Hiking for a Cause: PCT 2018 to Empower Girls in Nature

In 2016, I launched a fundraising campaign inviting my community to be a part of my pilgrimage on the Appalachian Trail. Thanks to the generosity and encouragement of over 200 contributors, I was able to embark on the soul-searching journey of a lifetime.

Now, it’s time to repay the universe for the abundance I experienced when I committed to hiking the AT. I’m thrilled to announce that I will be hiking the PCT northbound in 2018 to raise money for girl empowerment in nature!

Specifically, I am looking to support nonprofits that are helping young people, especially young women, gain confidence in themselves and in the outdoors. For every mile I walk between Mexico and Canada, I am seeking sponsors who will commit to donating a certain amount per mile to this cause. I will announce the specific nonprofits and how to donate this fall.

Why This Matters To Me

Janel Healy

During my solo “flip-flop” through-hike of the Appalachian Trail, I experienced excruciating foot pain, mind-blowing sunsets, freezing hail that pelted my skin until it was raw, and powerful conversations with fellow hikers who also felt that they didn’t quite fit into mainstream society. I learned not to compare myself to others who were hiking faster or slower than me, and to be gentle but steady in my self-discipline. I learned how to reason with Fear in a way that those of us who are born female aren’t typically invited or socialized to.

I learned to sleep alone in the middle of the forest without getting scared and how to keep my cool during wild animal encounters. I learned to trust and listen to my instincts in a way that I didn’t know was possible. I learned to let go when things didn’t go my way and to accept whatever the trail had in store for me. I learned to accept what my body looks like and to understand that how my body feels is what really matters.

Long-distance hiking is one of the last semblances of the great Hero’s Journeys and rites of passage that have defined people’s lives for thousands of years. Humans are not meant to be sedentary or trapped behind computers and inside of offices, cars and isolated nuclear family households day in and day out. We are a migratory species. “We move, therefore we are.” (Take that, Descartes!) We are meant to be part of our ecosystems and the wider human experience in ways that have been all but lost.

In my experience, long periods of time spent moving through nature—both alone and surrounded by a tribe of people also experiencing the same forward momentum—is one of the most healing activities that modern people, especially women, can do to reconnect to themselves and to the planet.

For this reason, I am passionate about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in 2018 to raise awareness and funds for organizations that are empowering girls outdoors.

Let’s do this!

More information on the specific nonprofits and how to donate is coming this fall. Please visit my website and click “Subscribe” in the Footer to receive email updates, including an announcement when the fundraising platform goes live. Thank you for your interest!

Janel Healy

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Comments 10

  • ThruHikerWannaBe : Jul 25th

    One of the best girl empowerment organizations in the U.S. are the Girl Scouts.

    From their website: “[The] founder, Juliette Gordon Low, was a famous lover of nature. Today, Girl Scouts honors her legacy by promoting respect and love of the great outdoors far and wide. Through Girl Scouting, girls see the Earth as their home. Whether they’re learning about endangered wildlife, developing creative recycling projects, or working toward a grade-level award, girls focus on care, conservation, and responsibility. They make sure the beauty and wonder of our planet endure for future generations to enjoy.”

    Have a great hike!

    Reply
    • Janel Healy : Sep 23rd

      Thank you for the suggestion!

      Reply
  • Kevin : Sep 17th

    How does a dollar help “girl empowerment in nature”? And if you want to help a charity why don’t you just NOT hike the PCT and use the $6,000 you save by donating it to a charity? Anything else just looks like you are asking the world to fund your adventures while you label it as charity.

    Reply
    • Janel Healy : Sep 23rd

      Hi Kevin! Thanks for your feedback. I have yet to decided on an exact monetary goal, but I am planning on raising something like $15-20k for 3 nonprofits that I selected (a post is coming soon about them). I will probably use the platform Generosity by Indiegogo to crowdfund that money over the course of my hike, and when my hike is over, I will split the money earned into 3 equal chunks and donate them to the nonprofits. The whole process will be very transparent, and it will be quite clear that I am not pocketing the money for personal use. This is not my personal money I could save and donate by NOT going on a through-hike; this is money raised by others specifically BECAUSE I am on a through-hike and raising awareness for these nonprofits in doing so. Thanks!

      Reply
      • Janel Healy : Sep 23rd

        …yet to decide*

        Reply
  • Cog : Sep 24th

    You’re hiking for yourself and you want others to pay for it. That’s plain to see.

    Reply
    • Janel : Sep 24th

      Hi Cog! Actually, everything I raise will be going to three nonprofits, most likely the B-Rad Foundation, GirlVenture and The Girls Empowerment Workshop nonprofits. It will be very obvious and transparent that I am not skimming any money off the top for myself. I will be using my own personal funds to do the PCT. If I was raising funds for myself to go, which I actually did in 2016, I would be very transparent about it. Many people hike for a cause, and I’m looking forward to it giving greater meaning to my hike!

      Reply
  • Sydnee Tigert : Sep 24th

    Love your positivity and transparency with these nasty commenters. And this is a great idea!!

    Reply
    • Janel : Sep 24th

      Thank you, Sydnee!

      Reply
  • Cog : Sep 25th

    Nasty women. 😀

    Reply

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