Down Home Hiking with Homemade Wanderlust
I had the opportunity earlier this year to meet a legitimate hiking celebrity! Even though hiking is just a hobby for most people, it definitely has it’s stars and legends. Due to the rise of social media, it’s easy to follow along with your hiking heroes on Instagram, YouTube, etc. I mostly follow thru-hikers since that is something I probably won’t ever do in my life, or at least not any time in the near future. I started following Jessica “Dixie” Mills of Homemade Wanderlust when she was hiking the Continental Divide Trail in 2018, the third leg of her successful Triple Crown. I wish I’d found her sooner, but my use of social media for hiking related purposes was actually pretty limited until 2018. Dixie is one of many popular hiking accounts out there, but her sense of humor and practicality makes her extremely relatable. She’s also from the South, which just goes to show, even those of us who grow up on flat ground can become accomplished hikers.
So when my Girls Who Hike ambassador pal Amy planned an event with Dixie as a guest speaker, you can bet your last dollar I was going to be there! Even if it meant I had to wake up at 5 am to get to FDR State Park, which is located all the way down in Pine Mountain. This was a really great event because the intent was to share information about hiking, backpacking, and gear needed. We have a lot of new hikers in our GWH group and we strive to provide information to help get started with hiking or backpacking. Of course, none of us are experts, but with a hobby like hiking, the best way to learn is by doing and sharing. So for several hours, we sat under a pavilion with Dixie and she shared all the gear she used for her thru-hikes. Some of the other girls who hike Ambassadors also brought their gear as well and lots of other attendees shared gear they love as well. Common themes- we all love Osprey and we all want a Zpacks Duplex.
The gear Dixie uses for thru-hiking tends to be higher end that what the average hiker (aka me) uses, but that’s ok and to be expected. Thru-hikers obviously need lightweight gear and lighter = more expensive. For me, this was really helpful because I don’t know anyone who has super lightweight gear and I’ve always wondered what it actually looks and feels like. Dixie is practical, though, so on her YouTube channel she has reviews of $50 tents and other things budget backpackers might want to know about. I’m not going to go into great detail about gear right now, but I highly recommend checking out Dixie’s videos especially if you’re newer to hiking or backpacking. Be forewarned- once you start watching, you probably won’t be able to stop!
All in all, it was really great to get together with 25 or so other women and talk all things outdoors. We covered everything from tents to food storage to rain gear to hygiene. It’s easy to be intimidated by hiking and backpacking, especially if you’re just starting out and trying to figure out what your gear needs are. That’s what I love most about Girls Who Hike; it’s a friendly, non-judgemental environment where we can all learn from each other, whether it’s through online discussion or fun group events. Unfortunately, due to bad weather, I wasn’t able to hike after the event, but I definitely plan to return to the Pine Mountain area to explore further in the future.