How This Trail Sister Came to Dream, Believe & Achieve

Helen is an avid lover of the outdoors, but her passions are hiking and running. She has lived in the northeast USA for the entirety of her life, most recently in New Jersey and Connecticut where she enjoys weekend hiking trips to the beautiful Hudson Valley and Catskills mountains. Helen has traveled to many amazing places to feed her soul with mountain views. Some of her favorite places to hike and run have been Yosemite, Yellowstone, and Zion National Parks, Banff, CA, Chilean Patagonia, and of course, Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa.

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One thing I’ve learned over time is that many women have a tendency towards self-limiting beliefs. We struggle with expressing our true selves because we still think in terms of what we should be doing for others, or how we should be following a predefined path as a wife, mom, or caregiver. These limiting beliefs prevent us from becoming the person we’ve dreamed of being. They take away our ability to be authentic to ourselves. Why can’t we be adventurous, daring, bold, exciting? Why can’t we strive to be something more, do something more?

These were the questions I struggled with up until my late 40’s. Despite being a wanderer and dreamer as a child and young woman, I chose to take the safer route, the more “acceptable” route…or what I deemed to be so at the time. I graduated college, went into the corporate world, had a family, and checked off all the traditional boxes. But something inside me felt unfulfilled. Something was missing. Despite working hard at everything I strived for in life, I had a growing emptiness that eventually threatened to envelop me. I found myself losing interest in the things that previously made me happy. I was floundering and questioning my purpose. I was losing my direction in life, and worse, I was losing my spirit, my joy. To make up for the emptiness I started spending more and more time planning mini adventures that gave me a reprieve and brought me back to my center, albeit temporarily. My kids were older and independent, so I traveled to some pretty amazing places with my best friend. But still, it was enough. I came back home afterward, and within a few weeks I was back to that empty feeling, like I needed to be doing something more.

Around Thanksgiving 2021, I was having a conversation with my bestie, who I came to find out, was feeling exactly the same way I had been feeling all these years. We talked into the night, and for many evenings after about what we could do to give our lives more purpose and meaning. We would go on hikes together and brainstorm ideas about what we wanted the next phase of our lives to be… about how we could marry doing meaningful work with the things we felt passionate about. We knew we loved the outdoors (really, who doesn’t?). We knew we wanted to help people. We care about the world and the people in it. So, why was it so hard to find the right path forward? At the same time, we were pondering these things, we were also planning our next adventure together. We both had big milestone birthdays coming up and we wanted to do something BIG to celebrate. It was always my childhood dream to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, ever since learning that it was the only snow-topped mountain in Africa, and that the glacier was melting at such a rapid rate, that it would likely not be around in 50 years. I wanted to see that mountain top with my own eyes and challenge myself to reach the summit of the highest free-standing mountain in the world. Planning the trip gave me back that sense of joy I had been missing for a long time, but it wasn’t, at the time, the thing that I thought would change my life forever. Until it was…

We arrived in Moshi, Tanzania at the end of January 2020, a few weeks before COVID-19 was declared a pandemic and the world basically shut down. I was giddy with excitement. My friend, Christina, and I had spent many months planning, training, getting the right gear, and preparing for this trip. We had decided to dedicate our Kilimanjaro trek as a charitable climb and created a fundraiser for a local non-profit organization we had come across during our trip planning research. The organization, Make A Difference Now, had programs supporting computer literacy at a local girls’ school in Moshi, and youth development in general. Our fundraising efforts brought in about $1,600 in donations and many school supplies. Our plan was to visit the girls’ school, bring the supplies, and spend the day between the end of our Kilimanjaro climb and the beginning of our safari tour with the students, and as the day neared, I became more and more excited. Since my arrival in Tanzania, I felt a special connection with the country. It’s a poor country, no doubt, but it is rich in the love and warmth of its people; it’s rich in its long and strong culture and blend of indigenous and modernized traditions. Its people have an openness about them that is refreshing; a welcoming attitude and a willingness to help. And that is when it hit me. Not to sound cliché and corny, but I felt an instant stirring in my heart and soul. I understood what I wanted my new path to be, and it filled me with energy. It’s hard to adequately describe in words how hard I fell in love with that place.

When I came back from Tanzania, completely spent, but totally fulfilled, I immediately started to put together my plan to create a company that would provide people with the kind of adventures that make them feel good physically, mentally, and emotionally, and Roam Wild Adventure was born. Through my company I have been able to focus on giving back to the local community through organizing our own charitable climbs and working in partnership with local organization to enable our clients to give back, much in the same way I had. I’m so happy to say now, that as we have grown from a start-up to a small but strong and vision-led company, we have taken many steps to ensure we provide meaningful and sustainable solutions in the tourism sector. Now we are members of Leave No Trace, Tourism Cares, Tomorrow’s Air, and other sustainable tourism non-profit organizations that are helping adventurers like us build a better future through. We strictly follow the guidelines for the ethical and fair treatment of porters on Kilimanjaro, established by the Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project (KPAP). We have even planted our own forest through the Evertreen Reforestation project and are matching donations from our clients. I only share my story in the hopes that other Trail Sisters may relate to where I was in my journey and feel empowered to follow their dreams, as well.

Much love TS! XOXO

About the Author

Helen is an avid lover of the outdoors, but her passions are hiking and running. She has lived in the northeast USA for the entirety of her life, most recently in New Jersey and Connecticut where she enjoys weekend hiking trips to the beautiful Hudson Valley and Catskills mountains. Helen has traveled to many amazing places to feed her soul with mountain views. Some of her favorite places to hike and run have been Yosemite, Yellowstone, and Zion National Parks, Banff, CA, Chilean Patagonia, and of course, Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa.

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