Wild is a story of catharsis, of going to the woods to find yourself, of how a long walk on the Pacific Crest Trail results in lifelong change. Society expects men to go camping and tromping in the woods. But women are drawn to long distance hiking, too.
To commemorate the release of the movie, we collected interviews with women we know who’ve gone to the wild and found themselves changed by the experience, starting with my own story. In my two decades of being a part of the hiking community, I learned that many of the women headed out to our National Scenic Trails wanted to re-invent themselves in some way. And I was among them.
If you’re curious about backpacking and long distance hiking and want to meet up with experienced women hikers to learn more about enjoying the outdoors, I highly recommend the Trail Dames, a national organization with regional chapters for women hikers and backpackers.
Amanda “Rainbow” Hus holds the thru-hiker record for most times walking the length of Florida on the Florida Trail. She didn’t discover hiking until later in life
The founder of Trail Dames, a national organization to empower female hikers, Anna Huthmaker took on the Appalachian Trail in 2003 despite her own self-doubts.
In her mid-fifties, Barbara “Nails” Quinn decided the best way to recharge her life was to find adventure on her own by taking a long walk in the woods.
On March 28, 2014, Stuart resident Elaine “Cadi” Cadigan Zumsteg began her Appalachian Trail thru-hike. After meeting “Hobo Nobo,” the ladies finished together on September 30.
Completing the Appalachian Trail on her own in 1996 earned Gail Johnson her trail name, Gutsy. She was the first woman to share her journal and journey online.
Judy “Heartfire” Gross headed to the AT in 2006 with plans to complete a thru-hike. A business idea she made reality is a hiker’s godsend for lightweight gear.
A successful writer and Triple Crown hiker, Karen Berger is the woman I looked up to as a role model for carving a career out of the outdoors one step at a time.
A long-time trail maintainer and hike leader, Lori “SwampTromper” Burris has encouraged many women in South Central Florida to take that first step into the wild.
A volunteer for ALDHA and on the Board of Directors of the Florida Trail Hikers Alliance, Luanne “Tigger” Anderson has not just hiked, but helped manage an Appalachian Trail hostel.
After completing the Appalachian Trail, Misti “Ridley” Little thru-hiked the Florida Trail with her husband Chris in 2011. She actively promotes the Florida Trail to the hiking community.
Hiking the AT before and the PCT after, Rayana “Acorn” Adra is one of a handful of women to thru-hike the Florida Trail during the 2014 hiking season.
After her AT thru, Regina Reiter made hiking her life. She works seasonally as a ATC Ridgerunner and teaches women how to let go of their fears and get outdoors.
Jacksonville resident Susan “Hammock Hanger” Turner is an amazing woman. She’s been hiking on some long distance trail somewhere on Earth for the past 13 years.