Women In Nature brave the cold on winter hike

A group of intrepid women from Wright State University are heading south to Athens, Ohio, this weekend for a six-mile winter hike on the Grandma Gatewood Trail in Hocking Hills State Park. The hike is part of the Women In Nature program, or WIN, which seeks to involve women in outdoor pursuits and help them find other women who share their interests.

The inspiration for the WIN programs was simple. “We just said it would be cool to do outdoor things for women. Specifically for women,” says Amber Vlasnik, director of the Women’s Center. She says sometimes it is easier to introduce women to new activities in an all-female group.

For instance, she says, if they haven’t been rock climbing before, it can feel different for some women to learn how to rock climb with other women instead of in a coed group.

Amy Anslinger, the assistant director of outdoor recreation at the Outdoor Resource Center, agrees.

“There are some things women are less likely to go out and do on their own,” she says. “They might think oh, I might need a guy to go do this with me.”

She says one of the goals of WIN is to give women a foundation of skills that will enable them to participate in wilderness activities with confidence.

WIN is sponsored by the Outdoor Resource Center, the Wellness and Recreation Committee, and the Women’s Center. The first WIN event was held last spring, after organizers secured a grant funded by the Ohio Department of Health, Office of Healthy Ohio, Bureau of Health Promotion and Risk Reduction, Violence and Injury Prevention Program, and the Wright State Center for Healthy Communities AHEC Region IV.

It’s not just students who are invited to participate in WIN.

Jennifer Turpin, the assistant director of fitness and wellness and a member of the Wellness and Recreation Committee, says one of her favorite things about the WIN program is the interaction between students, faculty and staff.

“I think it’s a neat mentoring opportunity for students to see faculty and staff who are still active and finding ways to be involved,” Turpin says.

Participants will have to be pretty active. Hocking Hills’ Grandma Gatewood Trail is a long hike with some steep stairs, and it promises to be one chilly day.  Still, Anslinger says it will be worth the long van ride to Athens and the chilly weather.

“I think if you’re going to go hiking,” she says, “the Grandma Gatewood Trail is probably the most scenic six miles in Ohio.”

When hikers return from their trek, there will be hot chili to coax the warmth back into their bones.

If someone does happen to slip on the ice, Anslinger says the trip leaders are all certified in wilderness first aid and CPR. The leaders are all student workers in the Outdoor Resource Center, who are accustomed to rough hikes and who practice leave-no-trace backwoods ethics.

Though it’s a little late to register for this WIN event, the organizers say they are planning one WIN event every quarter.

Past events have included an autumn campout in Germantown MetroPark and a multi-sport event in the Student Union.

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