Carly Johnson is a woman – and that fact alone puts her in an unusual position on the national hiking circuit.
The Worthington resident said she is seeking to reverse that trend, starting in central Ohio by establishing a program to introduce women to camping at her new business, Happy Trail Adventures.
Johnson, 24, said the business is all about teaching women how to HYOH, or hike your own hike.
The company offers both a series and workshops that include everything from the basics – buying the proper footwear, for example – to more advanced techniques, such as water filtration, she said.
The home-based business, which eventually will move into a brick-and-mortar spot in Worthington, was created to show women they can be comfortable in the great outdoors either by themselves or with a companion, Johnson said.
“People were wanting me to start the business,” which includes some co-ed activities, she said.
From April through September, Johnson will hold a monthlong series for $200 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Thursdays and workshops for $150 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays on the basics of women’s backpacking.
The sessions are open to all skill levels and ages.
In each case, the lessons will be capped with an overnight stay at an Ohio park, with a tent, backpack and sleeping bag all provided by Johnson for the trip.
She said it would help individuals decide which equipment is right for them, as each person is built differently and has distinct comfort levels.
Participants may sign up through her website, happytrailadventures.com, or by calling her at 614-557-1862.
Johnson’s motivation can be traced to roughly four years ago.
When she was 21, Johnson said, she finished the 2,600-mile Pacific Crest Trail with five men, all 10 to 15 years older than her.
She also hiked other grueling trails, which gave her a feeling of euphoria and accomplishment.
When she returned to Columbus, she said, she felt a sense of longing to be around people who shared her enthusiasm.
“I was really missing that community, that hiker community, is what you call them,” Johnson said.
Yet she always found women keenly interested in her solo travels but less likely to follow in her footsteps, she said.
“The thing I heard the most from women was, ‘I could never do that,’ followed by, ‘without my husband,’ ‘without my boyfriend’ or ‘alone,’ “ she said.
Johnson believed otherwise, she said.
“To me, it wasn’t a valid reason,” she said.
Teresa Meier, 37, has signed up for one of Johnson’s classes.
Meier said she has completed day-hiking trips but never overnight, so she is looking forward to starting slow and learning the basics.
An avid exercise enthusiast, the resident of Worthington’s Colonial Hills neighborhood said she looks forward to the camaraderie of the hiker family.
“One of my strongest values is community, and I thought this was a great way to meet people in the community,” Meier said.
An oncology pharmacist, Meier said, her job is stressful, and she believes that being immersed in nature will help her relax and enjoy the surroundings.
She said she has eased her exercise regimen over the years, so hiking would be a good fit for her and her desire to stay in shape.
“You can always walk,” she said.