We are so stoked for Ambassador Val as she plans for her hike of the Appalachian Tai!  We think you’re adorable too Val, but also a badass woman who doesn’t take “that’s not possible” for an answer. 

Have you read, “A Walk in the Woods” by Bill Bryson? It’s a book about the Appalachian Trail – a long-distance hiking trail on the East Coast. By the time this book was published, I’d been dreaming about thru-hiking the trail for almost 30 years. I was little – like 5 or 6 years old – when I first heard of the trail. An old Army buddy of my dad’s had recently spent some time on the trail, and he was telling him all about it. They thought I was asleep (an old trick to make grown-ups talk freely about “adult” stuff in my presence), but I was fascinated! The very next morning, I packed my “stuff” a la Tom Sawyer and announced my plans to go hiking. I was pronounced “adorable” and then “incorrigible” when I refused to take “no” for an answer. The dream was born.

Unfortunately, my parents soon divorced, and I was packed off to L.A. and then a dozen or so cities and towns on the West Coast – far from the AT. Fast forward 20 years and my husband, son and I move back to Virginia. “I’m so glad to back! I’m going to go hike the AT!” Again, my husband said that I was “adorable” and then “incorrigible” when I told him that I was serious. Needless to say, I packed my dream away again.

I read Mr. Bryson’s book when it was released and although it made me laugh, it also made me cry. I was still mourning for my dream when we moved to Germany several years later. The fact that I wasn’t allowed to work due to my husband’s Visa restrictions and a recent empty nest had opened up an unexpected opportunity though… I could go hiking! And boy did I hike!

I hiked all over Germany and France and Austria! I was in heaven.

Alas, all good things must end, or should I say, “for every closed door a window opens”?  Whichever cliché applies, we had to leave Europe, but we moved back to…wait for it…. Virginia!! So, here I am: I’m 55 years old, I have grouchy knees, I’m an asthmatic and I’m definitely “fluffy” but who cares? I’m hiking the AT this year! I’m starting Southbound this summer – which means I’ll have to be ready to deal with the hardest parts right off the bat, but I can’t wait!


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Hey y’all! It’s my, Michelle @dignthegarden , last post! Ice enjoyed showing y’all some of our East Tennessee beauty. But, I can’t leave without showing you the Smokies! I hiked up Alum Cave Trail to Mt Leconte today and as follows, 1) Alum Cave Bluff 2) My favorite bluff view 3) Hemlock trail near Leconte Lodge 4) Leconte Lodge 5) Almost at Cliff Tops 6)me at Cliff Tops 7) bold squirrel 8) Mtn View 9) Mtn View 10) Mtn stream Y’all come see me sometime! #hikelikeawoman #hikerchat #hlawamBADASSador #instagramtennessee #outdoorwomen #forceofnature #optoutside #sharetheadventure #wildwomenadventurers #womenwhohike #easttennessee #865life #tristaradventures #365challenge #10kwomen #smokymountains #friendsofthesmokies #yourlead #whereiwander #getoutside #mtnchicks #sheexplores #SHEnanigans #stompingdirt

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Over the next few months, I’ll be researching, gathering and testing my gear, figuring out my food, planning resupply boxes and stopovers, and getting this old body in shape. This is going to be an adventure – to get ready for the adventure – and I’m raring to go!

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