Hiking

Want to hike like a Ninja? Better check with your Trail Mom first.

Miss janet

I’ve seen the movies, so I know all about Ninjas. These solitary creatures move unseen and unheard from destination to destination, accomplishing impossible feats with superhuman agility and stamina. For big moments that require every last ounce of awesomeness, there’s even a blood-curdling battle cry.

Those of you with experience in the outdoors probably already know that Ninja-ing is exactly the same as long-distance hiking. Sure, the metal cups, poop shovels, and Crocs dangling from our 40lb packs tend to make a racket when we stumble over rocks and roots, but if no one is around to hear it, it’s just as good as silence. And we all know that those bi-hourly Snickers breaks aren’t pauses to catch our breath or contemplate the sanity of climbing the mountain in front of us; we’re just giving the mountain a chance to submit to our greatness before we show it who’s boss. Our battle cry (which is sure to elicit a reaction from even the most hard-hearted): “Crap! Where the hell did I leave my toilet paper?”

I understand if you have a few lingering suspicions about your ability to join the elite ranks of Ninja-ing hikers. If it weren’t for the timely advice and encouragement of the Appalachian Trail’s Sensei, I’d probably be right there with you.

 

Some might call her the Appalachian Trail Sensei, I call her Trail Mom.

You don’t have to spend days learning to “paint-a-fence,” “wax on/wax off” or get a membership at the Cobra-Ki Dojo to gain access to the Appalachian Trail Sensei. In fact, she is an ubiquitous presence (and has been for more than 6 years) along the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. Her name is Miss Janet, and her life mission is helping hikers.

Three years ago, at about this time of year, I was a few days into what would become my first long-distance hike. The shoulder strap on my top-of-the-line pack was held on place with duct tape and a prayer. My blisters already had blisters. What was supposed to be my first relaxing night with hot food and a cozy bed turned out to be a sleepless night on a plywood platform over a general store in a micro-town called Suches. The following morning, as I stared out at a frosty morning, I knew I couldn’t make it much farther. Our first big mountain, Blood Mountain, stood between me and the nearest outfitter. I was embracing my inner quitter when another hiker gave me Miss Janet’s phone number. “Call her. She’ll get you squared away.”

She cut me off in the middle of a rambling, excuse-laden rant that I thought I’d need to convince her to come to my rescue: “Sweetie, you just sit tight. I’m planning to swing by in about an hour. You’re gonna be fine.”

 

We don’t have to learn ALL our lessons the hard way

By the time she arrived, there were nearly a dozen hikers waiting. I wasn’t the only one that was caught unprepared. Our breath formed frost clouds that blended into a visible, collective sigh of relief as her enormous sticker-clad van “Bounce Box” pulled up. Packs and people piled in. When it was my turn to hop on board, I took a shot at one more round of justification for “skipping” a section of the Trail. “I feel dirty for jumping ahead, but my pack won’t make it, and my feet won’t make it with this pack on my back.”

She looked at my pack and said, “Honey, you don’t get extra credit for hiking stupid. But if it doesn’t sit right with you to skip Blood Mountain, you go right ahead. Your pack and I will meet you at Mountain Crossings Outfitter on the other side.”

 A few minutes later, armed with no more than a water bottle, water filter, and plenty of snacks, I was on my way up and over Blood Mountain. Miss Janet had introduced me to the joys of “Slack-Packing.”

 

A handful of hiking epiphanies that double as life lessons

I could easily share a dozen Miss Janet stories from the past three years, and if we were to get a handful of hikers together, that number would increase exponentially. Here’s a few tips I credit her with that might be useful, even if you’re not a hiker:

  • The trail isn’t 2,200 miles, it’s a series of 5-7 day hikes connected by town stops. (While Lao Tzu said something similar with: “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” I’m pretty sure Miss Janet said it first)
  • Hike light, freeze at night. (Those of us that choose to leave everything, and everyone, behind can travel faster. But it sure gets miserable when something goes wrong.)
  • I know you lost 30, 40, even 50lbs on this hike, but over the next few months, you’re going to gain it all back along with an additional 10% unless you learn to kick that Snickers, Doritos, and PopTart habit.
  • Post-Trail Depression is real. (I’m convinced these last two are related)

 

