A Lot of Nature and a Little Bit of Change
Change is never an easy thing to transition to; it can be intimidating and challenging, especially when we love how things are. But, as much as we might want to resist, change has an incredible ability to lead us to growth and new things to love.
This was just the position that founder, Nicole Brown, discovered herself in. Having been born and raised in Oregon, she was inherently graced with a love and appreciation for all the stunning outdoor beauty that comes with living in the Pacific Northwest. From the diverse ecosystem to the sprawling mountain ranges and the abundant and vibrant greenery, she was an avid partaker of outdoor activities.
It was just after her high school graduation that Nicole found herself leaving the familiarity of her longtime home in Oregon and relocating to the warm and energetic coastal region of Southern California.
While both regions sit along the west coast region of the US, there’s no denying the vast differences between the two. Southern California offered its own beauties, from the warm, sunny weather to the miles of beaches, along with fast cars and a fast pace of life.
She may have been headed for a fresh start, but Nicole’s love of all things outdoors quickly helped her adapt to all that Southern California had to offer. Acclimating to her new life didn’t mean she needed to acclimate to entirely new hobbies and interests. There was plenty that California had to offer, so Nicole decided she would begin scouting out new trails, hikes, and campsites.
Nicole devoted her weekends to seeking out these new experiences, embracing California’s warm and energetic atmosphere. But it ultimately turned into something bigger, when she began documenting the trails she was finding.
Having come to California and having to start fresh with finding trails and sites and places to hike, Nicole recognized a need to share this information. There would be thousands of people moving to California every year, just like her. People looking to find out just what the region had to offer. What if she could connect with them, sharing her love of the outdoors with others?
Nicole recognized a need- a need for a community of like-minded individuals, with similar interest and appreciations. She also wanted her community to step away from the blind commercialization that was overwhelming the social media presence of similar accounts. How would she be able to draw a more authentic and genuine community without the overprocessed and filtered outlets that currently existed?
The Start of a Movement
The outdoors offer a wealth of benefits, which is where she decided to focus her program: mental clarity and wellbeing, physical fitness and health, exploration and new adventures, connecting with family, friends and strangers. She wanted to bring all of these into one experience.
As she worked to create her own unique and authentic platform, Nicole’s began working to find ways to connect to and inspire women like herself. Thus, in 2015, came the inspiration for her first big project. The 52 Hike Challenge was centered around going on one hike every week for an entire year.
While on these hikes, Nicole found herself introduced to a diversity of women while out on the trails. Hearing the stories and experiences of others, brought together in this one common ground of the outdoors, was a story that needed to be shared. There was something about the outdoors that brought out some incredible and inspiring stories of the women Nicole met, stories that needed to be shared.
From the Trails to the Internet
Nicole looked to Facebook to help share these stories. It provided a commonplace for the unique experiences and life stories of the women Nicole was introduced to. This was the authenticity she was hoping for! Real women, sharing real stories, not filtered and edited adaptations of life.
More women became involved in the group, and it quickly grew into a global movement. Nicole’s following grew from the California coast, north to Alaska and Canada, and even as far as Australia. The women were able to share their own story, to feel heard amongst a group, a community of their own making. At the same time, each women was able to take inspiration from the stories of others. It became more empowering by the day.
It became known as WWH, Women Who Hike. Plain and simple, but powerful, inspirational, and motivating. The powerful encouragement from a community of women promoting mental and physical health and wellness opened had a tremendous impact on those in the group.
To expand the impact of the group, Nicole began interviewing various members, in an effort to create ambassadors to help her spread the positivity and grow the community even more. The more women they could reach, the bigger the impact the community would have.
And that’s just what happened. Today, the group currently has over 300,000 followers, each sharing their experiences, seeking inspiration, and empowering others.
The Power of Empowerment
Part of what makes Women Who Hike such a strong program is the emphasis on Nicole’s dreams for the group. This wasn’t just about hiking and being outdoors. It wasn’t just about finding new trails and something to do on a Saturday morning. It wasn’t about posting pictures or telling stories.
The movement is more than that. It’s about finding healing in the outdoors. It’s about connecting with women and building friendships and communities. It’s about finding the support system, for hiking but also for life. It’s a movement that has inspired and influenced women’s lives on the trail just as much as off of the trail.
The focus is on positivity, empowerment, betterment, and support, and it’s a code of ethics that the women of the group maintain. In a world that can feel isolating and lonely, WWH brings these women together with a common love of the outdoors, and helps them find a sense of belonging with other women.
There’s no negativity, no bullying, no shaming of other women. The women are inclusive, but maintain a set of ethics and standards, and one must be brought in to the Facebook group. They promote positivity, and they support one another. Since the group is private and individuals must be invited and accepted in, there’s a controlled safe space provided for all the participants. Mutual respect is a huge part of having a safe, positive, and supportive community.
Growing, Influencing, and Strengthening the Reach of WWH
Women Who Hike has had tremendous influences on thousands of women, which is exactly why it deserves to be shared and showcased. The impact on those in the community has been incredible, and it’s a program worthy of recognition.
Currently, its founder, Nicole, has been facing personal challenges as she battles autoimmune diseases, including lupus. She herself has seen the healing nature of the outdoors, as she’s struggled with her own health. Nicole has spent years building this group from the ground up, and it’s incredible to see what her program has done for women across the world.
To learn more about Women Who Hike, or if you’re looking to join the movement yourself and find yourself in a truly supportive community: