Two backpacking retreats. Less than one week apart. Twenty-plus women who had never backpacked.
Could we do it? Were we crazy to try?
Yes and hell yes.
When my co-guide Angelique and I first launched Simply Wild, a women’s backpacking retreat in the remote, rugged backcountry of Canyonlands National Park, we knew that it was going to change women’s lives. No question. Our first retreat last October was more magical and more powerful than we even expected, and it confirmed what we already knew: that we had to do another one!
About a month after our first Simply Wild backpacking retreat last year, we announced our dates for our April 2020 retreat. The retreat sold out within a week!
This time around, rather than having the women return from the backcountry, scarf down lunch back at the condo, and rush to rinse off the dirt and stink so they could hurry to catch flights home, we added an extra night at the condo in Moab. This way, everyone could have enough
time to eat lunch, shower, and unpack their backpacks. Plus, this gave me more time to do healing work with the women.
But when we began ramping up for our retreat back in January, we never could have imagined that in less than four months, our permits would get canceled and our April retreat would get postponed—all because of a worldwide pandemic.
After a couple of months, we decided to move our April retreat to the end of September. While last year’s retreat took place during a freak cold front with chilly nighttime temperatures below freezing, our September retreat was faced with a completely different challenge: hot daytime temperatures.
Thankfully, we worked closely with our amazing sponsors to ensure we had the right gear and food for the hot temperatures, and our support team was prepared to bring in more water and snacks to offset the effects of the heat. We also chose to start our hikes in the dark, with the moon as our protector and our trail lit by the glow of our headlamps and our solar lights from LuminAid.
Neither a pandemic nor above average temperatures could stop the healing from happening. With all the chaos and the noise this year, people are craving the quiet power of nature more now than ever. That coupled with the uniting force of sisterhood created a unique space in the wilderness where the challenges of our retreat were simply metaphors for life. As one of the women from the retreat said, “Simply Wild 2020 – one of the most incredible and eye-opening experiences of my life. I came out of the desert with a renewed sense of ME.”
In addition to leaving with a renewed sense of self, the women also left with 11 new friends they once saw as strangers but now consider to be more like sisters. Angelique and I left the retreat with only three days to recharge, regroup, and repack before heading off to host our October
Simply Wild retreat.
To say Simply Wild has changed my life would be an understatement. When I wanted to run and hide, this place, these women, this experience brought me back. I cannot express enough gratitude for what these retreats have done for me and for my family. I see these women healing and helping and loving. I see my sweet Jeff serving these women and helping and believing in my dreams. I see my dear Regan wanting her own Simply Wild retreat and it brings me so much pride! My heart grows every single time I go out there.
This place. There’s a reason we come back here. Same place. Same destination. Different experience every single time. Even for me, who has been on this journey 4 times now. You can learn more about Canyonlands here. We disconnect from the world, from our phones, from our families in order to reconnect to the dirt, the sun, the moon, to our higher self. And every single time that allows us to go back stronger and more determined to connect with our life and our family at home. Oh the moment I return to my babies is a wild frenzy and we just love it. We spend days doing nothing but connecting. And yes I wish every day of the year we connected more to our family, I truly do. But what I’ve learned is we’re so distracted by our every day life that sometimes it takes a trip to the wild to recenter ourselves. It is so damn beautiful.
These women. They will forever be a part of me. And I think they will forever be a part of each other. The amazing thing is, we all come to the wild to find peace, strength, healing…for ourselves. But the magic behind healing together is this unbreakable bond and connection. Women are so beautiful. Every single one. I am so honored to know them.
During Simply Wild we meditate, we do yoga, we burn our fears and find the inner strength to keep going. And while the healing is so individual to their needs and desires it is amazing to see each and every hand join together to lift you up. We join our hands together to pray, to comfort, to receive light and I get to witness it each time. Learn more about what you get when you come to a Simply Wild retreat.
This experience has surpassed what I could have imagined it to be. It has grown past my wildest dreams and I am so proud. Each trip into the wild reminds me to stay grounded, to stay connected, to stay wild.
I need to give a shout out to my girl Angelique. This woman is incredible and I love her fiercely. She introduced me to the wild and has been my partner during each Simply Wild retreat. You can learn more about her in this post.
Now to announce Simply Wild for 2021! If you have felt the tug in your heart to join us for a Simply Wild retreat please know that I want you there too! I wish I could take everyone into the wild, I really do. The limited number allows us more one on one time, it allows for the healing that needs to take place. So please please sign up quickly to reserve your spot for the April 2021 Simply Wild retreat! The spots fill up fast!