I’m doing this because my rather cool web developer assigned me the job, told me it’s good for SEO and ‘cause I get what that means, here I am.

I figure the best way to start this is the who, what, why, what… or my origin story. That sounds way more superhero, let’s go with Origin Story.

My origin story:

I was born on November 14th in the early morning and immediately put up for adoption. My mom, whom I’ve just met btw, needed to give me up but that’s for another story elsewhere. Suffice it to say, it broke her heart and we parted that day.

Anyway, fast forward a few years, and I’ve grown up in Vermont with a wonderful family, Two brothers, a house on a dirt road, loads of access to the woods and nature, and I loved it. I didn’t like school much and that’s also for another story elsewhere.

In the summers, I would get sent to a summer camp where I’d immerse myself in swimming and canoeing and roughing it in the Canadian wilderness. I learned loads of outdoorsy things, fun things, and when I aged out of being a camper, I returned as a Counselor In Training. I was totally in my element when I was out there on the lakes and in the woods. But that was summer time, and life wasn’t summer vacation.

So, remember I didn’t like school much? Its not so long ago that I mentioned it. I never graduated high school so didn’t go to college. I lived in a cruddy pad in Burlington and had no direction. Instead of frittering away my time on acid and Colt 45, my mother stepped in, like she does, and tough-talked me out of that circumstance. She was smart, still is. And she got me off my ass and into my first job abroad. I didn’t need to clean up, really, I just needed to move away from bad habits. I took a job as a nanny in Italy that I’d found in The Lady Magazine. It’s how you looked for work back then kids. In printed media and by snail mail.

Get this: I had a friend come over and take pictures. We took the film to the local drug store to have them printed. I sent one, with a typed (on a typewriter) resume and a handwritten cover letter off to the family in Italy. It was me and my dog Beau. I told them I could make spaghetti and had experience as a counselor at a summer camp. I got the job.

I may as well fast forward over other stories, they’re not relevant to this except in a timeline sense. Maybe if I bullet point them I can link them better in future… but here we are, ending the “roots” part at about 21 year old, in England, meeting a guy, getting married, having kids.

Other stories I should tell in my Origin Story
Hating School (LDs and bullying)
Deep Thoughts on Education
Life in Italy and meeting Emily
My famalam
Billy and that whole awful ending

I’m 40 now. (In the blog post timeline, I’m 51 as I write, keep up with me) and we decide to move to Vermont. It’s the right thing to do for the family. It hurts to leave all that community behind, but Dad is getting on, and Vermont is calling me. We would drive hundreds of miles to the remote West Highlands to find adventures that made my heart feel at home and get my family into spaces reminiscent of Vermont. So off we go, to Vermont, in this big boxed up chaotic move.

We land in the US and I get work, my husband at the time was trying to start up a massage business. So I continue to get the kind of jobs I can easily get and carry on being happy enough.

Huge life things happen over these next years, we lose Billy (husband and baby daddy) to suicide (see earlier promise) and amongst all that grief and trauma, I start a job in solar. This was good and mentionable because it’s where I need to start slowing down the story again.

These new colleagues are hip and young and I’ve got healing to do from the trauma. The place is progressive and cares about my mental health and my family. I get great healthcare and start to work on some self care for the first time in my life. I hike and run and get much healthier but I’m older, fatter and slower than most and often chose not to do the big things for fear of being the slow person. It sucks to be that person at the back, red faced and ready to puke, trying to look like it’s no problem keeping up. They were often nice, this isn’t about them being insensitive, but if any of you reading this are that slow person, you know it just sucks to have people wait for you, or go slower for you.

We’d hike mountains for the sunrise, we’d hike mountains after work for the beer at the bottom… they would do that sometimes in the morning before work. Not the beer part, the hike up/ski down part. “Come with us, Maggie” They’d say. Hah, barf, no, too much exercise and bed is comfy.

I’m there 5+ years (we’re getting close to now, now). Eventually, my Solar Goddess job (that was my title as an Office Manager) becomes a Marketing job and I’m on the events team putting together fun stuff for crowds of people that breathe when CoVid hits the world. Oddly, the US didn’t stand alone in its immunity and we had a few (for history’s sake, we’re just short of 1million deaths and onto the 4th variant) infections and a lockdown. Our team gets laid off. I get laid off. Me. The fucking Solar fucking Goddess who’d done most of the fucking jobs in that place. Man I was pissed, and sad, and depressed and pissed. I’d been there since Billy died, it was my new life and comfort zone. I’d onboarded nearly every soul that had joined that company after me and knew them all by name. I was hurt. I was being kicked out of my family. Along with 27 others that sad day.

