Group walks empower women to explore nature

Nov 11, 2018

On November 11, women (and two dogs) gathered at the Frank Knowles/Little River Reserve, off Potomska Rd., for a 3.4 mile hike defined by companionship and togetherness.

Many women feel nervous about hiking alone. The Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust wanted to help women overcome their fear and feel safe in nature, so they began a series of Women’s Walks on the second Sunday of each month. Every walk, guided by a DNRT staff member, is held at a different one of the land trust’s properties.

Leah Howard, the trust’s Land Steward, led the way with her German Shepherd, Ash, whom she said she adopted partially to cope with that same fear.

“Nature is such a healing place,” Howard said. “I understand that fear and I want to help women out.”

The walks, which were prompted by the large response to an article the trust shared on Facebook about women who were nervous to hike alone, have received a lot of support and enthusiasm. Many women said they wanted to explore the trust’s extensive properties, but didn’t have anyone who wanted to go with them.

The first hike had about 12 attendees, the second had 18, and the November hike had about 20 hikers. Howard said that each hike has had some familiar and some new faces.

This was Verena Lisinski’s second Women’s Walk.

“A lot of times, I tried to find a friend, but I couldn’t,” Lisinski said about hiking on the trails.

She said that she has met new friends to hike with through the organized walks.

“It’s camaraderie, that you get to know people and chit-chat,” Lisinski said.

Kathy Groh, another hiker, agreed, “You know that you sort of have similar interests because you wanted to do this.”

Groh and Lisinski said they appreciated Howard’s guidance. Throughout the walk, Howard educated the hikers about how to differentiate between types of oak trees, the importance of salt marsh habitats, and the fact that there are both male and female holly bushes.

“Nature is an artist,” Howard said. “I like to go out and enjoy her work.”

The next Women’s Walk will be held on December 9 at 10 a.m. at the Parsons Reserve.