Some wild women are venturing off the beaten paths every week to explore different trails. The prospect of hiking alone has held many women back from experiencing nature in the Ottawa area, but not anymore. Now the Trekking Tribe provides women with hiking buddies.
When I heard there was no fee to become a member, I decided to take a walk on the wild side and I signed up for my first hike. I didn’t know what to expect when I met up with six women at the Mer Bleue Bog, but I soon discovered the Trekking Tribe is a group of diverse, friendly, intelligent, fun- loving women who enjoy outdoor adventures.
Friends Robyn Baldwin, Brittany Sullivan and Jamie Wainman formed the Trekking Tribe in January of 2017. They created a Facebook group and soon the Trekking Tribe grew to over a hundred members. Brittany Sullivan is a 24- year-old master’s student at Carleton University and she says social media-inspired hiking groups are popular in western Canada.
“We knew a social media platform would reach a lot of women in our area and hopefully spark their interest to join.”
Each week, a poll is posted on the group’s Facebook page asking women which day they would like to go hiking. If you’re free to take a hike, you check off the day you want to go. The post includes details on where to meet and what time. For those who lace up and head out, the Trekking Tribe offers safety in numbers, as well as opportunities to explore Mother Nature’s beauty that can only be found on foot.
The Trekking Tribe isn’t just about hiking though. Robyn Baldwin, a 34-year-old marketing manager, says her favourite Trekking Tribe adventure was when the group met at the Lac-des-Loups on the north side of Gatineau Park.
“A man created the skating trail on his property and has a Zamboni to ice it. The trail was so well maintained. We went on a snowy day so the trail, coupled with fresh falling snow, made it magical. We skated a few loops of the three kilometer trail and took photos along the way.”
Brittany says her favourite Trekking Tribe adventure was a hike on the Lauriault Trail in Gatineau Park.
“We had a great turnout and some of the women brought their dogs, which made the experience even better. It was nice to see everyone interacting and making new friendships.”
When I went on my adventure with the Trekking Tribe at Mer Bleue Bog, we hiked the trail in record time.
“We should hike the trail again, but in the opposite direction,” suggested 28-year-old yoga instructor Karina Auclair. “We might get a different experience this time.”
It was unanimous. All the women were eager to continue hiking, so off we went in the opposite direction. I was thoroughly enjoying my conversations with fellow hikers when I noticed Karina had strayed from the pack.
When I looked back, I caught her in a moment of serenity, standing alone, facing the sun with a smile on her face. Later, when I asked her why she took that time alone, she told me it was because she had been looking down at the ground, focusing on her footing, and hadn’t taken a moment to admire the landscape.
“When I looked up and noticed the beauty and stillness around me, I knew I simply wanted to be with it. So, I quietly decided to take a pause, let those behind me go ahead, and faced the sun to let the rays warm me. I felt grateful and joyful.”
Fortunately, the Trekking Tribe is blazing a trail for aspiring female hikers. The group is building a positive community of Ottawa women who have a passion for being outdoors. Brittany says women of all fitness levels and ages are welcome to join.
“I can’t explain the feeling you get when you are out in nature; it’s so beautiful and you feel totally at ease. I have so much appreciation for our amazing Canadian landscapes, and hiking let’s us see these places first hand.”
This summer, the Trekking Tribe plans to explore numerous trails throughout Ottawa and Gatineau. Brittany says the Carbide Willson Mill Trail is at the top of her wish list.
“I am hoping to get a group of women together this summer to hike there. I’ve seen photos of the mill ruins and it looks beautiful.”
She recommends participants bring a water bottle, rain jacket, hiking shoes, a granola bar or other snack, sunscreen and a hat.
“Bug spray and a smile!” adds Robyn.
To become a member of the Trekking Tribe and take part in the hikes, join the Facebook group or follow the tribe on Instagram @trekkinggirls.