I just returned home from leading my 2nd ever WILD Women Experience. It’s a weekend to get women out of their comfort zones, to be empowered together, to experience new things, and to dive into self-reflection with the guidance of Mother Nature herself. It’s a weekend to grow as an individual (and a group) through real discussion, challenging moments and uncontrollable laughter.
This trip to Lassen National Forest was set months ago for a winter wonderland get-away. I envisioned women gracefully gliding on cross country skis through the fields of Child’s Meadow and feeling the fluff of freshly fallen snow under their snow shoes as we hiked up Brokeoff Mountain. Then after a day learning new skills and playing in the snow, we would cuddle up by a cozy fire and learn and laugh and grow together. Well… it went something like that…
Norcal has been in a dry spell all winter. We’ve had warm temps and no precipitation at all. So, those visions of fluffy snow were just that, visions. The week before the retreat Lassen had some hard packed icy fields at high elevations with brown grassy fields all around. Not exactly the winter wonderland I’d hoped for. But.. just like life.. we can’t choose the hands we are dealt and we have to make the most of what we’ve got.
A group of 9 women carpooled from Chico, CA to Mineral, CA up the winding mountain hwy 32. We arrived at the cabin and immediately all fell in love with our new “home” for the weekend. Cindy, the owner of the cabin and new member of the WILD Women Tribe, welcomed us with open arms and toasty fire! After introductions and getting to know eachother a bit better, instead of cross country skiing in the snow-less meadows, we all packed in the car and headed to hike Spencer Meadow Trail. As I led the women uphill for 2.8 miles there was nothing but positive chatter, moments of awe and of course more laughter. We arrived at my destination point of the granite outcropping overlooking the valley floor and immediately all the women saw the vastness of the country we were in – perspective on how small we really are in this world. We each found our own spot on the rocks and took some time to sit. To just be with ourselves and our thoughts and once again, have Mother Nature guide us.
With the temperature and the sun starting to drop, I knew we had to get back down to the truck. So we took off. Jen (camp cook) pushed through some physical challenges on the way up, but we were all chasing her on the way down. She led us down the mountain with plenty of time to beat the darkness. On our way back to the cabin, the girls wanted to stop in to see Highlands Ranch Lodge and Resort (a recently redone lodge sitting in Child’s Meadow). We all grabbed a drink and sat by the massive rock fireplace as we continued to bond.
Upon our return to the cabin, Cindy once again had the home fire burning, Jen started prepping a delicious dinner and I led the ladies through a much needed stretching session. Again, full of laughter and undeniable tight hips!
With full bellies, warm hearts and tired legs, we all headed to bed for an 8-10 hour night sleep! WHAT!?! Yes… when you escape the hustle and bustle of life and the feeling of needing to do things and constantly be on and go, then your body will rest and relax and sleep! The two women who told me they rise between 4:30 and 5 every morning were the last two up at 8am! 🙂
The ladies rose to the smell of coffee and Jen’s amazing cooking again. Caffeinated and fed, we launched into a group discussion/journaling session about real shit. About being in the moment, finding your why, body image, loss of self, rediscovery of self, goal setting (or not), being enough, and so much more. As women we put so much damn pressure on ourselves to serve everyone around us and make sure everyone else is take care of, then we take care of ourselves. We all know that when we switch that order and care for ourselves first we are better at serving those around us, we just need to be reminded once in awhile!
Next… snow shoeing! I was bound and determined to have these girls experience snow. We headed into Lassen National Park and luckily the 24 hour storm that hit earlier in the week was enough to give us the feeling of winter. The sky was a rich blue, the sun was shining down warmth, it was going to be a perfect day for a hike in the mountains. Only one of the women had snow shoed before (and only one time), so it was a new experience for all of them. We had the lesson of strapping on the shoes, setting up the poles and then took off up Brokeoff Mountain. The girls did phenomenal, enjoyed the climb and conquered their new skill!
With the clanking of snow shoes, imprints of pole strikes and a topless shout out out to the world, we left our WILD mark in Lassen National Park.
Back to the cabin we did a little workout as a group followed by hot cocoa (some Kalua and Peppermint Schnapps may have snuck in). With warm mugs in hand, we headed out to the fire pit to tell stories and enjoy the stars lighting up the sky. Jen slaved in the kitchen again to refuel us with a bomb dinner of burgers, salad and sweet potatoes. Cards, conversations and again laughter wrapped the night up. This night was a much later night though as the ladies seemed to not want the weekend to end (I know I didn’t).
The morning was filled with packing up gear, loading up trucks and heading back down the mountain. As we were already reminiscing from the last 2 days, I saw a car pulled over to the side of the hwy with fluid all around the pavement under her car. An older gentleman was trying to help the stranded women out. Turns out the hose to her cooling reservoir was broken. He asked if we had a wire or hanger, as he thought he could temporarily secure it to get her down the hill. We didn’t have wire, but after some inspection, Sarah and I jury-rigged a fix with hair ties! WILD Women to the rescue!
The ironic part is, that after the 1st WILD women we also had to do mechanic work on my truck (via FaceTime with Marcus’ help) to get down the mountain on the last day. I hope this isn’t a continuous thing!
The weekend was a success. Some ways exactly how I expected and some ways in which I didn’t. The women were fabulous, the cabin was perfect, and the wilderness never disappoints.
Mother Nature has a funny way of always working out exactly how she’s supposed to. Her plans may not fit our plans. Her reality may not meet our expectations. She may decide we need to go left when we want to go right. And, in my experience, she’s always right. She leads us in the direction and down the path we need to go, even if we don’t immediately see the reasoning behind it. So, I challenge you to find your WILD place, go there often and keep your eyes peeled to join us on the next WILD Women Experience!