Running Community | Erica LuBera | Wild Roots
One of the best things about being a runner is that there are so many other people out there that enjoy the same thing you do. There are whole communities just waiting for you to show up and say hi. Or in my case to just show up stand around awkwardly and say nothing. Then all those wonderful people will talk to you because you are there and you also love running.
As a completely introverted and awkward person with a lot of social anxiety starting running was one of the best things I ever did in my life. It lead to me meeting so many people and having so many great experiences.
I am not great at meeting new people and making friends. But running with people and sharing this thing we love has really allowed me to get to know some wonderful people. One such person is Erica LuBera
Erica is a fellow runner who I have met through sharing time on the trails at group runs and running events. Since I am not great at actual in person socialization I always try to connect with my fellow runners on social media. This is how I learned that Erica started an organization that I thought sounded pretty cool and that I think other people who share similar interests might find interesting as well. So I wanted to take some time to tell you a little about Erica and her organization.
Erica describes herself as an avid backpacker, trail runner, hiker, and general outdoor adventure enthusiast. Growing up she spend much of her free time playing in the forest next to her home where they would build trails and forts and have fun adventuring and climbing.
As is the case for so many of us Erica went through a period of rediscovery. Several years ago Erica re-discovered the healing natures of spending time in the forest. Ever since that moment Erica has been focused on trying to spend every minute she can outdoors.
Erica’s rediscovery of her love of the outdoors began with hiking. Short hikes became longer and longer hikes. One day she spotted someone backpacking on the Mid State Trail. This was her first encounter with the concept of long backpacking trips. For Erica this was like a revelation, “You mean I can stay out here? For more than a day?” As Erica was reconnecting with nature the idea of being able to just stay in nature for a prolonged period of time was mind blowing.
This discovery of backpacking was ripe for full emersion and Erica dove in head first. Gear was gathered for the adventures to come. Many miles mistakes and memories made later – Erica has now backpacked over 3,000 miles in Eastern US; including the Appalachian Trail, Susquehannock Trail System, Loyalsock Trail, Black Forest Trail, and West Rim Trail to name a few.
The fully immersive feeling of a backpacking experience is what she loves. However, it is a lot of work just to plan a trip, let alone complete a trip!
In between backpacking trips Erica discovered and fell in love with trail running as well. And as has been the case with so many of us, once you hit the trails you just can’t stop and Erica was no different. She fell head first into the world of ultra-running.
In 2021 Erica completed her first 100k ultra-marathon. And then she doubled up on that effort completing her second 100k event in the same year.
Anyone who is a trail runner knows what an amazing community there is to be found out there amongst the dirt and trees. Erica said, “The only community to rival the passionate, persevering and supportive spirit of the trail running community would be the AT Thru hikers we met in 2019. There is something about the shared experience one has while tackling the task of traversing challenging distances by foot that breaks down all barriers or perceived differences. I fell in love with the forest and found a family in the process (including a husband).”
When backpacking like so many other things in life there is a lot to learn. Backpacking has been a source of so much joy and a renewed sense of self for Erica. But backpacking is a process and there is a lot to learn and she admits she has made a lot of serious mistakes along the way in her backpacking journey.
There is a lot of information out there. It is easy to come across contradictory sources of information. For a beginner all this information and the various differing opinions can be overwhelming. Fear of what you don’t know can be enough to stop you from taking that first step – not to mention the bears, snakes, ticks, getting lost, or just simply being alone! Erica also notes that being a woman trying to explore in the outdoors also imposes its own unique challenges.
Erica saw these obstacles first hand and she decided she wanted to be part of a solution to helping people who wanted to explore the outdoors overcome all these barriers that may feel insurmountable and keep us sequestered inside our comfy houses. She started an organization called Wild Roots Guided Adventures.
Wild Roots Guided Adventures is devoted to empowering those who wish to explore wild spaces. I hope to offer affordable services, guidance and opportunities that will allow my clients to gain experiences necessary to safely enjoy and feel confident in nature. I believe in the importance of both a supportive community and individual experience to foster capabilities and self-assuredness. Wild Roots will meet you at your level of experience and begin building from there.
For 2022, Wild Roots will be offering guided hikes and backpacking trips to women in or around Pennsylvania trails. More information can be found at facebook.com/wildrootsguides/ or instagram.com/wildrootsguides/.
Planning for the future
I have been interested in the idea of multi day backpacking trips for a while now. But like so many people I haven’t done anything about it simply because I did not know where to start and I didn’t feel like I knew enough to give it a shot. I am so glad I met someone as experienced ands knowledgeable as Erica.
I definitely plan to make use of her services to learn more about backpacking so that I can gain the confidence to get out there and have some backpacking adventures of my own.