Name: Kylie Strijek
Hometown: Santa Fe, NM
What chapter are you an Ambassador for?: New Mexico (Santa Fe)
How long have you been apart of Girls Who Hike for?: 6 months
How did you find the Girls Who Hike organization? First through Instagram, then found the Facebook group shortly after.
What made you want to become a Girls Who Hike Ambassador?: I applied to become an ambassador because it is so important to get more women enjoying the outdoors! It doesn't matter your skill level, whether you hike the walking trail near your house or summit Mt. Kilimanjaro, its great to get your body to move and to spend some quality time outside. Being an ambassador gives me a way to help inspire others to find great adventures close to home and meet some great women along the way.
How did you get into hiking?: I was a casual hiker growing up, and just loved to spend as much time as I could outside. About 2 1/2 years ago, I moved back to Santa Fe and started hiking monthly with a good friend. That summer, I was extremely overworked and stressed in my new job, causing a shingles outbreak and other health issues that led me to be bedridden for most of the month of August. During that time, I felt so weak and helpless, something that I had never experienced before. I grew up as an athlete and played a variety of sports including collegiate golf. With this type of lifestyle, I was rarely sick, so becoming bedridden took a serious toll on my body and mind. I refused to sit in a bed all day, so I started going to a hiking trail near my house almost daily. I would find myself getting lost in the woods for hours at a time, pushing through the pain and looking for a way to get better. As I began to get stronger physically and mentally, I started doing more challenging hikes, hiking for longer periods of time and climbing as high as I could. That time in the woods was so empowering, making me feel like if I could climb to the top of a mountain that I could do anything. It's become extremely addicting! As I continue to hike throughout the state and into other places, I find myself making more and more positive changes in other areas of my life.
What's your favorite thing about spending time in the outdoors?: I love being so disconnected. When I'm out in the wilderness, I tend to leave my phone on airplane mode and just take some time to myself. No Instagram, no Facebook, no texting. It feels so serene and gives my brain a chance to just shut off.
List three things you can't go hiking without:
1. All important and life-saving water.
2. My favorite snacks because I am forever hungry.
3. My sweet, adventure pup, Aspen.
What do you love the most about being a Girls Who Hike Ambassador?: I love getting to connect with so many amazing women in the community! Being an ambassador gives me a chance to meet women who I don't think I would have ever been able to otherwise. It's great to be with other women who love being outside just as much as I do.
What advice would you give ladies who are new to hiking?: Be prepared! I can't tell you how important it is to have the essentials, no matter how short the hike. There are so many great articles out there about how to prepare yourself. A great resource is A Woman's Guide to the Wild: Your Complete Outdoor Handbook by Ruby McConnell. She gives so much great advice about how to survive in the outdoors, plus some great tips specific to women, like what to do when a port-o-potty is way back at the trailhead and there's no way you can hold it.