HikeUnited21 : A Month of Trails

#25 of my 52 Hike Challenge

Trail/Park: Elouise Butler Wildflower Garden and Quaking Bog Trail, Theodore Wirth Regional Park

I want to acknowledge this hike took place on the traditional territory of the Wahpekute and Očhéthi Šakówiŋ. To learn more about the tribes and these lands, please follow the links provided.

Trash Collected: 0.2 pounds


I’ve been looking forward to the day when I could participate in an official hike with members of Women Who Hike Minnesota again. Sure there have been a few hikes I’ve done with friends I’ve met through the group. But nothing official since January of 2020. I was really excited to see this announcement come into my inbox.

Women Who Hike has always been a group focused on being inclusive of female identifying members as well as making sure all feel welcome in the places we recreate. Over the past year when we couldn’t get out on trail as groups we spent time lifting up voices in our community. We doubled down on our commitments to inclusivity. We’ve worked to uplift marginalized voices, to be active in advocating for our outdoor spaces and to continue unlearning and learning. As an Ambassador for the Minnesota chapter, I’ve made it a personal responsibility to be sure our community has space for hard conversations without becoming hostile.

 “Nature can be a bridge to healing, conversation and understanding,” said Teresa Baker, founder of the In Solidarity Project. “That is the hope we have for this hiking campaign. Bringing together the outdoor community to show a collective commitment of unity for the protection of our planet and one another.”

When we got word we could officially hike together again, the plans were made to help kick off a month of #HikeUnited21 with a hike at one of our favorite places, Theodore Wirth Regional Park. It’s a group favorite and provided what we hoped would be easy access by all means of transit. Originally planned for August 1, we had to postpone due to the smoke that settled over Minnesota from the Canadian wildfires.

Rescheduled, we hiked on Saturday, August 14 with a smaller than expected group. There were opportunities for slowing down as we explored the trails around the Elouise Butler Wildflower Garden and the garden itself. A younger member of our group was fascinated with the stages of pinecones and moving like a fox. The rest of us enjoyed sharing about the plants and trees we found along the way.

We headed from the wildflower garden to the Quaking Bog. The short path on floating boardwalk through the bog was its usual springy self despite the dry conditions this year. We marveled the way the bog is slowly covering the boardwalk, visitors keeping the vegetation from completely covering the surface.

As we headed back to the parking lot I was reminded again why I joined the group several years ago. Hikes with the women in the group fill my soul. The conversations are never the same and I’ve met so many wonderful people along the way. Being outside for a few hours with dirt under our feet leads to beautiful places.


The photo is taken from the shore of a lake. There are reeds in the foreground and the lake is mostly covered with water lily plants. Trees are seen in the background with a cloud filled, blue sky above.

#26 of my 52 Hike Challenge

Trail/Park: Jensen Lake Trail, Lebanon Hills Regional Park

I want to acknowledge this hike took place on the traditional territory of the Wahpekute and Očhéthi Šakówiŋ. To learn more about the tribes and these lands, please follow the links provided.

Trash Collected: 0.1 pounds

I think I’ve finally hit my stride with getting back to hiking. With my new job as well as the rollercoaster of COVID, getting out with groups has been a tough thing for me. It’s not that I don’t want to hike. Its finding the time and re-learning to be ok hiking with people I don’t know. As I was scrolling through the events in the Women Who Hike MN group, I noticed one for a date and time that finally worked for me. One of the members I’ve been hoping to meet was the hike host so there was even more reason to attend!

I was up early enough to get myself breakfast before deciding, very last minute, to take my backpacking pack. I’ve recently acquired a small backpacking tent and knew it would give me a good idea of how much the pack weighs with my gear inside. I quickly moved things from my daypack I would take on a longer hike and off I went to meet the group.

Photos by Ruth’s Blue Marble, Molly and Carol

On arrival at the park I discovered I’d not put the address, but the location mentioned in the post into my GPS. I was at the opposite end of the park. So I texted the rest of the group I was on my way. They were wonderful to wait for me. Our small group of six headed out for what ended up being about a three and a half mile hike. The weather was gorgeous with big fluffy clouds overhead and light breeze. After what seems like months of near 100 degree weather it was truly a perfect day.

We stopped often. We spent time chatting one-on-one with each member of the group. We came across folks on horseback and saw kayakers on the lake. There were boardwalks and dirt. Serious conversation and laughter. Sharing tips and suggestions for hiking footwear, packs and more. One of our group got separated from the rest so we split up to find her. The caring and generosity of spirit was obvious even though several of us had just met. All of this reinforcing why I became a Women Who Hike Ambassador. Why I love hiking. Hikers form community where they are, where there wasn’t one before.

Back at the trailhead the group wanted to see what I was carrying in my pack so I slowly unpacked it for them, noting each item and what I’d normally carry in my daypack if I’d brought it instead. They asked questions and shared their own ideas for gear. As I packed it all back up, we said our goodbyes. I took my pack to the car, grabbing my sketchbook and heading back near the lake for a little drawing session before I left the park.

As I was leaving I came upon a mom and her young son who had passed me a little earlier as I sketched. They hadn’t gone very far. Her son was busy filling his pockets with rocks and acorns, pointing out whatever caught his attention. She was simply enjoying his curiosity, encouraging it. It reminded me of all the miles and trails I’ve covered with my own son. Passing them I noticed a small garter snake along the edge of the trail. I called out to them to come and see it. Such simple things, reminders of the importance of being outside.

Photo is of a pastel sketch made at Jensen Lake in Lebanon Hills Regional Park by Ruth. In the background is the scene which includes many trees surrounding a lake covered in large swaths of water lilies.

Next Post Preview: I’ll take you on a little overnight adventure which took me across the mighty Mississippi and back.


GEAR: Merrell Women’s Siren 3 Mid Waterproof, REI Co-op XeroDry GTX Jacket, Columbia® Women’s Arcadia II Rain Jacket, REI Co-op 650 Down Jacket, REI Co-op Rainier Full Zip Rain Pant, REI Co-op Essential Rain Pants, Marmot Kompressor Pack, SPOT GEN3 Satellite GPS Messenger, Dueter Dirtbag, Kula Cloth, Leki Women’s Micro Vario Cor-Tec TA trekking poles, ENO DoubleNest Hammock with Atlas Straps, Guardian Bug Net and Pro Rainfly, Slumberjack 2-person tent with footprint, Paria Thermodown 30 down quilt, REI Flash 3-Season Sleeping Pad, Thermarest Z Seat™, Z Lite™ Sleeping Pad, Thermarest Z Seat™, MSR Pocket Rocket Stove, GSI Pinnacle Dualist Cookset, MSR® IsoPro™ Fuel. Want to know more about my gear selections? Head on over to Gear & Gadgets or check out my posts titled “Gear in Review”.

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Photo of a group of hikers on a sunny day in a field heading towards a wooded area. The photographer has taken the photo from behind the group.

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