A blend of on-your-own hikes and virtual events kicked off Trailtessa events in 2021. Our planning focused on slowing the spread of COVID-19 and keeping participants safe. Happily, many new and seasoned Trailtessa attendees (325 in fact!) joined us for these adventures. As fall approached, we offered two outdoor in-person events, enabling participants to be together, build camaraderie, and still maintain social distance.
Read on for our re-cap of Trailtessa Events in 2021!
Be BLISSFUL: Virtual Happy Hour and On-Your-Own Snowshoe Hike
First, experts offered winter hiking and snowshoeing tips, gear, and clothing recommendations. Happy Hour (virtual) attendees also received Ice Age Trail segment suggestions for launching their snowy exploration. Then, a few weeks later, these brave souls greeted a cold, sunny weekend with a hike or snowshoe. Encouraged to be resilient and nourish body and spirit with fresh-air time outdoors, they adventured independently or in small groups composed of family and friends.
Be HAPPY: Virtual Happy Hour and Introduction to Hiking the Ice Age Trail
During Tuesday evenings in May, 63 seasoned and novice hiking enthusiasts Zoomed, listening to amazing personal accounts of adventurous, Ice Age Trail hikers. Spellbound, they enjoyed tales from Trail Mama, Kathy Vincent, the first female thru-hiker. Author and record-holder, Melanie McManus, also inspired. She set the first female Fastest Known Time record on the Trail, and then two years later, ran it from the other direction. A panel of Thousand-Milers offered plenty of ideas and advice, having finished the Trail as thru-hikers or segment hikers. The final Happy Hour featured hiker safety tips for women provided by REI staff and UW-Whitewater Campus Police.
Be BRIGHT: On-Your-Own Summer Solstice Hike
During this on-your-own hiking event, women celebrated the Summer Solstice – June 20 – hiking 20 miles on the Ice Age Trail. Setting their course on the longest day of the year, they hiked on their own or as a team, combining miles to experience summer’s joy, wonder, and extended daylight on the Trail.
Be TOGETHER: Seed Collecting
Our first in-person Trailtessa Retreat since March 2020 was a time to reconnect, volunteer, network, and build community. It was an afternoon of togetherness and environmental stewardship along the Table Bluff Segment in Dane County. Attendees learned more about biodiversity – why a variety of species, habitats, and ecosystems are so crucial to a healthy planet – and how seed collecting helps support it. Teri Helmke, Director of Employee Health Services with Dean Health Plan, led the conversation about how time in nature benefits our wellness. This event also honored National Public Lands Day and Wisconsin Land Trust Days.
Be FIERCE: Backpacking 101
This three-day event geared towards first-time backpackers invited women to hike nearly 25 miles in the Kettle Moraine State Forest – Northern Unit. Seasoned mentors, Sharon Dziengel and Natalie Dorrer-Hyde, planned and led the event, willingly sharing their passion and expertise. Although chilly, the days were dry. Fall foliage offered a colorful backdrop. Lots of laughs and a few blisters created a memorable experience as newbies learned to navigate the Trail with 80-pound packs.