Feel free to share any others I didn’t mention below in the comments section if the urge strikes. (and of course, if you just want to tell me how awesome I am, that’s always fine too)

 

The real Magic of Miss Janet

Miss Janet offers a valuable service by shuttling hikers, helping with gear adjustments, and providing priceless pearls of practical advice. (For those of you keeping track of this week’s alliteration string, 4 “P”s is the number to beat.) However, the real magic of Miss Janet is in her contribution to the entire Trail Community. I’m going to gush a bit here, but her very presence creates the biggest moving population of hikers, or “Hiker Bubbles.” She connects hikers with each other, with hiker-friendly faces in Trail Towns, and through social media, with friends and family back home. What does she charge for all this?

Here’s her fee table:

 

Forgetting something in the Bounce Box: one video-taped dance that may get posted to Facebook.

Selective cases of “Quit-itis”: wearing a set of multicolored balls that look like van-sized Mardi Gras beads until you get your own balls back

Fear of hiking the White Mountains: Hike in a stylish dress (not included)

 

All other services and advice: DONATION

 

That last word isn’t a typo. And when I chatted with Miss Janet to make sure I hadn’t made any egregious errors, she gave me the thumbs up to share a phone number for hikers and their support teams, along with her Instagram address @themissjanet for those that want to enjoy some of her photos. I’m sure she’d be happy to include her Facebook info as well, but Facebook limits her to 5,000 followers at a time.

Bounce Box

 

111 Comments

  • Reply MiraSG March 12, 2017 at 1:00 am

    Highly enjoyable read!!

    • Reply Gabriel March 12, 2017 at 4:06 am

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a compliment Mira. I can’t find ANYTHING to fault in the judgement of anyone that enjoys my writing/sketches 😉

  • Reply Buffy Devane March 12, 2017 at 3:53 am

    Another winner of a post, good sir.
    Ah, we all could do with a Miss Janet in our lives, I think, even if she frightens us! (That is, she’d certainly frighten me…)

    • Reply Gabriel March 12, 2017 at 4:09 am

      So true. I’ve been thinking recently about what altruistic love really is. People like Miss Janet make it a little easier to believe in.

      • Reply Buffy Devane March 12, 2017 at 10:01 am

        Ah, that’s lovely… yes, when we’re considering concepts like that (which I very much believe in) it’s good to have a living, breathing illustration. 🙂

        Haha and yes, the firm hand with the heart of gold, I get that…!

    • Reply Gabriel March 12, 2017 at 4:12 am

      hehehe and as far as Miss Janet being frightening, aside from those rowdy few who earn her wrath and force her to break out her enormous wooden spoon, she’s a model of what Trail Mom’s should be 😉

  • Reply Mick Canning March 12, 2017 at 5:37 am

    She sounds a fantastic person! And as far as her first piece of advice is concerned, in the ‘real world’ I teach rock climbing and one piece of advice I always give is ‘forget what’s up at the top. Just concern yourself with the next move and get it right.’

    • Reply Gabriel March 12, 2017 at 5:44 am

      You are a rock climbing instructor as well. That doesn’t surprise me a bit Mick. You’d be an awesome guy to sit down and have a beer or 3 with.

  • Reply usathroughoureyes March 12, 2017 at 5:50 am

    Great post Gabe. Right from the opening line we were smiling. We’ve seen a lot of movies so I guess we know a lot, lol. We like the way you know how to know and that’s by getting out there and doing it, lol.

    • Reply Gabriel March 12, 2017 at 8:09 am

      Glad to hear I sprinkled a few extra chuckles into your Sunday morning. Totally worth it.

  • Reply Maggie Wilson March 12, 2017 at 6:00 am

    So many great turns of phrase in this – “inner quitter” is the one that I can relate to most – you’d not find me on a hike of this scale.

    A fine article. It deserves wide readership.

    • Reply Gabriel March 12, 2017 at 8:11 am

      Thanks Maggie. I’m already thrilled with the quality readership we’re experiencing now, I can only imagine how much better it will get from here.

  • Reply owningitlog March 12, 2017 at 6:36 am

    Gabriel,
    For a moment I was inspired to leave the comfort of my indoor plumbing. Was it the allure of a steady stream of Snikers, Miss Janet, the challenge of the trail or all of it? Well done.

