Back at the end of 2016, I made a goal to get outside more. Whether it's taking the dog for a walk around the neighborhood or tramping into the woods to hunt with Wes, being outside has always been my favorite place to be. But somehow in 2016, I let life, business, and general laziness get in the way of that. I wasn't spending nearly enough time out in the elements to make my heart happy, so I knew that 2017 had to be different. I wasn't sure exactly what that would look like, but I knew that I needed to make it a priority.
Just a little while after I set that goal for myself, I saw a post by my friend Jessica of Jessica Ryan Photography. Jessica was always outside doing the things I wish I was doing. She and her now husband were always hiking and exploring and taking their adorable dogs along on their adventures. Every time she posted pictures of their outings, it pushed me a little harder to make the time for those things myself. When Jessica posted about the group she was putting together, Her Hike Collective, I knew this was the universe at work, pushing me to meet my goal.
Jessica created Her Hike Collective for a number of reasons that she explains best on her website. But one of the reasons was to introduce other ladies to the great outdoors. There are so many of us that wish we could do something and we just need that little extra push. We need that hand to hold to show us the way and make us realize it doesn't have to be overwhelming or scary. That's exactly what Her Hike Collective was for me.
This year, I was able to go on a total of three hikes with the group. Definitely not as many as I'd hoped, but way more than I made time for in the past. I hiked over 20 miles, climbed rocks I never would have pushed myself to attempt before, spent time with old friends, and made a surprising number of new friends that I didn't realize I needed.
Here are some of my favorite pictures that Jessica took on each hike and a little information about each one. I can't wait for the next one. I'm also sharing my hiking bucket list below!
Sharp Top Mountain - This was the first hike I got to go on back in January and I had no idea what to expect. To say it was incredible would be doing the whole thing a terrible injustice. In fact, the girls kept laughing at me because I just kept saying that it was the "best day ever" all day long. I started off the day only knowing Jessica and ended it feeling like I had been friends with everyone for a long time. This was a pretty emotional day for different reasons for each lady there and it was absolutely perfect.
Raven Rocks - The second hike I was able to make it to was back in April to Raven Rocks in Bluemont. We crossed the Virginia-West Virginia line at one point, we watched some other climbers repel down the rock wall below, and we had the most insane view to look over while we ate our lunch.
Buzzard Rock - We hiked Buzzard Rock in September and this hike was extra special because I convinced my bestie to join us! We also had two dogs along on this hike and you all know how much I love a dog!
To say the hiking bug has bit me would be a huge understatement. I've caught myself dreaming of new places to hike often. Here's a little list I've put together of hikes I'm determined to go on in the next year or so. Let me know if you've done any of them!
To Jessica: Thank you times a million for creating this group, for opening your heart to each of us and sharing your love of the outdoors. Thank you for pushing me to stand on scary ledges to take once-in-a-lifetime pictures. Thank you for documenting these memories for us. Thank you for being an amazing friend and helping me accomplish my goals. Love you to pieces and so happy to know you!