Lisa Munniksma

Name: Lisa Munniksma

Hometown: Lexington, Ky.

Occupation: freelance writer, editor, farmer

Favorite place to hike: Red River Gorge, Ky. I’ve hiked all over the world, but I keep coming home to my favorite place!

What’s one book you’d recommend to a friend and why:  What’s with these hard questions?! Depletion and Abundance, by Sharon Astyk, is one that has been front-of-mind for me lately. (You expected me to say Wild or Eat, Pray, Love, didn’t you? Well, those are on my favorites list, too!) Sharon writes about societal issues and makes a call to action for self-sufficiency rather than accepting system dependency. This central idea is part of what made me change the course of my life in 2011, leaving a corporate job for a life lived more fullytraveling, farming, working with food and spending as many waking moments as possible outdoors. Depletion and Abundance tackles tough issues—such as the choice to have children, living with a lower impact on the planet, and what happens when the food trucks stop running—but doesn’t scream doomsday prepper. (OK, it does a little bit.) I take this book as a good reminder of the world that we could be living in soon, and I appreciate its simple approach to real things every person could be doing today to simplify and improve our own lives.

What’s your favorite thing to cook for dinner: Anything vegetable related. I’m not entirely vegetarian, but as an organic farmer and responsible-food advocate, I don’t eat meat unless I agree with where it came from. (In case you’re wondering, “The grocery store,” is not an acceptable answer.) I love food so much that choosing a favorite is actually really difficult!

For the purposes of easy and healthy, I’ll go with veggie curry. It’s fast, i haven’t found a way to screw it up, and you can make it with any combination of vegetables that you have on hand. My favorite combo is sweet potato, eggplant, okra and kale. Chop ‘em up and sauté them with lots of garlic. Add a can of coconut milk—none of that low-fat business, either—Thai curry paste, grated ginger and whatever other seasonings you’d like. Let it simmer for a bit.

Serve it over a grain, like rice or quinoa, or just eat it out of a bowl with a spoon alongside a friend. If you want more protein, add cooked chickpeas, organic tempeh cooked in (organic) tamari or locally farmed, responsibly sourced chicken.

If you’re going car-camping this weekend, this is totally campfire-cookable!

What’s your favorite quote:Adventure is always the right answer.” (That’s what I say, anyway!)

If you could hike with anyone, dead or alive who would be and why: My parents. My mom and dad are not “outdoorsy” people. We never hiked or camped when I was a kid, rather hiking was something I found with a friend in high school. I was able to share a little piece of the Red River Gorge with them in 2015, when we went to Natural Bridge State Park and they rode the skylift to the top. That’s a view I’ve been taking in since 2002—and I’ve since found many sights more amazing than this one—but I hadn’t gotten to share it with them until last year. Both of my parents have some trouble getting around, so going to Natural Bridge was challenging but oh-so-important to me. It’s hard to explain to someone the reasons why you do something so often when that “something” can’t be put into words. It’s an entirely different experience when you can show them and let nature speak for itself.

What the one piece of gear that always has a place in your backpack: Honestly, I always have my flask! Particularly for cold-weather hiking, a sip of bourbon while sitting on a rock at the top of a ridgeline is something nice, and the flask always brings smiles around the fire at night, no matter what time of year we’re out there.

More practically, I also always have my Swiss Army knife. What can’t you do with that? Not much.

If you could drop what you’re doing right now and had unlimited funds what’s the one place you’d go hiking: All over South America. I have been engaged with long-term, independent travel since 2011. All of the time I have spent away has confirmed that I really do like home, but I know I’m not finished getting in quality time with my rucksack! Estoy aprendiendo español (I am learning Spanish), and Central and South America are next on my list! A close adventure friend is currently exploring the region, and I hope to catch up to her during the winter.

Where can we find you on the internet:

Is there anything else you’d like to add: It’s hard to imagine where my life would be if not for the outdoors. I had horses for a long time, and they were my passion during those years. (They will be again, some day.) Hiking—alone, with a significant other, with a small group or with a whole troop of friends for my annual birthday outing—has brought me to some of the quietest, most remote, most beautiful places I could visit. I have memories of staring down Matka Canyon while solo hiking in Macedonia, gobbling like turkeys with my closest friends at Gobbler’s Arch in Kentucky, and meandering down a well-traveled trail with my sister and young nephew at Merrill Creek Reservoir in New Jersey. I experienced solo hikes that consumed me with loneliness and those that toppled me with fulfillment. I took off on travels that involved solo camping and learning about myself in ways others could only experience if they’d turn off their televisions, ignore the talking heads and go outside. This life would not be the same if it weren’t for adventure.

(Photo: Lisa hiking in Vikos Gorge, Greece by Anna Ellis.)