    • Reply Gabriel March 12, 2017 at 8:13 am

      Wow. I must really be onto something if your willing to give up the satisfying sensation of a simple flush. Ha! Who am I kidding, we both know its the Snickers…

  • Reply Wendy Weir March 12, 2017 at 6:52 am

    I think each of us, at our crossroad moments in whatever our passions might be, need a Miss Janet. How cool that there actually IS a Miss Janet for you! A great Sunday morning read–thanks for this!

    • Reply Gabriel March 12, 2017 at 8:15 am

      Wendy I loved this comment so much. This is exactly what I was trying to say. Glad I brightened your Sunday a bit, because you certainly did mine.

  • Reply josypheen March 12, 2017 at 7:04 am

    Miss Janet sounds like a star!! Or an Angel. I hope I get to walk along the Appalachian trail one day.

    This is sort of unrelated, but once I walked on a ninja trail in Japan. It was the walk ninja trainees used to follow between Nara and Iga. It would be so cool if you could take your ninja hiking skills and walk along that ninja trail. 😀

    • Reply Gabriel March 12, 2017 at 8:19 am

      Yes Miss Janet is a Trail Angel. And you absolutely should hike the AT if you ever get the chance.

      Now, my wife might be a bit grouchy with you because my bucket list just got a bit longer 😉

      • Reply josypheen March 12, 2017 at 12:07 pm

        Bring your wide with you. She can’t be grumpy once she sees the amazing German/Italian food and pretty views. 😀

        • Reply Gabriel March 12, 2017 at 11:25 pm

          I sure hope your right!

  • Reply Didi March 12, 2017 at 7:05 am

    Fantastic story of a beautiful person.

    We all need a “miss Janet” in our lif e sometimes even when we aren’t on a trail.

    • Reply Gabriel March 12, 2017 at 8:20 am

      Thanks Didi! She really is an amazing woman, and an essential part of what makes the Trail Community so magical.

  • Reply mydangblog March 12, 2017 at 7:17 am

    A wonderful post and a lovely tribute to a woman who sounds like a true gem. I can’t hike myself (arthritis) but I’m so happy that I get to hike vicariously through you!

    • Reply Gabriel March 12, 2017 at 8:22 am

      Thanks Suzanne! I’m sorry about your arthritis, I know it’s a pain. Sending extra spoons your way (and I won’t even offer you my dirty hiker spoon)!

      • Reply mydangblog March 12, 2017 at 2:40 pm

        Ah thanks! It’s much better than it was a couple of years ago, thanks to the job switch–less walking and a shorter commute, so more sleeping:-) Gosh, I really do like your writing style though!

        • Reply Gabriel March 12, 2017 at 11:33 pm

          You had me at “more sleeping” 😉

  • Reply The Hook March 12, 2017 at 7:24 am

    Everyone needs a Trail Mom.

    • Reply Gabriel March 12, 2017 at 8:23 am

      Your right Hook. And this is probably the only time you’ll EVER catch me proudly saying I’m a Mama’s boy.

  • Reply steveo March 12, 2017 at 7:34 am

    purposeful packers prep particularly prudently? Your stories are always enjoyed here. 🙂

    • Reply Gabriel March 12, 2017 at 8:25 am

      Steveo! You rock! I’m so happy somebody else decided to play along. And this is a killer string. I don’t know if this link will work, but I’m sending you a trio of virtual Snickers.

      Snickers Sketch

      • Reply steveo March 18, 2017 at 7:04 pm

        Well I finally caught up to your comment
        ? Thanks for the simply sweet scrumptious succulent skillfully superb splashy Snickers sketch! ?

        • Reply Gabriel March 19, 2017 at 4:24 am

          hehehe now your just showing off Steveo!

  • Reply Almost Iowa March 12, 2017 at 7:58 am

    Man, I love that painting. That smile says it all. Fabulous read. I have been thinking about doing the trail for some time now…but I think I will just keep training with my five mile walks every day with Scooter. 🙂

    • Reply Gabriel March 12, 2017 at 8:38 am

      I like this sketch quite a bit too Greg. Miss Janet is the Trail Mom everybody should have, and she was incredibly kind to let me share so much here.

      I just checked with on the official couch potato regulations, and you get double credit if you carry a mascot, so If you bring Oscar along, your covering 10 miles a day. Just sayin…

  • Reply Clay Bonnyman Evans March 12, 2017 at 8:19 am

    I think of Miss Janet as an AT bodhisattva. She returns again and again to enlighten every hiker.

