(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.