THIRTY YEARS LATER The Journey of a Lifetime or a Lifetime of Journeys?

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(IN honor of my 2nd book being brought back into print this spring by The Mountaineers Books, Seattle- I was asked to write a front note)

When I first heard a successful thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail (AT) billed as ‘The Journey of a Lifetime’ I thought, “Shit, I’m young, is this really gonna be it? Do I really have to stop?”

The answer was “NO!”

I moved naturally from the Appalachian Trail onto the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). Along the way I met another long distance hiker, Todd Gladfelter who turned out be the one for me. We married, built a handmade log home from scratch and live a pretty simple life near the Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania.

After we had two children, we did not want to stop adventuring. From 1993 to 1998, we took our two young children on a 3,100-mile traverse of the Rockies from Canada to Mexico with llamas. This journey became the subject of my sixth book, Scraping Heaven- A Family’s Journey Along the Continental Divide. (CDT)


Once Sierra and Bryce grew too big to ride llamas, we moved onto long distance paddling and cycling adventures. We did a combo of home schooling, public schooling and then ‘world schooling.’ By the time the children left for college, they had been to fifteen countries.

Since the PCT and becoming a parent, it has been my passion in life and in my writing career to show parents another way. My goal is to inspire parents to yank their children away from their screens and immerse them into the natural world; to show them how to create the life they imagine, however unconventional. My new book shows how I used the whole (and natural) world to alternatively raise and educate my kids- illustrated by my son, Bryce.

This year, Todd and I are celebrating  thirty years of ‘marital bliss,’ which started on the PCT. It is also the 20th anniversary of beginning the CDT. We will celebrate by re-hiking 100 miles of Colorado’s San Juans with llamas! Long distance hiking taught me that I could have the life that I wanted, with many adventures. It didn’t have to stop at the Canadian border.

12 thoughts on “THIRTY YEARS LATER The Journey of a Lifetime or a Lifetime of Journeys? Leave a comment

  1. Glad to hear you’re still engaged with long distance hiking Cindy! And thanks for “A Woman’s Journey…” which I gave to my future wife to read back in 1987. I still think it’s one of the best A.T. books! All the best!

  2. I just finished the “Teton Wilderness” chapter in Scraping Heaven ( it’s my favorite so far ). Your 1st book brought back memories of hippy hitchhiking days and wandering around in the Rockies outside of Boulder, CO. I will get this one next but Amazon is not listing a new edition. Where should I go for it? Then, I will bring it with me on our visit so you can sign it for me, right?

    1. Hey Ken- my new pub date is just this fall- so Amazon would not have it listed yet- I will keep you posted. They will sell it. Yes, you better deliver it to my home to get it signed. I’m gonna hold you to that!

  3. Hi Cindy,

    Congrats on everything you and Todd have accomplished. I grew up with Todd and spent a few years skateboarding with him and Brent. The weekend he went on the AT trail hike as part of a history project changed him. I still remember the look on his face when I saw him after that hike. He was hooked. It is really, really cool to see how you two have lived your lives doing what you love to do and raising a family along the way. I’ve always been interested in the things that you do as a lifestyle but I’ve made choices which have only resulted in my dreaming of doing what you and Todd do every day. Keep on doing what you’re doing. It is pretty awesome.


    1. how extemely sweet Chuck- thank you! You must come up and see us sometime. My husband does not score high points in keeping in touch with old friends but he would love to see you. Why don’t you take a ride up here some time and reconnect?? Share a meal.

  4. Wow, I can remember reading, “Journey on the Crest” in 1985, when I was just 14 years old! Congratulations, Cindy!

    1. oh that is scary Toby! I was told by my son Bryce that when I turned 50 years old I was officially a geezette (the female version of a geezer), I do not feel any different than I did thirty years ago and can do everything that I could do then too. So what the hell difference does time make? Expect we have less of it to schedule adventures! So let’s play away!

  5. I just now found your blog after having Journey on the Crest keep me company on the subway for the last week or so. Paul and I are starting our PCT thru-hike adventure June 1st 2013, and your book has been my favorite read so far 🙂

    I’m glad I can keep up with you on the blogosphere now too!

    1. Thank you dear Katharine- my PCT book is coming back into print this fall after a long hiatus- i appreciate the kind words, esp now that I am working on a new book and can use the support

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