Meet GWH Ambassadors: Denise

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Name: Denise Dawson

Hometown: currently Howard City, MI (but I’ve lived all over. I grew up in Birch Run, MI; went to college in the UP; then did an internship in Alaska; then spent about 5 years in Colorado.)

What chapter are you an Ambassador for?: Michigan

How long have you been apart of Girls Who Hike for?: March 2018

How did you find the Girls Who Hike organization?: I’m a part of a few different hiking groups on Facebook. Girls Who Hike came up in a discussion and I had to check it out. I was super excited to find a group of ladies that enjoy the outdoors.  

What made you want to become a Girls Who Hike Ambassador?: I love the outdoors! I have degrees Parks & Recreation and a Natural Resources and currently work for a municipality as a Parks Program Administrator. I loved the idea of being able to meet other women that love the outdoors as much as I do.  

How did you get into hiking?: I was always outside as a child. My summer breaks were spent playing in the woods – building forts, making art out of sticks, collecting rocks and swimming. As an adult I still love to do these things. Being outside in nature makes me happy.  

What's your favorite thing about spending time in the outdoors?: It’s so relaxing. I love getting out in the woods early in the mornings during hunting season and watching the woods wake up. I also love being the first person on a trail after a big snowfall. Nature is always changing and it doesn’t matter how many times I’ve hiked a specific trail because every time there is something new to notice and appreciate.  

List three things you can't go hiking without: Water, snacks and first aid kit! I drink a lot of water and I don’t like to get hungry. I can quickly get hangry if I don’t have any snacks nearby. My husband bought himself a daypack near Christmas and I took it over. While I was explaining to him why his new pack would be better for me – it quickly turned into how many snacks can I fit in these easily accessible pockets. Turns out the answer is a lot!  

What do you love the most about being a Girls Who Hike Ambassador?: I was truly inspired by the women I met while leading my first official hike in early May. Hearing their stories of how they overcame injuries from accidents or living life with a disability was an amazing experience. I’m a true believer that anyone can hike and I love having the opportunity to help other women realize they can hike too.  

What advice would you give ladies who are new to hiking?: Get out there and just start hiking! After all hiking is pretty much just walking in nature. There are also plenty of handicap accessible trails in Michigan for people that have limited mobility. Join a hiking group, participate in the meet ups and make new friends!

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To join Denise's local meet ups and discussions through the Michigan chapter, click here.