Women » Features

Women Take to the Great Outdoors

by Brooke Pierce
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Monday Apr 21, 2014

Even the most dedicated city slickers and suburban dwellers have those moments where they yearn to get out into the wild. Maybe that moment of longing happens while you're watching a beautiful nature documentary on PBS, or as you're pondering whether or not you'd be able to survive living in a post-apocalyptic wilderness (maybe that one's just me?).

No matter what the reason, if you're getting the itch to breathe fresh, crisp air and indulge in nature's peace, a weekend retreat might be just what the doctor ordered.

The Women's Outdoor Weekend (WOW) invites women to spend three days and nights in Manchester, Vermont for an all-inclusive, back-to-nature weekend.

"We're in southwestern Vermont in an absolutely beautiful area," said Berta Maginniss of the Manchester & the Mountains Regional Chamber of Commerce, which is co-sponsoring the weekend. Whether you are used to spending your days off doing laundry, vegetating on the couch, partying hard, or working overtime at the office, this is bound to be a welcome reprieve from the same old, same old.

"We think that professional women need a getaway now and then," added Maginniss. No doubt most professional women heartily agree.

Fortunately you don't need to be an experienced outdoorswoman to enjoy the Women's Outdoor Weekend. The alfresco activities scheduled for the retreat are geared toward women who have little experience or are learning them for the first time. And part of the idea of making it an all-female affair is to create a supportive atmosphere where participants can explore brand-new skills and gain confidence at their own pace.

Naturally, a scenic hike is on the weekend's itinerary. Hikers follow a trail into the Lye Brook Wilderness and up to a gorgeous 125-foot waterfall. If the idea of venturing into the wilderness make you a little nervous, no need to worry -- the hike is at a moderate level and is guided by an expert from The Green Mountain Club.

Fish and Shoot With the Experts!

Also on the docket is fly fishing, a type of fishing where you use an artificial lure rather than live (or once-living) bait. While this is definitely a plus if you don’t like handling slimy creatures, fly fishing is a kind of art that has its own special challenges.

This daylong adventure is a crash course in choosing flies, tying knots, and learning how to hook, handle and release a fish. All the necessary equipment is supplied and explained by Orvis, the sportswear outfitter and fly-fishing company founded in Manchester in 1856.

While hiking and fishing may seem like no-brainers for any out-of-doors retreat, the WOW schedule also includes a couple of fitting, but less obvious choices. A clay target shooting class, also courtesy of Orvis, gives the weekenders a chance to develop their skill with a shotgun. There is, of course, safety training, and both newbies and experienced shooters alike can expect to enjoy the opportunity to test their precision by blowing clay disks out of the sky.

Then there’s the "Land Rover Experience." You’ve seen those car commercials where the drivers take on the kind of rugged turf that no real person ever drives? Well, now you can actually drive it.

"Land Rover has one of their few driving schools here," explained Maginniss, so participants are provided with instruction in the ups, downs and rocky terrains of off-road driving before getting to explore an 80-acre course designed for extreme excitement.

"The WOW weekend is a quick immersion introduction to these sports with one-on-one instruction at a fraction of the normal cost of a course," Maginniss added.

On one evening of the retreat, nature will be brought directly to the participants courtesy of the Vermont Institute of Natural Science. A slide show, touchable artifacts and -- best of all -- live animals (a falcon, hawk, and an owl are all scheduled to appear) will be part of a presentation on predatory birds.

Roughing It Is Not So Rough

But let’s be honest, just because you’re game for immersing yourself in nature and outdoor adventure doesn’t necessarily mean you relish the idea of eating tin cans of beans for dinner and sleeping in tents. It just so happens that the organizers of this retreat also understand the beauty of comfort, so fine dining, luxurious lodging and shuttle service to all events is provided.

The food provisions range from breakfast at your lodgings to box lunches to big dinners. Farm-to-table gourmet cuisine is on the menu for the Friday evening meal at The Reluctant Panther, which has not only been recognized by the Vermont Fresh Network but has also won multiple Wine Spectator awards. The Saturday night feast is held at The Barrows House and showcases seasonal eating in Vermont with simple but tasty food and drink from local farms.

WOW accommodations are at the mysteriously-named inn, The Reluctant Panther (featuring fireplaces, marble baths, and even museum-quality art!); The Barrows House, a quaint inn located in the Dorset historic district; and The Inn at Ormsby Hill, a picturesque country bed and breakfast.

In between days out in nature and nights at the inn, Maginniss also reports that Manchester has some non-natured-based pleasures worth checking out: "We have wonderful arts and crafts and shopping."

WOW aims to attract women from a variety of backgrounds, from high-powered corporate mavens to stay-at-home moms -- anyone who can simply use a break from their particular grind -- so the weekend is sure to expose participants to lots of interesting people.

Together, you’re promised the chance to "get back to the basics," an experience that can create bonds between women while also allowing you to get in touch with your inner Earth Mother.

The inaugural Women’s Outdoor Weekend is scheduled for May 15-17. The total cost for the three days, which covers everything, is $1,895. Registration ends on May 1. Call 802-362-6313 to reserve, or visit www.wowvermontweekend.com, for information or to register online.

Brooke Pierce is a freelance writer and playwright in New York City. Her plays have received staged readings at the American Theatre of Actors, the Ensemble Studio Theatre, and Stage One Theater. Brooke is a member of the Drama Desk and the Dramatists Guild.


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