A good ole fashioned sandbag could be the start of it all…

My body is sore, but it’s that good kind of sore, where even though my joints ache, I want to foam roll every muscle in my body, and all I crave is meat (says the former vegetarian), I know I am getting stronger.

I had the opportunity today to go on a hike with my good friends Rachael and Mike in Boulder. I totally sandbagged them when I said “it’s just going to be a short hike, I think like 3 miles total, enough so we feel like we worked, but it doesn’t take all day.” 6.8 miles and 2,951 feet of round-trip elevation gain later, the trail that Protrails calls “the shortest but most strenuous route to Bear Peak” proved to be just that. I had completely forgotten how difficult the trail was, but it was absolutely worth it.

It was an amazing day and as we were hiking up, we passed this group of three young teenage girls who had obviously just crushed it and were on their descent now. We said hello and asked them how much longer to the top and they cheerfully said, “Only about 30 more minutes and it levels out in just a bit!” Even though the next portion of the hike I was still sucking air, I could not stop smiling for the next 20 minutes. I was so excited to see young girls choosing to spend their Saturday outside and doing something challenging.

I am so inspired by young people who choose to spend their time doing something so positive because Lord knows when I was their age, I definitely was not always making those choices. I’m pretty sure I spent most every Saturday playing volleyball at all day tournaments or overnight tournaments, or doing all of my chores so I could go hang out with my friends. No where on my adolescent radar was the idea that taking a hike with friends could be a great Saturday afternoon activity. I’m also pretty sure that I didn’t even know such thing as a trail existed, let alone in Michigan. It just wasn’t something I was exposed to.

This is why I am so excited to go on this journey. Many kids these days are committed to doing something at a really young age and while I think that things like playing an instrument, playing sports, etc can be really positive experiences, there is also a part of me that wonders if, given the opportunity, would the outdoors have been something that I really connected with at a young age? Who knows.

All I know is that I had a wonderful family who loved and supported me through anything that I was interested in and I am lucky enough now, to have experienced the outdoors in a way that has forever left its mark on me. I hope that on this trail, I can at least give young girls an opportunity to see or do something that maybe was never on their radar and give them exposure to a trail that is right in their backdoor. Maybe one day, one of those girls will sandbag their friends and leave their bodies sore, tired and hungry for more adventure.

A quick update on the Iron Belles Initiative….

My friend Kristina and I have officially partnered together and submitted our paperwork for “Iron Belles” to be a trade name and a registered company! Once that goes through, we will be submitting our paperwork to be an official non-profit organization! We could not be more excited! Here’s our mission:

Iron Belles is an organization devoted to shifting the paradigms around women in contemporary society. Our mission is to challenge traditional gender roles and help each woman push past her perceived limitations. We want to create a positive community of women who empower each other, and we are dedicated to helping individuals create their own stories.

Here’s how you can help! We are going to be starting the process of developing our logo and if you have a creative idea, let me know! (bethany.gleason@gmail.com) You can also start to follow us on our facebook and instagram accounts and start tagging your woman adventures with #ironbelles.

Facebook: “Iron Belles”

Instagram: @ironbelles

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