Chapter 25: Ashley (Minnesota)

Hi, I’m Ashley @the_gentleman_lumberjack I’ve always loved being outdoors and wanted to be “an explorer” since I was a kid. In fact, it’s the reason why I majored in Anthropology for my undergrad. I imagined backpacking to remote places for digs or cultural immersions. With that said, I didn’t really start “hiking” until college when time, money, and freedom aligned to help me take a few trips with a local backpacking group. I learned so much and knew I’d found my personal peace. That peace is still one of the main motivations in getting out there. I work a corporate job and sometimes a long hike can feel like church when I need a mental and emotional reset.

My wife has a few chronic health issues that doesn’t allow her to get out with our family. The biggest challenge over the years is trail accessibility for her. It’s is getting so much better then it used to be but it’s still very difficult in many cases or the risk isn’t worth the reward and she just can’t participate in the hike or trip at all. Those moments hurt.

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My most rewarding moments come from seeing my teenage daughters lose their “social norms” concerns after a day on the trail and focus on helping each other and showcasing new leadership skills. It always amazes me what they are capable of and every time they finish a trail I see just a little more confidence in their eyes.

If you want to start hiking and getting outdoors, my advice would be just go. It doesn’t have to be the AT or PCT. You don’t need a lot of fancy gear. Go to your local park or trail system and start walking. As you progress, adjust your mileage and terrain. Our bodies are amazing and given some time, you’ll surprise yourself with what it can do. I’d also say take a friend. The conversations are always amazing once you lose the distractions of the city. You’re focused on just walking and your partners words. It’s powerful I assure you.

Thanks for sharing your story Ashley 😊

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