“You can’t grow if you just sit still,” says Gillian Schair of Portland. You can’t summit a mountain, learn to surf, or try your hand at archery without first making a bold decision to leave the house – and your comfort zone.

It’s a practice Gillian wanted to get better at doing on the regular (we all fall into routine ruts, after all) and she knew that getting out, tackling adventures, and busting out of comfort zones is way more fun when you’re doing it with other fun and adventure-loving people. So she created a group for like-minded women of all ages and abilities, who happen to have one thing in common: a desire for new experiences.

Left: The Ladies Adventure Club during a hike up Blueberry Mountain last September. Right: LAC members – and Gillian in the middle – and the cool LAC patch. Shannon Bryan photos.

Photo at top of story courtesy Gillian Schair.

Gillian launched the Ladies Adventure Club in 2015. The idea was inspired by another adventuresome woman (albeit a fictional one): Phryne Fisher of Miss Fishers Murder Mysteries, a TV drama about a woman who races cars, shoots guns, and drinks bourbon (and solves crime in her free time). A “ladies adventure club” sounded like a heck of a lot of fun, so Gillian rallied a group of friends and together they brainstormed what a local adventure club might look like.

Adventuring makes life richer. It makes me feel more alive and connected with something bigger than me.

There needed to be adventures, of course. Big ones and small ones. Adventuring doesn’t have to be wild and extreme, they agreed. It can be as simple as a cliff walk or meditation workshop, a full moon snowshoe or curling lesson. Most members aren’t hardcore outdoorswomen who spend weekends hiking Katahdin. “We’re all sort of normal people who want more adventuring in our lives,” said Gillian. All ages and abilities are welcome. “It’s totally non-judgemental…I want all the adventures to be accessible and safe.”

A Ladies Adventure Club hike up Blueberry Mountain – with a stop at Rattlesnake Pool – in September. Shannon Bryan photo

The Ladies Adventure Club began with 25 members and has grown to over 100 already. “It started out that I knew everybody,” said Gillian. “Now it’s friends of friends and strangers.”

Members range from twenty-somethings to eighty-somethings, and Gillian said she aims to make every adventure as accessible as possible to any woman who wants to come along.

Hiking down Blueberry Mountain. Shannon Bryan photo

Membership is $50 annually and members get access to all the events (most of which are free or have a nominal fee), and Ladies Adventure Club swag, like a sticker, patch (which I’ve noticed some members have rightfully sewn to their backpacks), and a small adventure book that highlights some of Gillian’s favorite Maine excursions.

“Adventuring makes life richer,” Gillian said. “It makes me feel more alive and connected with something bigger than me. It gets me outside, which fills me up in a way that I do not find in my everyday. It pushes me outside the normal pattern and makes me feel excited – and a little scared in a good way. I think it’s important to feel a little fearful to get that feeling of accomplishment and success. I don’t want life to become too easy.”

An archery lesson at Lakeside Archery in North Yarmouth last fall. Shannon Bryan photo

Besides, adventuring is way more fun when you have friends along for the ride (especially friends who’ll surprise you with Ben and Jerry’s ice cream at the top of a mountain, which Gillian does). And this is one friendly and welcoming group – I’ve been on a few adventures and each time there are new faces, lots of introductions, and lively chatter and laughter.

Full moon snowshoe in February! Shannon Bryan photo

Adventures are scheduled about once a month – sometimes more – and have include things like day hikes, full moon snowshoeing (when the weather’s cold), surfing lessons (when the weather’s warm), writing workshops, mediation, archery (which I did and loved), and a “guns and bourbon” event at Spurwink Rod and Gun Club (which I was very bummed to miss!).

Upcoming adventures include a squash lesson with Portland Community Squash and a learn to curl lesson with Pine Tree Curling Club and a late-April hike up Bald and Speckled Mountains.

There are also occasional overnight adventures – like the upcoming (sold out) weekend at West Branch Pond Camp in Kokadjo, where there will be plenty of cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and chilling the heck out.

A post-snowshoe potluck dinner (with WINE!) is the perfect way to warm up after a cold-weather adventure. Shannon Bryan photos

“I don’t know where it’s going to go,” said Gillian. “I don’t have a goal in mind, except to get more women comfortable outside and to grow a community of adventuresome women who want to push their internal envelopes.”

It’s safe to say Gillian has already done just that. To many more adventures, Ladies Adventure Club!

Ladies Adventure Club

Get out of the house and journey into the woods. $50 annual membership will get you access to events, the private Facebook group and a patch, a sticker, and a booklet of Maine adventures.
FMI: ladiesadventureclubmaine.com