Wild East Women (WEW), an offshoot of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy's Wild East initiative, aims to lift a broader stewardship focus for women connected to the Appalachian Trail (A.T.).
WEW was launched as a volunteer-led affinity group as a means through which those with shared interests and shared identities can contribute to the ATC's mission of preserving and managing the A.T. Open to all, affinity groups complement the work of the ATC, 31 Trail Maintaining Clubs and like-minded third party organizations. Ultimately, affinity groups contribute to the larger goal of encouraging Trail users from under-represented demographics to become members, volunteers, donors and/or future leaders of the ATC and life-long stewards of the Trail.
Marit Anderson, Potomac Appalachian Trail Club volunteer, and Delia Clark of Taftsville, Vermont, are heading up the women’s affinity group to encourage women on the Trail in many capacities, including hiking, backpacking and trail maintenance.
“Thru-Hiking the A.T. made a huge impact on my confidence and my life. I want to give back and encourage others, especially women, to engage in the Trail in any way that speaks to them--it will make an impact back,” says Anderson about why she stepped up to lead WEW and ongoing workdays.
Wild East Women was created to encourage women on the Trail in many capacities, including hiking, backpacking and trail maintenance. While designed for women, the ATC does not turn away a male participant unless the registration list is already full.
Thanks to generous support from REI Asheville, WEW workdays provide a space for women to come together for a greater good. The workdays provide a way to celebrate and support women on the Trail, not to be exclusive. While designed for women, the ATC does not turn away a male participant unless the registration list is already full.
“Wild East Women’s Work Days reminded me so much of REI Women’s Force of Nature movement — women empowering women," said Janae Scott, Market Coordinator for REI. "It was an opportunity to support women’s focused programming in a new way, hands-on, in action, and completely fulfilling. Sweaty, dirty, happy."
WEW Workdays have been held in multiple A.T. states, with Virginia hosting events in well traveled areas including Entry Run and Sinking Creek Mountain.
"It was wonderful to have all twelve of these women from a variety of areas working together on building trail and learning about trail stewardship," said Anderson. "We look forward to more trail work projects together ahead!"
For more information about Wild East Women and how you can get involved, visit atcwomen100.wixsite.com/wildeastwomen and follow the group at instagram.com/wildeastwomen.
Over the next several weeks, we will be highlighting a variety of ATC projects and showing how they will positively affect the A.T. experience for future generations. These projects (and many more) are only made possible through the dedication of our members and donors! By giving a gift to the Trail today, you are ensuring that the unique A.T. experience is preserved and protected forever and for all.