Meet our #GWHAmbassadors: Sasha Pechenaya

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Name:  Sasha Pechenaya

Hometown/Current Home: born in Odessa, Ukraine; lived my childhood in Brooklyn, New York; found my home in Los Angeles, California :)

What chapter are you an Ambassador for?: Los Angeles

How long have you been apart of Girls Who Hike for?: 1 year

How did you find the Girls Who Hike organization?: A friend posted on her Facebook about the Spartan race with GWHLA and I thought, 'That's exactly what I've been looking for! Now I don't have to bug friends to wake up "early" to go on a hike with me. šŸ˜‚'

What made you want to become a Girls Who Hike Ambassador?: I feel so grateful for the opportunities I've been given and knowledge I've gained and I love helping others get that same feeling.  

How did you get into hiking?: Being outdoors has always been something therapeutic to me. I've been trying to explore ever since I basically moved to LA. I would go every now and then, but it was always a challenge getting others to commit to waking up "before 10" or go as often as I would've liked. Now, I have a bigger, amazing community to do it with more frequently. 

What's your favorite thing about spending time in the outdoors?: Gratitude. The reminder of how lucky I am to wake up and use my senses to experience such a miracle as nature. That's just the SparkNotes version of all the emotions that surge through me. 

List three things you can't go hiking without: water!!, iPhone (double duty acts as camera to attempt to capture the beauty and also as my downloaded map because I am quite directionally challenged without it)

What do you love the most about being a Girls Who Hike Ambassador?: I have only recently become an ambassador, but I just seriously love all the ladies that are part of this group and the constant support I have in even what seems like the most trivial of things. I am looking forward to being able to explore with new and familiar ladies and continue to learn from each other in an uplifting environment

What advice would you give ladies who are new to hiking?: 1. We all started somewhere. The worst thing you can do is not start. Reach out to others for hikes and ask questions. Some of the best people are met on the trails. 
2. Not everyone is like you. You may be friendly. You may like hearing "you got this, halfway there!" You may thrive from larger groups. Not everyone is like that. Someone may be on the trails for solitude or may be going through something or may just be an introvert that doesn't usually initiate conversation. Continue to be friendly on the trail and brighten everyone's day, but try not to take the their responses too personally.
3. That is one of the hardest things I'm learning is not to have any expectations on the trail and just hike my own hike. 
4. Research. Research. Look at a couple sites describing the hike to determine if it's something you can handle. Always carry a downloaded map in unfamiliar territory. Check weather for all altitudes of the hike. Bring your 10 essentials. Don't take any hike for granted. 
5. Leave no trace. Respect the area and the animals inhabiting it. Also respect other hikers. Hikers going uphill or those with less room to step aside get the right of way. If you need to listen to music, please wear headphones. Everything you bring in, take out. Just because it's "biodegradable" doesn't mean it belongs on the trails.


You can follow Sasha's adventures on her personal Instagram at www.instagram.com/sashapechenya. Join her monthly meetups through the Los Angeles chapter by clicking here.