Do you let fear keep you from doing something that has the potential for awesomeness? Self doubt is most definitely not a friend. Ambassador Michelle writes about how she almost let self doubt get in the way of a trip of a lifetime, but instead pushed it aside.

Don’t ever let self-doubt and fear hold you back. The Wyoming Office of Tourism sponsored a backpacking trip for HLAW Ambassadors. Of course, everyone wanted to go and there were a limited number of spots. So, we were asked to apply and 4 would be selected. I almost did not apply because I doubted my abilities. Not only as an outdoor woman, but as a woman able to hang out with other women for a week. I was excited, yet terrified at the same time. I knew I would forever regret not applying. So, I did. But my anxiety was over the top.

Stop on the drive to our hike.

The Snowys. I had never been on a hiking adventure outside my neck of the woods here in Eastern Tennessee. I’d never hiked above 6500 feet or so of elevation. I’d never really been out West, let alone hiked and backpacked there. Wyoming seemed some distant, unapproachable place. I’d also never backpacked with a group of women. Let alone women I’d never met in person.

At the Saratoga Hot Springs Resort the night before the trip

Enter Fear. I was daunted by the prospect of meeting these women in person. All being Ambassadors for Hike Like A Woman, we had been chatting online for 6 months or so. Yet, none of us had met in person. What If they don’t like me or I don’t like them? What if i talk too much or talk too little? What if say stupid stuff or stick my foot in my mouth? What if I get on their nerves or they get on mine? On and on. An endless cycle of self-doubt.

Hiking to the peak

On our adventure there was Wyoming’s own HLAW leader and creator; Rebecca Walsh, Elisa Rispoli from New Jersey, Stephanie Mullins from Colorado, Gretchen Elizabeth from New Mexico and me from Tennessee. I was the oldest at 53, the other ages vary, but most are in their 30’s. I think. Some are mothers, some are not. Some have established careers, some do not. Some work at home, some outside the home and some work raising their kiddos. Some have little kids, some have grown kids. Some have backpacked before, some have not. We are a fairly diverse group of women.

These women. These women are amazing. All my qualms were for naught. Even if I did get on their nerves or they mine. (Which they didn’t, but I’m sure I did) It didn’t matter. This is an accepting a bunch of women as I have ever been around. Each one was exactly as she had represented herself online and accepts others exactly how they present themselves.

Which I find a great testament to Hike Like A Woman and what Rebecca has created. We are not a bunch of fake women, trying to impress the world. We are normal, (whatever that is), everyday women who love to get outdoors and want to see other women empowered to do the same. We are no more or less special than each and every woman out there doing her thang. What we share online and in person is real.

We are vulnerable, self-deprecating, bold, funny, confident, uncertain and brave. We are tall, short, heavy, slim, ridiculously beautiful and breathtakingly plain. Every woman should be able to Hike Like A Woman with confidence in her abilities and place in the outdoor world. The wild outside is the great equalizer. We all face the same challenges and dangers in the wild. Male or female, young or old. The wind, weather and elevation gain don’t care. Our strengths and weaknesses balance each other. Shared struggles lead to shared joy at the challenge conquered.

Bridger Peak

Wyoming you are amazing. The landscape is so diverse and varied. We drove and hiked through sagebrush prairies, sparse lodge pole pine forests, sub-alpine meadows and dense forest.

The views from Bridger Peak and the high spots we traveled through were awe inspiring. Rows and rows of mountains. Miles and miles of prairie. Wide open blue skies. I’m still tingly when I revisit the mountain top experiences.

Having fun with mustachios and bananas

We had our share of adversity. Namely, mosquitoes on the first day. But we soldiered on and were rewarded with a gorgeous, mosquito free day after our overnight camp. We relaxed and chilled high above the world at about 10k of elevation. On the hike down and out, we laughed and chatted and all the discomfort of the previous day was forgotten. Well, mostly.

The ride back to the lodge was a spectacular journey on a forest service road through the middle of the prairie. The mountains loomed ahead with a storm breaking loose and lightning flashing from sky to ground. This East Tennessee girl was enthralled by the Wyoming beauty.

I’ll be back. And to think I almost let fear keep me away. I would have missed the adventure of a lifetime and the company of these incredible women.

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