Driving through Tennessee to begin a mid-West book tour, with my husband and baby in the car. I thought about the commitments on the horizon and the responsibilities in the rear view mirror. I started to feel the excitement of butterflies in my stomach combine with a nervousness that was nauseating. This was the exact  same feeling that I had before my first long distance trail, before starting Blue Ridge Hiking Company, before getting married, and before setting the A.T. Record. But, at least now, I know exactly what that feeling means. I am at the start of another adventure.


Life is short. And when self-doubt enters my mind, I tell myself that life is too short to NOT follow my dreams. And really, what is the risk?! At the end of this year, spent traveling and promoting, Called Again, we could have a New York Times Bestseller - or we could have less money and a bunch of AMAZING memories.

I stop worrying and staring out the window, and instead pull out my computer to get some work done. As I stare at the long list e-mails, RE: speaking engagements and guided trips, I remind myself that I do know a thing or two about being an entrepreneur. No, I don't have a business degree. BUT, I have hiked over 12,000 miles. And here is are a few lessons the trail has taught me about being in business and on book tour.


1. Be Adaptable, but Stubborn - I started hiking as a total newbie, and I never would have made it to Katahdin if I wasn't willing to learn and change - a lot - along the way. That said, the one thing that should not change is your resolve. The trail taught me to live in the present, but always be committed to the ultimate goal. In order for a small business to be successful, you can't give up. Some of the best advice I received was from guidebook writer, Johnny Molloy. He said,  "Most businesses fail because people give up within the first three years. You gotta be willing to stick it out!"


2. Be a Team Player - The trail allowed me to form quality relationships with friends who were very, VERY, different from me. I realized that everyone who I met on the trail and in life could do something that I couldn't do, and knew something that I didn't know. Investing in people who were different from me, made my hike more interesting and made me a better person and business owner. I love sending people out with my guides, because I know all of them bring something different to the table. For example, for the past two years Lori Wilkins has guided for Blue Ridge Hiking Company and she has also studied herbalism. She can identify - and eat or compound - countless plants. I am totally jealous of her naturalist skills and extremely grateful that she is on my team.

Guiding in Asheville

3. Communication is Key - This is something that I learned once I started hiking with Brew. Before that, I spent most of my time on the trail alone. But once I started hiking with Brew by my side or as my support, I learned that honesty and clear communication can mean the difference between a good day and a bad day or a trail record and a record attempt. I love that my publisher, Beaufort Books, is located in NYC. Businesses - and people - in NYC are really good at reducing verbal fluff and getting to the point. For better or worse, I always know where I stand with my publisher. And I am thankful for that.

4. Worthwhile Risks - Hiking long-distance trails has also taught me that it is okay to take a risk. A lot of people think that doing a traditional thru-hike is a risk, both personally and professionally. But my first thru-hike on the Appalachian Trail changed my life for the better and helped me land the first job that I applied for off-trail. A few years later I started Blue Ridge Hiking Company, this time I was worried about the financial and emotional risk. But I love the trail, and I am committed to getting other people outside. If I can encourage others - especially women - to get out and experience the trail, then it makes the risk worthwhile.


This year our goal is to give book talks - and hike - in all fifty states. Along the way, I am sure that we will need to be adaptable and persistent. There is no doubt that, as a team, we will work on communication among ourselves and others. And when it is all said and done, I will spend a year of my life doing what I love, with the man that I love by my side, and seeing this amazingly beautiful and trail-ridden country en route. So, here's to adventure, entrepreneurship, and the path ahead...