As the 2016 Wilderness Heals comes to a close, I want to say thank you. Thank you for taking time out of your schedule to train for the hike, thank you for speaking about domestic violence, mental illness and homelessness, thank you for educating friends, family and strangers on the work of the Elizabeth Stone House. Thank you for choosing to participate in this event. Thank you for being a part of the Wilderness Heals and Elizabeth Stone House family.



This group of women continues to amaze me year after year, and I love the opportunity to learn about each person’s story. This past weekend we dedicated our journey to the clients of the Stone House and raised the needed funds for the Elizabeth Stone House to continue in their work, to date we have raised almost 138,000.  This past weekend you made a difference and I hope you are proud of yourself, your team and the whole Wilderness Heals community.

Together we can move mountains.

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Thank you again for all of your hard work and making Wilderness Heals 2016 another amazing year! See you next year!


Happy Wilderness Heals Wednesday!


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My wishes for your weekend.

For me each Wilderness Heals is special in its own way, year after year there is something that sets it apart from the last. The views, the friendships, how I fundraised, my connection to the hike, the route, and so much more can set it apart from the rest. For me Wilderness Heals weekend is thinking about the clients of the Elizabeth Stone House and how their struggles are like climbing mountains everyday, connecting with other amazing women who also feel passionate about the work of the Elizabeth Stone House and reconnecting with myself and nature as a way of self care. As its a couple days before the event I am already feeling excited and inspired, and there is no better way to share my wishes to you than resharing a poem I wrote two years ago before the event.



I hope.

I hope that you are as excited for Wilderness Heals as I am.

I hope that your hard work training will pay off this weekend.

I hope that if you are a new hiker you will learn something about yourself.

I hope that if you are a veteran hiker that you will have a moment this weekend that will set this Wilderness Heals experience apart from the others.

I hope that you have packed everything you will need and want for the weekend and feel comforted that everything you need to survive in the woods is in your backpack.

I hope that you will learn something about a team member that surprises you.

I hope there are many surprises throughout the weekend.

I hope that the weather is beautiful, or if it is bad weather you find a way to appreciate its beauty.

I hope that you feel a sense of community with your team, donors and the individuals and families of the Elizabeth Stone House.

I hope that you take a moment for yourself away from the team to reflect on how this experience has impacted you.

I hope that you enjoy and take advantage of being disconnected from your normal life.

I hope that if you struggle at any point during the weekend, your team will support and help you push through.

I hope that you see beautiful mountain views.

I hope you enjoy delicious meals.

I hope that you are patient and flexible if there is a change in the plan.

I hope that you learn something new this weekend.

I hope there is singing.

I hope there is laughing.

I hope that this weekend exceeds any expectations you have.

I hope you know by participating in this fundraiser you are changing lives.

I hope you  know we are bringing awareness to substance abuse, domestic violence and homelessness.

I hope you know that without you, this fundraiser wouldn’t be as successful.


Thank you for following along this year on the blog, we will have one more post after the hike but please look through for fundraising ideas, as I know many of us continue our fundraising efforts after the three day event. Have such a great weekend and I look forward to seeing you all on Friday morning, or if you could not participate with us this year, we will carry you along with us in our thoughts as we climb mountains!

Together we can move mountains!




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Why I keep coming back to the mountains.

There are many reasons why I hike and keep going back to the mountains.

I hike because some days I need a walking meditation and a chance to clear my mind.

I hike because I can’t check email, Facebook or texts and sometimes its good to get away from these everyday stressors.

I hike because sometimes I don’t feel great about myself and after climbing a mountain I feel so proud at what I have accomplished.

I hike because whoever I hike with could be a stranger and I could feel like family by the end of the day, or I could hike with a friend and really have a chance to deepen our friendship.


I hike because it is an amazing feeling to have everything you need to survive on your back.

I hike because I get a chance to reconnect with nature and myself.

I hike because food tastes better in the woods.

I hike because my only job for the day is to take care of myself and keep walking.

I hike because the hiker community is so thoughtful, friendly and caring.

I hike because each time I learn something new about myself.

I hike for the views that a photo will never replace.



Quick Reminder: The  Mandatory Safety and Logistics Meeting is on Sunday July 10 from 2:45PM-5PM at The Grand Circle Foundation (347 Congress St, Boston), SEE YOU THEN!!


Thank you for letting me share the reasons why I love to hike! What are your reasons you keep coming back to the mountains?

