By Katie Watt
Kayla Marie started at sea level. She was born on the West Coast, then her path took her to Grand Prairie, Alberta. After years of living under open skies, she was determined to be a B.C. girl again. Finally, she climbed her way into the Valley. That 830 metre elevation gain from the Pacific to peaks, she says, was the best thing to ever happen to her.
Mrs. Marie moved here almost exactly two years ago now. Since she moved, she’s enjoyed all the physical activities the Columbia Valley has to offer such as exploring its backcountry, or paddling on its numerous lakes and rivers. After a year of living here, she decided that she wanted to share her passion for the outdoors with other women as well.
Recently, Mrs. Marie began a Facebook group called “Women Who Wander.”
“I’ve noticed a big demand from women who want to get out into the mountains and explore, but they just don’t know how to, or they don’t have the resources. This group is for like minded women who want to get together to conquer mountains and their fears of climbing them,” says Mrs. Marie.
If this newly formed group were a mountain trail, Mrs. Marie would be standing near the beginning, and her future plans for the group would indicate an ambitious climb ahead.
Since it began, Mrs. Marie says the group has grown exponentially, especially in the last few months. Currently, the Facebook group has 150 members, each with hiking skills that range from beginner to advanced.
“It’s really rewarding to see,” she says. “I don’t go out and recruit people. Everybody who has joined the group has joined because they’re interested and want to get out and explore.”
So far, Mrs. Marie has organized and executed several events for the group such as an evening paddle in early April, followed by weekend hikes along whatever trails were snow free at the time.
But those events were just the beginning; next to come is the real climb, and, spoiler alert, there might be some ropes involved.
Mrs. Marie has a list of events planned out. These events will include an overnight hike to Diana Lake Lodge, a Mt. Swansea hike, a nature BINGO game for group members with young children, and a meet and greet campfire that she will be hosting at her house.
In the future, Mrs. Marie would also like to organize an introduction to mountain biking and an introduction to outdoor climbing class as well. She would also like to make the group and membership to it more official.
“I really want to create a sense of value in this group,”she says. To do this, she’s hoping to introduce a small annual membership fee that will help pay for group activities, as well as host monthly meetings to have input from members.
On top of working a full time job and taking care of her 3 year old, Mrs. Marie currently devotes a few hours a week to managing the group. “But it’s worth it. There’s just something about having women together that’s so inspiring,” she says.
If you’re interested in joining the group, you can request to do so by finding them on Facebook at “Women Who Wander.”