Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Let's get adventurous

I’ve told you a bit about the bucket list I started back in 2005. And I’ve told you some about my renewed love of hiking. So where did all these fancy ideas take me next? Adventures! Sounds so silly and childish to say I love adventures, but that’s probably why I like to say it.

I told you in an earlier post about my interest in Deerfield Spa and how I’d read about them in one of my fitness magazines. Well, another business that caught my eye was Adventures in Good Company, a travel company offering “trips for adventurous women who want an active vacation and love being outdoors.” I kept them in mind and here and there I’d check out their website, to see their offerings and read what others said about them. I liked what I saw and was pretty sure I wanted to try a trip with them, but I was comfortable with the always enjoyable Deerfield week. That was it. Comfortable? Time to mix it up! So 2009 was the year I decided to give it a go and try something new. An adventure!

So right after the new year I signed up for Slackpacking Georgia, a week-long October trip. Seemed like a good place to start. The trip offered hiking all day every day for a week through the fall foliage of Dahlonega, Georgia, carrying only a day pack. We’d start at Springer Mountain, the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail, and work our way through sections each day, with a van shuttling a small group of us back and forth. After a tough day on the trail, we’d arrive back to a new hostel reserved just for us, with warm showers, the promise of delicious food and plenty of it, and comfy beds at night. This was right up my alley. 
The group starting out at Springer Mountain on the Appalachian Trail.
The trip turned out to be a game changer, an excellent choice for me. It was so exhilarating and challenging to hike with the small group of like-minded women through the week. Our two guides were amazing and really made our trip memorable. The food was great like they said. And we could eat lots of it because we were burning mega-calories every day.

Sounds like a dream vacation, right? As long as you know what you’re in for. No, the reality was it was hard work, damn hard work. But I wouldn’t ever trade that experience. The sense of accomplishment I felt at the end of the trip was worth all the blood (my tootsies) and sweat (mine and the bears) on the trail.

On top of the world.
I know that all sounds heavenly, but I won’t romanticize adventures since it’s really important to be honest and accurately assess what you need to do to get yourself there. The company website with trip descriptions and ratings accurately reflects what you’ll experience, so if you’re thinking about an adventure for yourself, read carefully and call if you have any questions.

I see now two years later that the trip I took was upgraded (or is that downgraded?) from a level 4 (difficult) rating to a 5 (most difficult), which is a good call in my estimation. That trip was hard work. One woman in our group gave herself the adventure for her 50th birthday and had to sit out here and there since she hadn’t really trained as suggested. Seriously, I began training and hiking to be ready from the time I signed up in January, right up until I left on the plane in October. And thank goodness! I’m not sure I would have made it without that rigorous regimen.

I notice that the adventure company now offers a new service, Fit for Trips, "a fitness program designed to help you prepare for your next adventure.” Obviously, someone smart saw a need and jumped to fill it. Not a bad idea to give yourself some structure to ensure you have fun and make your goal!

So what am I doing lately? Am I deterred by hard work? No! I've started training again. And I’m dreaming about my next adventure! Yes, I’m scouring the Adventures in Good Company website, but I’m also perusing Travel with REI and interested in trips I see on Backroads.com. I’ve heard firsthand from friends who’ve tried each of these other companies that the trips delivered and they had an awesome time like I did on my adventure. It’s always nice to get a referral from someone you know who had a good experience.

Thinking about my next adventure.
For me, one of the most attractive benefits of going through a travel or adventure company is that you don’t have to do any of the planning, a boon for a busy working mom. Ah, so much to think about! So much to do and so many places to see! I want to visit every national park (lots still to go!) and continue to section-hike the Appalachian Trail. Where should I go next? What adventure awaits?

And where do you want to head next? Let me know if there’s a trip you’re contemplating or have scheduled. I’d love to hear from you!

Until next time, yours in fun and adventure…Therese


  1. What a great description of the beginnings of your hiking passion. I like the idea of the food and bed ready for you at the end of the day without having to prepare yourself. Does your husband go on the adventures with you, or is this a solo endeavor?

  2. Yes, Jamar, it is nice to have a good meal cooked for you after a long day on the trail. Yes, hubby has become adventurous along the way. We hiked the alps in Switzerland, Austria, and Germany on our Rick Steves excursion, and last year we did Mt. Lam Lam in Guam. He's done the Green Ribbon Trail two years now with me, and is a great companion when I scout out locations for Hiker Chicks. But I certainly go out on my own. It was my passion to start. And hubby has his weekends with the guys at Notre Dame with the Fightin' Irish. It's even more fun together when we've had a chance to miss the other while doing what makes us happy. How 'bout you? You have a hiking buddy?