Happy Wilderness Heals Wednesday!


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Prep Time!

We have 16 days until the three day event!

11 days until we meet everyone participating at the Safety and Logistics Meeting!

7 days until you find out what team you will be on!

And most of all I am looking forward to 3 days in the White Mountains with amazing women!

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This year we have a lot of new hikers participating in Wilderness Heals so I wanted to let you know what to expect from the three day event and some tips to prepare.

Preparation is key! I know the night before Wilderness Heals I am always excited and have last minute things I need to pack so I don’t sleep much, but, I HIGHLY recommend trying to pack early. I have even heard of women packing before the Safety and Logistics Meeting so they are all set and don’t have anything to stress out about before the event. This is a great idea, because then if there is any piece of gear you need to borrow from someone you can get it from them at the meeting and reduce any extra runs out to get gear or buy new stuff.

Don’t Forget List! Make a don’t forget list, to go along with a printed checklist of required gear for the three day (this is different than the training hike gear list. I also recommend double checking the list in the morning before you leave so you pack your car with everything.  Your “Don’t Forget List” should include items such as hiking boots, snacks and lunches, sunscreen, bug spray (the bugs are extra bad this year because of the mild winter), medications you need etc. This may sound silly, but hiking boots have been forgotten and so do what you need to do to remember them and tie them to your pack or pre pack your car the night before.

Get excited. You will have three days in the woods and will be spending it with other amazing women that are passionate about hiking and supporting the Stone House. This event brings the most amazing women together and every year feels like it was better than the previous year. Use these three days to relax and recharge from your busy life and reconnect with nature and yourself. I always like to think of hiking as a walking meditation because I think it really does help clear your mind and stresses you are experiencing.

Be Proud. You have worked so hard to raise money for the Elizabeth Stone House and you have trained to climb mountains for three days. The community of supporters (you!) are an amazing group to be a part of and I hope you feel a connection to the Elizabeth Stone House over the weekend. We are physically climbing mountains for the weekend, but also take a moment to think about the metaphorical mountains that clients of the Elizabeth Stone House are overcoming everyday to get back on their feet. You are making a change that you wish to see in the world!

I am so excited for the weekend and look forward to meeting all of you at the Safety and Logistics Meeting on Sunday July 10!

Happy Wilderness Heals Wednesday!


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An Interview with Caitlin Thornbrugh

Hi Caitlin! Thanks so much for taking time out of your schedule for this, I know you are a new hiker to Wilderness Heals and just had your first training hike this weekend so I would like to hear about your experience and find out how it all went for you!

Ashley: How long have you been hiking/ what is your experience level?

Caitlin: I have done only two hikes in the White Mountains but before that I have done some walks in Kansas and some hiking in Cambodia. This last winter a guy friend took me on my first winter hike and it was also my first time using microspikes! We stayed over at Carter Notch hut and that is how we met!

A: This is true! I was hiking with some friends this winter at Carter Notch hut and we met and hit it off and then I got to tell you about this fundraising hike that I participate in and you immediately were excited to join! So other than me talking you into joining Wilderness Heals, why did you want to join Wilderness Heals?

C: I wanted to learn more about hiking. I also loved that it was a hike for women and with women because I have only hiked with predominantly with men. After hearing about what the Elizabeth Stone House does I wanted to get involved on a local level and by fundraising I am helping support their programs.

A: Where did you go for your training hike?

C: Mount Israel



A: What was something you were nervous about and something you were excited for your training hike?

C: I have mostly done day hikes so I was worried about my pack being heavy. It was definitely heavier than on my normal hikes, but it was definitely manageable. I was excited to meet new people and see other perspectives of why people participate. I was also excited to meet people who have hiked with WH before and hear about some of their experiences.

A: What was your high and low of the day?

C: My low was realizing that I might need new hiking boots and my high was everything else: the view, hiking and getting to hear people’s stories.

A:What was your favorite hiking snack?

C: Clara had shared a bite of Lasagna which was really good but my new hiking snack discovery and new love was corn nuts!

A: What piece of gear improved your hiking experience?

C: My new platypus and I was super impressed that I drank all of my 3L of water!

A: What were you most surprised about on your training hike?

C: I was excited to meet women of all different ages and also be able to have so many things in common with the women on my team and have the chance to hear about each person’s story. I wanted to do this hike to hike with women but I didn’t realize how amazing each person is and how much I have in common with everyone.

