Leap and the net will appear. -somebody, somewhere
Hi, hey, hello! I’m Jackie, the guide and creator here at The Girls Trip Adventure Co. If you’ve ended up here, I’m assuming you’re at least a little bit interested in backpacking, and you’re probably thinking about taking a chance and signing up to go on a trip with a bunch of other random women from all over, whom you’ve never even met before. Wow, that’s a little nerve-racking to even type, let alone to actually be the one to sign up! But hey, I’ve been in your shoes. And deciding to leap without a net was the best decision that molded me into who I am now.
Let me start an introduction from the beginning, because, I mean, if we’re gonna backpack together, I want you to be into this before we even meet in person, right? I’m Jackie Lastinger, and if you ask me “What do you do?” I’m not gonna give you a story about some 9-5 that I’m not even excited about. I’d truthfully answer, “Well, I backpack and long distance hike, I take trips and travel as much as I can, I try my hardest to inspire other women to grow in their outdoor recreation skills and abilities, and I just really love being outside using my body.” That’s a pretty good bullet point list that usually leads into a conversation about the other persons outdoor interests. Soon enough, we’re talking about a trip they went on once upon a time and going down memory lane or they’re sharing with me a place they really want to go, and how they can take the first step to get there. See? It’s what I DO. It’s what makes me all warm and fuzzy inside. It’s what makes me feel like “Hell yes I can do anything!” It’s what I crave and straight up, this is my passion: helping others feel this same way. And by “others”, I specifically mean women.
Let’s get real for a second, dudes are great, guys are fun, they bring some pretty good stuff to the table. But, we’ve all been ‘mansplained’ before. And if you spend a lot of time in the outdoors already, I’m sure it’s happened to you on a trail while you’re just minding your own business. Or you’re just like, on your lady times and need to commiserate with someone, but you’re surrounded by guys because you don’t have girl friends that are into outdoor recreation like you are. Or honestly, you just wanna be around some female energy and have a little less masculinity in your hiking life. Something just hits different when you’re hanging out with the girls. And when you strip away the distractions of the ‘regular world’ and you’re on a trail in nature with only your backpack and its contents, grit and will, and a badass group of other women, something magical happens. You kinda have to be there and see it for yourself, though I’ll try to explain.
In 2018, I became an ambassador for a hiking group called Hikerbabes. I signed up for this on a whim, and had absolute no clue where it would lead, if anywhere. Circle back to the beginning of this whole essay, leap and the net will appear. I leapt, without a net, and oh boy did it appear. So as an ambassador for Hikerbabes in my home state of Georgia, I began leading women-only hikes of different calibers all over north Georgia. It started out as day hikes with random strangers, snowballed into backpacking trips with ‘the regulars’ but still new ladies showing up too, and ended up with a gazillion incredible memories with all of these awesome women from all over who now also caught the bug for the mountains. We did anything from a short 4 mile day hike close to home, to a whitewater rafting day mixed with a sunrise summit hike and camping trip, to a multi day backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail, climbing mountains in Great Smoky Mountain National Park, and all the way to Arizona to backpack 40+ miles and swim in those iconic blue waters of Havasupai. Saying yes to guiding for Hikerbabes without any concrete plan and goal truthfully changed my life, and without it, I wouldn’t be sitting here on my couch in Maine typing this, attempting to find more women to backpack with.
But to me, it’s not necessarily about finding more girl friends to backpack and travel with. Someone reading this needs this in their life. Maybe you, or your sister, or your mom, or your daughter. Someone out there needs something new and fresh in their life. Someone needs to leave that super safe redundant comfort zone and see what lies just beyond it. Someone is going through a crappy breakup and needs to go travel with new people to see that yeah girl, you are actually worth everything and then some. Someone hasn’t touched their backpacking gear in 6 years because they’ve been all-consumed with work, but it’s sitting there in that closet right beside your desk listening to all your Zoom meetings just waiting for you to pick it up and go. Pick it up and go, it’s that simple. Someone wants to be that hiker chick who can carry everything she needs for 5 days on her back, but she’s standing in the middle of REI completely perplexed and overwhelmed and isn’t even sure where to start. Babe, I gotchu. We got this.
This is why I created The Girls Trip Adventure Co. I created this for you. So that you can take a chance on yourself, to use that body to climb mountains, to use that heart and soul to make new connections and lasting friendships through backpacking, to deepen your love for the trails and outdoor recreation, and so that you can be that badass woman standing on top of a mountain you just climbed with a smug grin on your face like “Yeah, I did that!” My hope is that you’ll come along on a trip and experience the transformation for yourself so that you can continue on an adventurous outdoorsy life path. You just gotta leap, and the net will appear, I promise you.
The quick facts about me
I am originally from Georgia, but I now live in Maine working as a snowmaker at Sugarloaf Mountain in the winter, and as a whitewater rafting guide in the summer. My favorite outdoor activities are backpacking, long distance hiking, snowboarding, riding my bike when it’s warm out, running, scuba diving, hiking with my dog, indoor rock climbing, and finding a good swimming hole to chill at for the day. I am a graduate of Georgia Southern University (2015) with a Biology degree and Spanish minor. In 2020, I thru hiked the entire Appalachian Trail northbound, and in 2021 I thru hiked the Foothills Trail and the Tahoe Rim Trail. My favorite mountain I’ve ever climbed is South Sister in Oregon. My two favorite books are Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer and Woodswoman by Anne LaBastille, and my favorite movie is Forrest Gump. I have an incredible dog named Mason who is my bestie, and my favorite part of the day is the part where you get to go to bed and sleep all night. I like to have s’mores on trail every now and then, I’m a big sushi fan, and pineapple absolutely goes on pizza.
See ya on the trail!