The power of nature to heal our human hurts and reveal strength we didn’t know we had is what keeps me on the trail. Even better is when you’re walking those trails, literally or metaphorically, with like minded people. When Heather reached out to me about gear for a solo trip in Cuyahoga Valley National Park, I didn’t think twice. Then I read her blog (she writes at wildinside.me) and found my own experiences reflected in her words. A feminist voice advocating for using the outdoors to empower and strengthen ourselves? I’m so in.

So when I met Heather for our gear exchange, I wasn’t surprised when she felt like a friend already. I am delighted to feature her photos from her time in Cuyahoga Valley National Park and let her tell you a bit about herself in her own words:

Heather is a lesbian writer and freelancer in Akron, OH. On her blog, Wild Inside Me, she shares how backpacking and spending time writing and exploring outdoors helps her grow and live a fuller life with depression and anxiety. She hopes someday to lead group backpacking trips as writing retreats. Currently, she’s saving and planning for building out a camper van so she can take her blog and adventures on the road, reaching even more women and encouraging them to get outside and rediscover their own wildness.

This trip was her first time out solo, and happened the same week as a major change in her life. On her trip, she learned many things about herself, grief and the inevitability of change. She also discovered a strength she had forgotten she had and was reminded that beauty and possibility can exist even in the most challenging of places. You can read more of her story on her blog at wildinside.me or follow her on Instagram.