RESTORE your connection to nature
RECONNECT to your soul
Secret coves. Warm beaches. Forgotten homesteads. Lush forests. Discover the authentic beauty of North Manitou Island.
Immerse yourself in the imperial landscape of North Manitou Island for 2 nights and 3 days of cultivating wholeness and connecting with nature. Fifteen thousand acres of wilderness floating in the sparkling waters of Lake Michigan, provides some of the most isolated backpacking in the State. North Manitou Island offers visitors a primitive experience emphasizing solitude, a feeling of self-dependence, and a sense of exploration.
We will enjoy hiking the dune landscape, playing in turquoise waves, spying island flora and fauna, exploring a ghost town, while learning the island's history and rediscovery ourselves.
Let’s get outside and celebrate our strength and sisterhood! I live to empower women. To open their wild hearts through slowing down and connecting to wilderness, honoring their bodies, supporting each other, and listening to nature’s whispers.
To disconnect from the world. To prove to ourselves that if we don’t post about it on social media, it still tastes and looks just as good, maybe even better.
To carry everything that we need on our backs to a desolate island to encourage a rhythm to life we all need more of. The island is bold enough to nudge us back to our uninhabited ways. A place where you can be free again – barefoot, sunburned and wild.
The island demands more from our increasingly comfortable lives. We get out of our comfort zones to experience true growth. One must embrace isolation on an island that is hard to get to. It requires a reliance on our own wits—where you can let your imagination wander while your soul inhales the wildness it needs. Leaving you with a fresh perspective on the life you thought you knew so well, a healthy reminder to stop taking it for granted.
Women backpacking trips are the perfect adventure for women of every age, fitness level and every personality! During the trip, you will learn how to plan a backpacking trip, learn what equipment you’ll need, how to select a base camp, nutrition and campsite cooking, map reading and outdoor ethics. This trip is designed to empower women and help them connect with nature by teaching them the skills they need to feel confident in the outdoors and in life.
Trips are “expedition style”, which means everyone works together to carry the gear, cook meals, and perform camp chores. But don’t worry, even if you have never been camping before I will teach you everything you need to know!
Do you want to?
Get away from everything
Focus on yourself
Improve YOUR health and wellbeing
Improve YOUR happiness and inner peace
Have fun and laughter
Improve YOUR abundance
Be with like minded people
Step out of YOUR comfort zone
Improve YOUR self-worth and self-esteem
Then this trip is for YOU!
Your guide will take care of all the details regarding planning, packing, what to expect and what gear to bring through a pre-trip zoom call.
(full, detailed itinerary sent upon registration)
Meet at the designated meeting spot at 9AM. Directions sent upon registration & payment. We'll divvy up food and gear, circle up, set intentions and set out on our journey by ferry across the Manitou Passage. Hike, Set up camp, Dinner & sleep under a blanket of stars to the sound of crashing waves.
Hot beverages & breakfast. Morning circle, meditation and intention setting. Maybe an invigorating Lake Michigan dip! Pack for guided hike across the island. Afternoon open to wild exploration and paying special attention to cultivating intimacy with nature. After dinner we’ll practice a group activity & story time.
Hot beverages & breakfast. Pack up and hike back. Lunch enjoyed along the way. Before arriving at dock to meet the ferry we will have final gratitude circle, say our goodbyes as we step into a new appreciation of life affirming nature, path and self!
Back at cars by or before ~5:30pm
What is provided?
I provide all the group gear, food, and guidance for each trip. Group gear includes tents/hammocks, cookware, stoves, first aid kit, water treatment, navigation, ferry tickets and permits. Hammocks or 2-person tents are available. Food menus are tailored for each trip based on the group’s dietary needs and preferences. I’m well know for my backcountry meals; we will eat well, and delicious snacks are plentiful!
What do i need?
You will need personal gear, including clothing and hiking boots, as well as a backpack, sleeping bag, and ground pad. A super detailed packing list will be provided upon registration. If you don’t already own the necessary items, I’ll provide descriptions, examples, and guidance on options for buying or you can rent them from me for additional charge.
is it safe?
Adventures in the wilderness have inherent risks, but I work to lessen those risks through preparation and education. For example, we’ll properly store our food at night, learn how to correctly operate camp stoves, stay together as a group, and prepare for a variety of weather conditions. The National Park Service does have a ranger station located on the island.
Am I in good enough shape?
Don’t worry, I’m a mature woman and feel that backpacking is all about enjoying the wilderness, it’s NOT about how quickly you move through it! We hike at a leisurely pace, enjoy the views (and snacks!), and support each other along the way. If you can walk/jog a 5K, that is a pretty good indication that you can do these trips. It’s a always good idea to put some weight in your pack and practice walking around with it before the trip. Some destinations have elevations, so it is normal to have more shortness of breath than you would have during a hike on level ground.
Will I be comfortable?
If you follow the guidance provided with the detailed packing list, you should have everything you need to stay warm and dry, and to sleep well at night. I’ll help you properly fit your pack for comfort, prevent blisters, and teach you to listen to your body. As with any physical endeavor, you should anticipate some mild aches and pains – these just prove how much you have accomplished!
Am i too old? too young?
I’ve hike with women from the ages of 10 to 67, and everything in between! Women who haven’t backpacked in years may rediscovered their love of the experience, and women of different generations have formed close connections. Participants under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a guardian. There is no minimum age for private trips, but the minimum age for general trips is 13.
Can we carpool?
Yes, some women choose to carpool to Leland, even if they don’t know each other before the trip. Upon registration you can join a private group to communicate with others going on the trip. Others have found that the drive is surprisingly easy to do solo.
Meet your leader
Heather Zigler is an experienced International Tour Guide who has led women to far away regions on the planet including: Belize, Patagonia, New Zealand and Antarctica. An outdoor guide, backpacker, nature-based mentor, and storytelling goddess. She is super excited to share with you the place where her fierce passion for the outdoors was born, Northern Michigan. Heather creates a strong, compassionate, loving environment that facilitates deep healing and sacred connection to the wilderness. Every woman can open up, be real and reimagine herself while finding a new community of friends.
maximum enrollment 6 person
minimum enrollment 2 person
July 15, 16, 17
aug 12, 13, 14
Aug 19, 20, 21
"Heather brought myself and my two daughters on our first backpacking experience on North Manitou Island. She helped us prepare the things we needed and showed us how to pack our backpack properly. We felt safe while we were there. She also made us gourmet backpacking food. We learned a lot while we were out there with her. It was a great experience full of wonderful memories. I would highly recommend her for a guided backpacking adventure."
"Ally and I got our first weekend backpacking experience with Heather. It was noting short of amazing. Trial and errors. Lots of poison ivy, bushwacking our own trail in flip flops and bikinis, heavy packs, AMAZING sunrises, stone skipping, tropical and crystal clear blue water, epic adventure, amazing camp meals and the most amazing people.
If you're looking for an amazing experience whether you are experienced or beginner, Heather is amazing. Ally and I couldn't be more thankful for such a beautiful person to enter into our lives."