Mesmerizing retreats and unforgettable friendships can be forged on these adventures
A thick smell of coffee wafts through the air as the golden sun peaks its way through the Sierra Nevada Mountain range and after zipping up backpacks and lacing up boots, a bonded group of women are ready for the day’s excursion. California provides the nation with pine-dotted valleys, gemlike lakes and expansive overlooks, all of which can be marveled at throughout the entirety of a women’s backpacking trip.
REI corporation offers three days and two nights to a group of women looking to embark on a moderate backpacking trip along a spectacularly scenic section of the Pacific Crest Trail. Expert female guides will explain the native fauna and flora of the land while leading the group through mountain meadows and ridgelines tracing the edges of alpine lakes. It is recommended to have previous backpacking experience, and throughout the journey there will be many chances to float in lakes and enjoy a cup of hot cocoa under a star filled sky. An optional hike up the highest summit in the Klamath Mountains, Mount Eddy, is offered on the last day of the retreat and on a clear day, Mount McLoughlin in Oregon can be spotted while enjoying a victorious lunch at the top. Ultimately REI provides an experience which is “designed for women, guided by women” and presents the opportunity to be “with other women who enjoy the outdoors and understand the value of the environment.” (rei.com)
Sierra Mountain Center
Resting between the juniper trees of the Eastern Sierra for more than 40 years, the Sierra Mountain Center is the oldest and most established local guide service with a continuous owner who has excelled at providing personalized backpacking retreats. The moderately graded trails call for previous backpacking experience and an adventurous spirit, and the 1:5 ratio of guides to participants establishes a secure and hands-on learning environment. No matter the desires of the hikers, professional trail leaders will tailor the three days and two nights in the Sierra Nevada Mountains to uphold the women’s expectations and hopes. Whether it be climbing up the glacial bowl to Shadow Lake or snacking on peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a view of Mount Ritter, all of the ladies on the retreat are guaranteed to leave with a newfound appreciation for the environment and the powerful women around them. (sierramountaincenter.com)
Sierra Club Outings
Sierra Club Outings provides female outdoor enthusiasts the opportunity to embark on a week-long 28-mile trek through the breathtaking Emigrant Wilderness area in the Sierra Nevada. The majority of hiking follows along established trails and ensures that amateur hikers with experience carrying a loaded backpack will be able to traverse through the pine forests and glacier-carved granite ridges. Specialized guides plan out two layover days to enjoy reading a novel on a lakeside boulder, taking a swim or participating in a day hike in order to preserve energy for the journey through Saltlick and Whitesides meadows. All meals are included and it is encouraged for every member of the group to pitch in with the cooking process to create lifelong friendships as well as a delicious and hearty stew. An endless amount of snacks are also at one’s disposal and many opportunities, such as gazing at the sparkling water of Bear Lake while munching on cheese and crackers or a gooey chocolate chip cookie, will be spread throughout the hike. (sierraclub.org/outings)
Explorer Chick presents an outstanding opportunity to experience the empowerment of women while admiring panoramic views during the Yosemite Half Dome Hike and Backpacking trip. The strenuous trails require advanced hiking skills and knowledge, so preparation on the Stairmaster and some worn-in hiking boots should be taken into account beforehand. Whether you are traveling solo or with a group of gals, Explorer Chicks dedicates four days and three nights to laugh, sweat and bond throughout the backcountry of Yosemite. Along the route towards Half Dome, expert guides will make sure that the most scenic lookouts and picturesque snack stops are sprinkled throughout the journey. After dipping in the ice-cold Illilouette Creek and ducking under Nevada Falls, the group will climb to the summit of Half Dome in time for a brilliant sunset and the chance to reflect on the “strength, courage, friendship, respect, empathy and laughs” of the retreat. In addition to the breathtaking environment, participants will be able to experience a group of women who “bring a whole new meaning to love and risk-taking” and will return home with cherished memories. (explorerchick.com)
California’s women’s backpacking trips bring to life the astonishing power of the wilderness and the women who travel alongside you. Whether it be reaching the top of Mount Eddy with REI or exploring the Sierra Nevada with SMC, one will be sure to depart from a specialized women’s backpacking retreat with very sore legs, a little bit of dirt and deeply bonded friendships which will last a lifetime.
By Margaux Shearer