI and Hike It Baby to get ten thousand women out on the trails over the next year. It’s pretty simple: if you take two women on a hike with you, they’ll start to love hiking. And then they’ll probably take a few of their friends on a hike, and those people will probably hike with some of their friends…and it continues on until we have lots of new people who are into hiking! If you want to sign up to help spread the hiking love, go here! It’s free and all you have to do is log whenever you hike with other women. It’s really fun seeing the number of women on the trails go up (we’re at 4,881 already!).
Do you have a hiking tribe? What tips do you have for finding people to hike with?