    • Reply Gabriel March 12, 2017 at 8:39 am

      So true. Can you believe she’s been dedicated to the Trail for more than 30 years now (if you include her time as a hostel owner)?

  • Reply Sheri @trail2peaktheadventurouspath March 12, 2017 at 8:28 am

    You met such fascinating, giving people along your journey, Gabe. It’s so fascinating to read about them.

    • Reply Gabriel March 12, 2017 at 8:49 am

      You’re absolutely right Sheri, and while I’m tempted to lead ya’ll to believe that I’m just really lucky, or perhaps that I bring out the best in people, the truth is that the Appalachian Trail (and all long hiking trails I’ve been on thus far) are filled with amazing people that want to make meaningful connections and share their awesome awesomeness with smelly strangers.

  • Reply Alec Harper March 12, 2017 at 8:39 am

    This is how we lead long, rich lives… Enjoyable read.

    • Reply Gabriel March 12, 2017 at 8:45 am

      Very True Alec. And this is high praise from a fellow “Ninja Hiker” 😉

  • Reply the incurable dreamer March 12, 2017 at 8:59 am

    You are awesome, and this is another great post, Gabe! I will never hike the AT, so Miss Janet is someone I will never meet, but I already know I would love her. She is a blessing, and I wish the world were filled with more people like her. Kindness goes a long way, and in this case, it makes for very lasting and profound memories. Thanks for sharing her with us!

    • Reply Gabriel March 12, 2017 at 9:14 am

      You really would love Miss Janet Tanya. Although, I don’t know how much you’d like her monster van “Bounce Box.” It’s too much like a minivan on steroids 😉

  • Reply desertcurmudgeon March 12, 2017 at 9:33 am

    Again, I have to say that I love your artwork. I’ve hiked significant swaths of the Appalachian Trail, have hoofed it 12 miles in the snow from the summit of Sandia Peak to the bottom, lived in Vermont for a spell with all the obligatory hiking that comes with that, and I think the only time I would have loved Miss Janet’s assistance was on a very short trail in the Everglades National Park. Florida is hot, disgusting and full of winged creatures that swarm en masse at one’s nostrils and although the terrain is as flat as can be, it’s a place where even taking a short jaunt down a semi-paved trail quickly becomes a very, very regrettable decision.

    • Reply Gabriel March 12, 2017 at 9:38 am

      BUGS! Those vile evil wicked cruel despicable beasts. I’m pretty sure I’m still picking remnants out of my beard and ears. If I weren’t such a tree hugger at heart, you’d see me with a spray can of DEET in one hand and a torch in the other.

  • Reply Terese March 12, 2017 at 9:38 am

    I just followed Miss Janet on Insta. Her latest pic is of bear bells. BEAR BELLS?!! No thank you! 🙂

    • Reply Gabriel March 12, 2017 at 10:07 am

      You’re gonna love her photography. And if bears are potential triggers for you… I better warn you that a post I’m working on now (will probably be ready in a week) will have plenty of fun with our furry friends 😉

      But rest assured, the margaritas will still be salty and the Snickers… well, they’ll still be Snicker-y.

      • Reply Terese March 12, 2017 at 5:32 pm

        I look forward to seeing your work on bears and other furry creatures! But, not on a hiking trail. 🙂

  • Reply angelanoelauthor March 12, 2017 at 9:48 am

    Love, “Honey, you don’t get extra credit for hiking stupid.” Oh man, that quote made my day! I’m following Miss Janel on Instagram now. I cannot tell you how delighted I am each time I read one of your tales from the trail.

    • Reply Gabriel March 12, 2017 at 10:12 am

      hehehe yup she does have a way of cutting to the chase with a clever turn of phrase. You’re gonna love following her on Instagram, she is an excellent photographer as well as the perfect Trail Mom.

      Thanks so much for the encouragement Angela! The feedback fuels my blogging/sketching machine. And please feel free to let me know if I start to veer off course.

