Before taking care of my family and building a business, I hiked.
I grew up in a flat, rural town in southwestern Ontario, Canada. We may have gone on a few short walks in a nearby forest when I was young, but that was about it.
One summer I worked in Banff, Alberta, taking day hikes either solo or with friends. The Canadian Rockies were incredible to explore, especially Larch Valley and the Sentinel Pass trail. It was a challenging hike where you came to a scenic valley surrounded by 10 peaks above a lake. After my first visit, I was hooked.
Geologycourses drew me into nature often, where I mapped outcrops and studied different terrains. I spent several summers in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut hiking, studying and exploring northern Canada.
I’ve always loved a good challenge and hiking certainly is that. Making decisions along the way, seeing a different perspective, being engulfed in a forest, starting out in shorts and ending up in snowfall. Getting to the top of a pass or mountain is an incredible accomplishment—it’s tough and magical.
My hiking boots may have started in the Canadian Rockies, but they eventually led to Tasmania—Crater Falls, Wineglass Bay—then onto northern Thailand—somewhere around Chiang Mai. That was perhaps the hottest hike ever.
Annapurna Circuit in Nepal was the longest and most exhausting eight days. It was very challenging, and my new boots resulted in a lot of blisters early on. The Himalayas were breathtaking. While my hiking partner got altitude sickness at one of our highest points, we soldiered on and enjoyed ending each night in a different village.
In Bolivia, we took a treacherous bus ride for hours to start to a four-day hike amid a very stark, isolating landscape that was beautiful. And in Palau, Micronesia, the fun day hikes included plenty of waterfalls.
Locally, days hikes have included Mount Katahdin in Maine and the northern part of the Long Trail in Vermont near the Canadian border—one of the toughest terrains deep in the woods.
When my now-teenage son was younger, we’d hit the Mount Battie trail at the end of our street. Now we enjoy trails that lead to a beach, with Graham always first on the trail.
My husband is more of a water guy. He was a raft guide and whitewater kayaked on the weekends in West Virginia for 10 years. He’s just as connected to nature, but water is where he’d prefer to be.
While I’ve loved being away for days, submerged in the wilderness, these days I’m content with short day hikes. I don’t miss the blisters, heavy backpacks, constantly damp feet and harsh elements, but I am grateful for all the miles I spent trekking throughout the world. It gave me a deeper appreciation of the rugged beauty of the natural world. I think that’s why I feel so obligated to help preserve it—so it will be there for all hikers to enjoy.
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