A:What are you looking forward to for the three day event?

C: I am looking forward to challenge my hiking skills, meeting new women and hearing their stories and seeing more of the White Mountains!

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5 Tips for Successful Fundraising

One month from today about 50 women will be meeting at the Riverside T stop to embark on their three-day Wilderness Heals event! The event is so close I feel like the next month is going to fly by and with that I want to cover something that is really the heart of the event and that is fundraising.

Wilderness Heals is a community that raises funds for the Elizabeth Stone House and each hiker is responsible to raise $1500. Now don’t worry or panic about fundraising, you have until September to complete your fundraising efforts but I find that it is easiest to do most of your fundraising before the actual event. It is a bit easier to tell your donors that you are going on a three day hike than that you have completed a three day hike and are looking to raise money. This is what works for me but plenty of folks don’t have time to fundraise before the event and still make it work.

I know for me the summer months are busy and filled with plans so I try to set goals for myself so that I check in with myself about my fundraising progress. So to maximize all of your donations I made a small check list of things you can do to make sure you are setup for successful fundraising.

  1. Create and make your fundraising page unique. You can write about your goals and what you want to get out of the challenge of hiking for three days and your fundraising, what the Elizabeth Stone House does, or a personal story. There are three reasons why people want to donate: they want to support you, they want to support the organization or they have a personal story or experience with domestic violence, homelessness, or knowing someone who needed services like the ones provided at ESH.
  2. Send out a fundraising email. This is a great way to remind folks (if you have already talked to them) or let a wider net of people know about your fundraising commitment and the hiking challenge you have taken on. Feel free to provide information or a link to the Elizabeth Stone House but definitely include the link directly to your fundraising page! A trick I find to be successful is to send out separate emails to people addressing them individually, it is much better than an email blast (and if you do this remember to bcc: folks so you don’t give away all of your friend’s and family’s email addresses.
  3. Host one event. I like to try and host at least one event to get people to come together and donate. You could host a 4th of July BBQ and charge a cover charge or a yoga class or a game night etc. Check the other FUNraising blog posts for more ideas.
  4. Set goals. Like I said earlier, it is best to set small goals for yourself, $1500 is a lot of money and so by breaking it up by a few months and trying to raise a set amount of money for that timeframe it will feel more manageable.
  5. Ask Everyone. This might be some of the hardest advice I give but after doing this for six years I truly know that asking everyone is an awesome way to maximize your fundraising efforts. You never know who will donate and so many times I have received donations from unexpected places. Ask your hair dresser, coworkers, neighbors, anyone, you never know their story and why they donate but it is an amazing feeling getting donations in unexpected places.

Hopefully these tips will help lead you on your way to a successful fundraising season. At the Elizabeth Stone House we are forever thankful for the money that is raised through Wilderness Heals, it makes up 10% of their budget for the year and these unrestricted funds are very important to making things happen that cannot be covered in grants.

Feel free to email me or comment if you have other ideas or have any fundraising questions for me!


Happy Wilderness Heals Wednesday!


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Snack Time!

Food on the trail is one of my favorite parts of hiking. Snacking throughout the day is so important and it is equally important to have a balance of what you are eating. A good balance includes protein, sugar, electrolytes and carbs make your hiking day more enjoyable and will help you climb those mountains! Recently, I have been hiking with a friend and she has made these protein packed energy balls that she has learned from this blog:

Check out the recipe from the blog post but to get an idea they contain: peanut butter (protein), protein powder, coffee (caffeine/energy), salt (electrolytes), chocolate (sugar, to give you that extra kick to get up the mountain) and some other yummy ingredients!

Another hiking snack/hydration idea I have for you could be used on the trail (which I recommend freezing and then allowing it to melt throughout the hike for a refreshing drink) or post hike to replenish all of the electrolytes you sweat out on your hike!


Watermelon chunks, cut
Coconut water
Mint leaves, washed

In a blender take all of the ingredients and blend together and until the consistently is similar to a smoothie, add more coconut water, watermelon or mint leaves to your liking and either freeze to take on the hike and allow it to melt or keep in your fridge until you get home to have as a refreshing electrolyte replenishing drink!
These ideas are super yummy and just the perfect balance of what every hiking snack needs! So what are some of your creative hiking snack ideas?

Happy Wilderness Heals Wednesday!


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