So I sat in my house and smoked pot and drank Gin and Tonics. Too many. I gained weight, I started to lose a grip on my mental and physical health. I’m an extrovert and I need people around me to feel my worth and potential.

Meghan and I commiserated with each other, both heading down the same path, a bit. We challenged each other to start little hikes on Mondays so our week would at least start with something positive. We had always got on superbly and came out of time together as better people. We laugh hard, tease easily, we support and listen to each other. I hope you all have a Meghan in your life.

Meghan and I started hiking. We hiked Philo, an easy little hike with excellent views. We felt pretty damn proud.

We hiked to Taylor Lodge and sat in the shelter for our “summit” snack, feeling very proud of our work and activity. Then “she” walked in. Grubby, with a backpack and a guy a bit behind her. She sat down and started to pull out tortillas and peanut butter and said hi. We kinda stared, said hi, and asked where she’d come from. Massachusetts. She had come from Massachusetts. Hiked. Like 200ish miles. She was a thru-hiker, and it all came back to me. Floods of old desires to hike the Long Trail, desires I’d squished as I aged out of Summer Camp, got older and fatter and matronly. If this chick could do it, I could do it. She was normal… like 35-40 yrs old, chesty, average weight. Not this skinny young thing with a lifetime of alpine ascents. I could be her.

I’ve tried to tell her how pivotal she was, I’m not sure she’ll ever know that meeting her changed my perspective on who was a thru hiker. I was a thru hiker.
So I spent my next few months submerged in web searches and research, joining forums and reading hike itineraries. I put together a little overnight for Meghan and I to try out and we did.

We took the dogs up and over Mount Abraham, and in doing so failed miserably. Like soooo bad. We had to bail. Bail down the ski runs at only a third of our way through the trail because we had judged the terrain and our pace so badly. We also learned very quickly why people need underquilts in hammocks. We learned how heavy it is to pack shoes and a nice big rice dish and how there is no water when you’re at the tippy top. We learned our dogs were older than we had thought, and learned that a rocky scramble is in fact a 3 points of contact thing. We learned tons on that day of failure. So we did it again, the opposite way. And we made it this time… we had trimmed our weight, changed our meals out a bit, slowed down the expectations… and we did it! 2 nights, over the Monroe Skyline, on the right timetable, and at the end, I knew I could do it for another 30 nights.

I spent the next few weeks learning my true pace, practicing my lost fire lighting skills, trying to work out if my head could handle the solitude. I spent hours in the basement at Outdoor Gear Exchange, comparing stoves and filters and poles and pads. And so much more. I confess I’ve discovered a deep level of Gear Head in me. And I love it.

Recall I said I was an event planner? All this learning and research culminated in the biggest most important event of my life. But I was scared and hesitant and fortunately I had a good excuse, my sleeping bag wasn’t rated warm enough and it had gotten very late in the year. I would save this event for next year and hike in the summer. I have to mention my dear boyfriend here, he knows me well. Maybe he wanted me out of the house for a bit, but it doesn’t matter, because he marched me back to OGE, got me a 20degree bag and removed that last excuse.

My start date loomed a week away, my resupply bags were ready and all the road crossings where I would meet friends with food were plotted. Sometimes those friends would stay on the trail, sometimes it was Dave, delivering a box, a hug, and some fresh food.

So, that’s what landed me into this… that steep learning curve of self discovery and the epiphanies the thru hike allowed me to have. One day I’ll write about the thru hike and all I learned in that time. But the takeaway here is that I learned I wanted other women to experience what I had. I wanted them to be able to leap through the barriers I had faced with less conflict and work. I wanted to hold their hand and draw them to the fire, hand them a coffee in the morning as we watch the sunrise and timelapse it. Marvel at our bodies and its ability to take us places we only dreamed of.

Backpacking doesn’t need to be rugged and hard and scary, it can be soft and slow and beautiful, it can allow you to meet yourself in a wondrous way you’ve never seen before. It can allow you to find a deep respect for your reserves, resilience and strength. And the natural world around us, when we are submerged deep in it like this, can heal our bodies and souls faster than any prescription. That’s what I want to share with other women. That’s what I want them to see in themselves.