Co-written by Dawn Larson and Mindi Jenson
When I set out to create She Ascends, I was an “unlikely” hiker and still consider myself one today. I continue to seek out personal hiking challenges and work on creating an organization around hiking to hopefully help myself and others find a path back to connection. This path is paved on “The Hike”.
I have had the privilege of meeting women of all ages on many beautiful Minnesota trails, women with rich and complicated stories. As we have connected, we have unknowingly begun to create the She Ascends story: it is our history. It belongs to all of us, and it is worthy of chronicling.
I am pleased to announce that Dawn Larson will help She Ascends tell our story, one amazing woman at a time.
I would like to introduce Dawn, a Central Region She Ascends Member. Dawn has so many talents, but shining through with so much light is her heart. It continually shines as she invites us to join her in fully living life. Dawn has made She Ascends a piece of her journey and has encouraged other women to do the same.
Here is her She Ascends story:
Prior to becoming a wife and a mom, Dawn Larson was a fierce adventure racer, outdoor enthusiast, and traveler, at least when she wasn’t managing health clubs and personally training clients. She had all the time in the world to workout, travel, and wander in the woods. Then…her friends had kids, she started working more hours, she got married and had a daughter.
“Friendships drifted apart, work became almost impossible to balance with a very sick young child and workouts stopped. I gained weight. I changed jobs and once the Covid-19 pandemic hit, the loneliness and lack of focus on my health and fitness only grew. I was officially a busy mom that had lost herself.”
In the summer of 2021 Dawn saw a She Ascends Facebook post. She is extremely social, but the pandemic restrictions had made her apprehensive to jump into something new, especially with strangers. So, she decided to follow the She Ascends Facebook page. As time went by she became more and more intrigued.
“ Women hiking together in the woods? I LOVE to hike in the woods! I have always felt a connection to nature. Once when I was around five, I heard a whisper in the wind. I believed it was God giving me reassurance of his presence. I wanted to hear the reassuring whisper again. She Ascends felt like a possible path back to reconnection.”
Dawn felt and understood the She Ascends mission and in that moment, she knew it was meant for her. She Ascends was created to give us time in nature to embrace each other. Through these connections, we are allowed space to find ourselves again. She Ascends leads us to The Hike.
"I wanted to be found and to connect with other “like minded” women. So, after a couple of months of following the She Ascends Facebook posts and reading the newsletters…I took a deep breath and joined. I signed up for my first hike in November, 2021. I was nervous, I didn’t understand how badly I actually needed a scheduled time with other women in my calendar. I did not need to plan it, I just needed to schedule it. One hike a month wasn’t a huge commitment but it was enough to get my feet going. I had fears; I was so out of shape I wasn’t sure I could keep up and I did not know anyone. I couldn’t believe my level of self-doubt. “ But I also had a feeling that this could be a good thing for me.”
Dawn’s first hike was at Woodland Park in Dassel. It was a small group and everyone was kind and easygoing. From there she attended several more hikes and a couple of full day retreats. Before She knew it, she was making friends, connecting on Facebook, and even messaging via text. Then, Dawn booked her ticket with She Ascends for Iceland. ICELAND!
“A year and a half ago I was wondering if I would ever get my butt back in gear…now I am training and planning for a hiking trip to Iceland with old friends and new. I am not only back on track, 2023 is looking like it will be one of the best years of my life. My connection to nature, others, and myself is stronger than ever. I have joined The Hike.”
As Dawn shared her story I connected to her feelings of being lost. Somewhere along the way as moms, career women, and wives we disconnected from our “individual self.” We both were looking for a path back to self and reconnection. We needed The Hike. We stepped outside our comfort zones and in doing so we unexpectedly started a chain of events; making small differences for ourselves and for other women. This is the power of The Hike. It is the foundation of the She Ascends mission and it is what connects Dawn and I. It is actually what connects all members of She Ascends. It is the cornerstone of our story together.
The Hike has always been there for all of us, it is a trail leading into the woods, a prairie with a gentle wind, the mountain that begs to be traveled - it is simply a journey -.The hike connects us to nature and in doing so connects us to self. I heard the call on the trail, I embraced “the hike”, and I saw the importance of sharing the hike with others. Dawn heard it too! We think many of you are hearing it as well. We want to hear your stories.
“To be whole. To be complete. Wildness reminds us what it means to be human,
what we are connected to rather than what we are separate from.”
--Terry Tempest Williams, naturalist and “citizen writer”
Come join us… Join the hike!
What is your connection to nature? Have you made a connection to a friend through She Ascends? Have you found a renewed sense of connection and wellness to yourself? Dawn and I would like to share YOUR story and how it fits into our She Ascends story.
To share your story please contact Dawn at:
Come try a hike at no cost and meet some inspiring women:
Click This Link
"We are each gifted in a unique and important way. It is our privilege and our adventure to discover our own special light." ~Mary Dunbar