      • Reply angelanoelauthor March 12, 2017 at 2:55 pm

        I will let you know, but I suspect you know what I’ll say next: the detours can be the most interesting parts of the journey! 🙂

  • Reply Liesbet March 12, 2017 at 9:53 am

    It is so nice to know and be reminded that there are still helpful and caring people around like Miss Janet. Thanks for introducing her to us, Gabe! What a great character sketch! 🙂

    • Reply Gabriel March 12, 2017 at 10:17 am

      Thanks Liesbet! This was a really fun post to write. I felt like I was basically a reporter with the freedom to stuff a few funny quips around the a few facts that really stick out when I think about Miss Janet.

  • Reply Writing to Freedom March 12, 2017 at 10:53 am

    I hope to meet this traveling trail tourist tormentor today! Meanwhile, I have a clever carousing comic camping companion aka Gabby Gabe. XD

    • Reply Gabriel March 12, 2017 at 11:17 pm

      Now you’re just showing off Brad 😉 5 “T”s AND 5 “C”s. Is there such a thing as Double Yatzee?

      • Reply Writing to Freedom March 13, 2017 at 9:45 am

        Yes, a bit of showofff and fun. Do I win a prize? XD

        • Reply Gabriel March 14, 2017 at 4:14 am

          hehehe Actually I did put something together. I tried to include it in comments, but looks like I’m limited to sending text.

          If I can get out from underneath an overwhelming pile of Honey-Do’s, I’ll include it in tomorrow’s (Almost) Wordless Wednesday post.

          • Writing to Freedom March 14, 2017 at 9:01 am

            Uh oh. Sounds serious. Good luck with the honey-do’s!

  • Reply sandyjwhite March 12, 2017 at 11:01 am

    What a true angel Miss Janet is. It’s refreshing to hear about individuals willing to unselfishly help others. I’m sure there are many other unsung heroes out there.

    • Reply Gabriel March 12, 2017 at 11:19 pm

      She sure is. Chatted with her last night and she’s already back out on the Trail, shuttling Hikers and helping rookies get squared away before they break themselves. I would say that I don’t know where she gets the energy, but I suspect altruism is a high-efficiency fuel.

      • Reply sandyjwhite March 13, 2017 at 9:33 am

        I think you are right about altruism fueling energy and passion. Just think about people like Mother Teresa.

  • Reply Bel March 12, 2017 at 11:40 am

    “Embrace your inner ninja, dude” ? When you love what you do, you never have to work a single day in your life. Miss Janet is the epitome of what we all try to strive for…omg, your post made
    me remember a lot of my own “stupidity” when it comes to hiking but I won’t bore you with that or it will be take up an entire page. So far, I am one step closer on doing this Appalachian trail hike – and I blame you for this. I think whoever I drag along will blame you as well ? Great post…I was hooked from start to finish.

    • Reply Gabriel March 12, 2017 at 11:24 pm

      hehehe love it. Glad I could stir up a few humbling hiker rookie moments, and even gladder to hear that I’m still a bad influence. You’re gonna love hiking the AT, and I’m gonna love following you.

      I’m also going to claim extra credit for corrupting any hiker buddies you rope into joining you to 😉

      • Reply Bel March 13, 2017 at 7:08 am

        Oh, trust me…My backpack is like a friggin grocery store – oreos, kitkat, sandwiches ?…I will always be a rookie hiker. The AT might not be anytime soon – it seems like it’s gonna cost ? to make that happen.?

        • Reply Gabriel March 14, 2017 at 4:10 am

          You’re right Bel. The AT was quite a bit more pricey than I’d anticipated. I know too many hikers that had to cut their hike short because funds ran out. A trend that became really popular was Go Fund Me campaigns. However, there are too many hikers that basically wanted extra beer money so the appeal might be wearing thin, but I thought I’d throw it out there just in case.

          And thanks, now I’ve gotta get some Oreos. Haven’t had one in a few months. I’m gonna have to blame you if I start regaining some of the lost pounds I was happy to leave behind…

  • Reply Tara March 12, 2017 at 12:56 pm

    I love alliteration! And Pop Tarts… can’t give those up. Miss Janet sounds like walking kindness (literally and figuratively).

    • Reply Gabriel March 12, 2017 at 11:28 pm

      Me too. Although I’ve had to take a break from the Pop tarts until I can fit back into my skinny jeans (or come to grips with the extra fluffy version of myself).

