I “met” Melissa a few weeks ago when she joined our Summit Goal Setting Group. Instantly I was impressed with her enthusiasm and drive to set big goals. But I knew that I had to interview her as soon as I read a blog post she wrote called, A letter to my daughter: Why I am not afraid to hike in the deep dark woods and you shouldn’t be either which went positively viral when I shared it on our facebook page so I knew you all would want to meet Melissa too. I feel like Melissa is a kindred spirit and if she lived in Wyoming, instead of the north shore of Lake Superior in a little place called “Wawa,” I know that we’d be the best of friends.
I hope you enjoy the interview.
- What or who inspired you to become an “outdoor woman?”
My parents introduced me to camping and spending time outdoors as a young child but it wasn’t until university, where I met my husband, that I dove deep into backcountry camping via hiking and canoeing. It is his energy and passion for exploration and adventure that has fueled my own desire to push myself. We were lucky to be living in North Bay, Ontario at the time and had access to endless parks, such as Algonquin and Killarney, both of which are beautiful to canoe and hike. Since then we have explored many of the trails in Ontario, traveled other countries on a shoestring budget, and hiked the Appalachian Trail.
- What are your goals?
The newest and best adventure in my life started this June with the birth of my daughter, Tinsley. My goals in life are now focused on raising her the best way I know how – on a trail with a backpack. I truly believe that some of life’s greatest lessons can be learned out in nature and that is where I am determined to raise my daughter. I have recently started a blog called Love. Nature. Baby. I am hoping to inspire myself and others to adventure in the outdoors with our little ones. My goals are now focused on teaching her how hard work and determination in life will get you as far as you can dream. I hope I succeed.
- What is your favorite outdoor activity?
My favorite outdoor activity is backcountry camping via hiking. There is something about being your own pack animal, carrying all you need to survive on your back, that appeals to me. Nothing beats sitting down around the campfire at the end of a long day of hiking. I love feeling exhausted and sore, but deserving of natural beauty around me. I also love backcountry camping from a canoe or kayak, mountain biking, spring ice fishing, and snowshoeing. I am basically up for anything outside.
- What do you get from nature? Why is this connection important to you?
If there is one thing that I have learned from all the time that I have spent outside is that nature is a selfless gift-giver. I think all who enjoy the outdoors can agree that nature and its’ endless beauty gives us all the gift of peace, joy, and happiness. It can also give us the feeling of accomplishment and success when we complete a hike or trip. I have been given the gift of a soul-mate who I found through our mutual love for nature and adventure and a career working as a biologist for Ontario.
(Warning: If you’re a dog lover you’re gonna need a kleenex for this part)
One of the greatest gifts I have received came in the form of a dog who has since become one of my best friends. When thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, my then fiancé and I stumbled upon an abandoned dog. We first encountered him at a road crossing in the middle of nowhere in Pennsylvania. He was disheveled and starving, was covered in ticks from head to toe, but happily followed us down the trail when I offered him a granola bar. We took him to the vet, bought him a backpack, named him Blaze after the white blazes on the AT, and finished the rest of the trail with him at our side. He is a joy to be around and a constant reminder of one of our greatest accomplishments. I always tell people he was a gift from the Appalachian Trail.
I am forever grateful for Blaze, my husband, my career, and the lifetime worth of memories that I hold dear to my heart. The greatest thing about nature and the outdoors is that the gifts are there for everyone to take, you just have to get on your boots and get out there to get them!
- Do you have a blog or are you on any social media sites? Where can we follow your adventures?
I have recently started a blog called Love. Nature. Baby. I share content on how to get outside with a baby and dogs. I hope to encourage and inspire other parents to raise their kids in connection with nature, not apart from it.
- Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I would just like to provide some words of encouragement for anyone who wants to start adventuring outdoors. There is a vast wealth of knowledge out there to draw confidence from and there are even more people willing to introduce others to the outdoors. I get a lot of joy from bringing friends on their first hiking trip or taking people to an epic outdoor spot, and I know other people do too. The opportunities are endless you just have to take the first step and get out there.
Thank you so much for the interview, Melissa. You’ve inspired me to cherish the memories that can only come when we’re on a trail.
Who inspires YOU! Who should I interview next? Leave me a comment below or on our facebook page.
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