Meet our #GWHAmbassadors: Caroline Paras

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Name: Caroline Paras

Hometown/Current Home: Oxnard / Ventura County

What chapter are you an Ambassador for?: Los Angeles

How long have you been apart of Girls Who Hike for?: Since February 2017

How did you find the Girls Who Hike organization?: I would love to say I found GWH, but two members -- Susie and Leigh -- found me and my dog, Brinkley, as we were going to begin our hike at Solstice Canyon. They told me about GWH and invited me to join the Facebook group. One of the best invitations I have ever received on Facebook.

What made you want to become a Girls Who Hike Ambassador?: I am a novice/intermediate hiker who wants to get better and better. It was just me and my dog hiking when I first started. But now that I belong to GWH, I've met some incredible women through meet-ups. These women -- no matter how fast and experienced -- have been supportive and make me feel at ease. They've made me a better and more confident hiker. I want to be able to do that for other women who want to get outdoors and hike. Also, I travel into Los Angeles County for many of my GWH meetups. I know there are many other members who live in my area and probably do the same thing. I'd like to begin sharing and exploring some of my local hikes between Malibu, Point Mugu, Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties with members.

How did you get into hiking?: I got diagnosed last year with Type 2 diabetes. I was told by my doctor to lose weight and start exercising. She told me I needed to do at least 30 minutes of activity a day. I needed to find an exercise program that I would stick to. I started out walking my neighborhood. Then, I started going out to the beach, walking longer distances. When I was fit enough to walk three miles, I thought I would try hiking. I was afraid to go alone, so I took my dog, Brinkley, along with me. My first hikes with Brinkley were easy, local trails. Then, I decided to try moderate and longer trails. But there are several trails that I wanted to do that didn't allow dogs. I wanted to prove to myself that I could do these hikes solo. I have. Now, with GWH, I know I don't have to hike alone. With every hike, I try to challenge myself to go further and further. And, with my increase in physical activity, my energy level is higher and I no longer have diabetes. Hiking has done wonders for me. And, I know it's an activity I can stick with.

What's your favorite thing about spending time in the outdoors?: I love the peace and serenity that comes with being outdoors. When everything around you is in chaos, there's the outdoors and open space to clear your head. Being outdoors puts everything in perspective. There's a whole world out there,

List three things you can't go hiking without: Extra water and food, my all-trails app and first-aid kit. I also bring along a whistle and my cell phone.

What do you love the most about being a Girls Who Hike Ambassador?: I'm looking forward to meeting more ladies who like to hike. Can't wait to start scheduling monthly hikes out in my neck of the woods.

What advice would you give ladies who are new to hiking?: Always do your research on the trail you want to trek. Make sure you dress appropriately for weather conditions and bring extra food and water -- especially water. Don't be afraid to ask another hiker for directions or help. And, don't be afraid to try more.

You can find out about Caroline's events by joining the Los Angeles chapter at http://www.facebook.com/groups/girlswhohikela/

Sharron McBrideComment