      And Miss Janet is one-of-a-kind

  • Reply Arionis March 12, 2017 at 1:20 pm

    Excellent post Gabe. I’ve heard of Miss Janet before and I hope to meet her one day. I get a bit of the post-trail depression when I’ve only been out for the weekend. I can’t imagine what it must be like after a thru hike. Looking forward to reading your friendly/fierce furry friend feature. That might be stretching it, but I’ll still see your 4 P’s and raise you 5 F’s. 🙂

    • Reply Gabriel March 12, 2017 at 11:31 pm

      Thanks so much! I’m loving the positive feedback (and happy to bask in the reflected glory of the of Miss Janet 😉 ).

      I’m clearly out of my league. Ya’ll are making this alliteration thing look easy.

  • Reply Retirementallychallenged.com March 12, 2017 at 5:32 pm

    I really love that there are real Miss Janets out there smoothing the way for us when we find ourselves in need of a friend (or bandages, or a bit of sage advice).

    • Reply Gabriel March 12, 2017 at 11:40 pm

      Me too. I don’t know about you, but when I think back, my life has been influenced by more altruistic “Angels” than I can recall. Guess that means I really need to start paying more attention.

  • Reply aFrankAngle March 12, 2017 at 8:48 pm

    And with advice like this, you must be a Trail Yoda.

    • Reply Gabriel March 12, 2017 at 11:43 pm

      I’m beginning to look more like Yoda as the years pass by, and my butchering of the English language is nearly as fragmented, but that’s about as close to Yoda-ing as I get.

  • Reply Marc and Ann March 13, 2017 at 6:04 am

    I think I would love to meet Miss Janet! Thank you for sharing this story. Inspiring. I strive to be her for weary travelers in Cambodia.

    • Reply Gabriel March 14, 2017 at 4:05 am

      You would be a great Cambodian Miss Janet. Just be sure to keep sharing the adventures with us so we can continue to live vicariously through you all!

      • Reply Marc and Ann March 14, 2017 at 6:46 am

        Aww. Always inspiring words from you! Will do.

  • Reply Ann Coleman March 13, 2017 at 1:25 pm

    I love your picture of Miss Janet! Although I seriously doubt that I will ever attempt a long-distance hike (that bit about splitting it up into shorter daily hikes doesn’t fool me!), I love reading about your adventures in hiking. And I’m in awe of anyone who would hike “Blood Mountain,” with or without a backpack. How long has Miss Janet been helping hikers?

    • Reply Gabriel March 14, 2017 at 4:17 am

      Miss Janet has been helping (and hosting) hikers for over 30 years now. I don’t know how she does it. She seems to have limitless energy. Makes me want to take a nap just thinking about all the logistics and driving that goes into any one of her typical mornings.

      But who are we kidding… my threshold for wanting to take a nap is deliciously low.

  • Reply Ann Coleman March 13, 2017 at 1:26 pm

    And PS: I think you have earned the right to call yourself a Ninja!

    • Reply Gabriel March 14, 2017 at 4:18 am

      Sweet! I’m gonna tell Monica right now. Because I’m pretty sure Ninja’s don’t have to do laundry or Spring Cleaning 😉

  • Reply allthethings3 March 13, 2017 at 4:28 pm

    Wow, simply amazing, the gumption that people like you have! I’m hanging at the Mall of America today with my kids and I’m exhausted. I spent half my time waiting while they went on rides! I’m bumming out I have to drive us all the way back home. This sure gives me some perspective. 🙂

    • Reply Gabriel March 14, 2017 at 4:19 am

      Ha! Mall of America is no joke. You posted this comment nearly 12 hrs ago, but I wouldn’t be surprised if you weren’t still there.

  • Reply Jay March 14, 2017 at 1:37 am

    I just love the spirit in this post!

    • Reply Gabriel March 14, 2017 at 4:20 am

      Thanks Jay! People like Miss Janet make it easy.

  • Reply Amy March 14, 2017 at 6:33 am

    If we have a few more people like Miss Janet, this would be a better world. I’m so touched by the story. Thank you, Gabriel! 🙂

    • Reply Gabriel March 14, 2017 at 7:23 am

      So true Amy. A handful of evenly distributed Miss Janet’s would obviate the need for standing armies.

  • Reply candidkay March 14, 2017 at 10:26 am

    Oh, man! We need more Ms. Janets in the world! I’ve often wondered what would happen if we stopped our incessant search for money and just did things because we loved to do them, because they benefit our fellow man, etc. I have a feeling you just gave me a glimpse:).

    • Reply Gabriel March 15, 2017 at 4:51 am

      Now that I’m leading a more relaxed life, it’s far easier to appreciate Mark Twain’s advice “Make your vocation your vacation.” But I think you (and Miss Janet) are right. Dedicating our lives to things that are meaningful, and help to connect people, is a noble calling. I don’t know if I’m ready to give up the “relaxing” part of my lifestyle yet, but I hope I’m slowly heading in the right direction.

  • Reply flyingthroughwater March 14, 2017 at 1:54 pm

    She sounds incredible! Followed her on Instagram and I can’t stop giggling over her rules! 🙂

    • Reply Gabriel March 15, 2017 at 5:00 am

      Sweet Nikki! And Miss Janet truly is remarkable. You’ll like her insta feed quite a bit, especially once the hikers really start hopping back on the Trail.

      • Reply flyingthroughwater March 15, 2017 at 8:06 am

        followed you too btw! 🙂

        • Reply Gabriel March 15, 2017 at 8:33 am

          Yay! I’ll do my best to make it worth the visits Nikki.

  • Reply smackedpentax March 15, 2017 at 9:42 am

    Fantastic read – every hike needs a ninja 🙂 I read Bill Bryson’s book on the Trail, and it made me want to hike it – I probably would have given it a go too if – a) I didn’t live on another continent, and b) I didn’t have a knee replacement.

    But maybe one day….

    • Reply Gabriel March 15, 2017 at 11:36 pm

      Glad you enjoyed and thanks for following.

      I’ve been exploring your blog and it looks like you’ve taken quite a few gorgeous hikes yourself.

  • Reply bedlamanddaisies March 15, 2017 at 12:02 pm

    Miss Janet sounds awesome! What a giving spirit she must have.

    As a side note about the Appalachian Trail, one of the Instagrammers I follow, @kenton_steryous, shared that he is going to be doing some photography for @ellieontheat, who are heading out to thru hike the AT with their 1 year old.

    • Reply Gabriel March 15, 2017 at 11:50 pm

      Wow! A one year old… THAT will require some logistical gymnastics. I had a hard enough time getting myself through, I can’t imagine how a family with a one-year old will manage.

      Looks like I better dust off my instagram account and check this out.

      • Reply bedlamanddaisies March 16, 2017 at 2:19 pm

        I can’t even begin to imagine what it will be like, but I am interested in watching to see.

  • Reply sarsm March 17, 2017 at 3:25 am

    I read this and had to think of my daughter. She is a ninja! Actually two of my daughters are!! They train 5 hours a week with swords and in body combat. Anyway, the daughter I thought of when I read this was my oldest ninja. She is actually going on a hike in the Alps in September for 5 days!!

    • Reply Gabriel March 17, 2017 at 3:32 am

      Really? That’s awesome (on both counts). I wonder if your daughter is going to be hiking the loop around Mont Blanc. I’ve heard it’s an amazing 5 day loop.

      • Reply sarsm March 17, 2017 at 3:58 am

        I don’t think she’s going to Mont Blanc. But I just looked it up, and you’re right, that looks amazing!

  • Reply Andrea Stephenson March 17, 2017 at 1:37 pm

    Great fun to read Gabe, Miss Janet sounds like a hiking angel 🙂

    • Reply Gabriel March 17, 2017 at 9:37 pm

      Glad you enjoyed Andrea. It was a lot of fun to write too. Isn’t it easy to write about amazing people and their impact on those around them?

  • Reply inesephoto March 17, 2017 at 6:45 pm

    Bless her heart, what a great woman.

  • Reply Dina March 18, 2017 at 2:49 pm

    Haha, great read, Gabriel!! ?

    • Reply Gabriel March 19, 2017 at 4:24 am

      Cheers Dina!

  • Reply philosophermouseofthehedge March 23, 2017 at 1:35 pm

    Best hike lesson list ever. (I’m convince that everyone – and the world – would hit the trails once in a while. Great read.

    • Reply Gabriel March 25, 2017 at 10:13 am

      hehehe glad you enjoyed Karen

    Now it's your turn to play!

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