I Hike Because…

The trail is my home

The AT will always be my OG Trail, but any trail that takes me into the wilderness is home to me. It’s where I feel like I can truly just be me. It’s where petty things don’t matter. It makes you realise what you need to survive, to be content, and full of positivity.

I’m comfortable with who I am

No one likes being at a strange party – out of their element – until they find the resident pet. Then once you find that cute puppy and hide in the corner cuddling it, you feel more comfortable in an awkward situation. That’s kind of how the trail is for me. Philly? The city? Suburban life? Yeah, that’s the awkward party I attend every day until I find that puppy and get comfortable.

Out on the trail, I am fully comfortable with who I am, how I act, what I wear, what I do, etc. No shame, no excuses, no nothing. You don’t have to put on airs for people on Trail; no one cares about that stuff. Being outdoors hiking, kayaking, rock climbing, etc… I’m sooooo in my element.

I’m striving to be a better person

With that said (above), there’s always still room for improvement! Out here I’m working on my social anxiety – which is nothing compared to back home. I’m working on making sure I practice Leave No Trace, I educate people on the environment around us and why it’s important to not kill snakes or spiders – for example – as they help keep the tick population down by eating the animals that ticks tend to start at. Same with possums! I’m a scientific naturalist at a museum in Philly, so I’m always doing some Steve Irwin stuff on the trail!

I want to meet fellow adventurers with similar interests, ideas, views, and goals

Back in Philly, it’s like pulling teeth to find anyone mildly interested in the things I do. Dating is even worse! I don’t plan to stay in Philly for my life, but while I’m here, it’s hard to find anyone to do adventures with. Out on the AT, I get to meet so many amazing folks from all different backgrounds and locations on earth.

We all are spontaneous explorers looking to see how we can enjoy our time on earth and bring crazy stories back to our families. Not only that, but it’s not frequent that I can geek out about Airstreams, Tiny Houses, and Adventuremobiles to people back home. The hiker community is exactly what I’ve been searching for.

It helps keep the demons at bay

Hiking and outdoor sports are a major help at keeping things like depression and anxiety away. I still take my daily medicine, but being in nature will always be the first step.

It’s not easy though, because even on the AT I’ve gone from extreme highs to horrible lows within a matter of hours. It’s manageable now – unlike 5 years ago – so at least I am out here focusing on improving those issues.

I don’t feel “at home” in my hometown

Like I stated above, Philly isn’t truly “Home” for me. Yeah, I was born here and lived here most of my life, but it’s never a place I’ve wanted to stay. I’ve been to too many countries and parts of the US to think Philly is #1.

Places like New Zealand, Colorado, Australia, Switzerland, Washington, Nova Scotia, Iceland, and a variety of other locations are calling my name. The best part of Philly to me is my museum.

Thank goodness I’ll be living in a adventuremobile!

I’m pushing the boundaries of my artistic creativity

My DSLR and lenses sit packed away due to the fact they’re much too heavy for a thruhike. So instead, I’ve been pushing myself to work only with my iPhone while on this trip, and to break out of my comfort zone and experiment with new styles, compositions, and themes.

This is one of the best ways to spend your life

Is there anymore I need to say? Personally, I cannot fathom a life without the outdoors, but I know everyone is different.

I want to a work on my life goals

Here’s my ideal setup:

• Living in a mobile unit (Airstream, converted bus/van, ex-military vehicle, tiny house, etc)

• Working from said mobile unit as an adventure photographer with various outdoor brands, organisations, and environmental nonprofits to promote the outdoors as well as protecting our environment.

• Travel to various locations in partnership with affiliated companies/organisations to test gear, photograph other professional athletes, as well as the surrounding ecosystem.

• Continue my field work in palaeontology and science with my museum in Philly, digging dinosaurs out west and prepping for research.

Study and promote the environment

The environment is my biggest passion in life. It started when I was just a toddler, always being outside and exposed to new things. I love the world around me, and that’s why my life and career is devoted to protecting and educating others just like I learned from Naturalists when I was a kid.

I already have one of my dream jobs; working in a natural history museum as a Fossil Preparator, Educator, Naturalist, Tour Guide, and Camp Leader. My job is surrounded by fossils and specimens, where I get to teach the public about why our environment matters, why we must study our climate, how we need to lessen our carbon footprint, why extinct animals are important to learn from the Earth’s past, etc.

I could go on and on about why I love my job at the museum! I want to take it on the road, broaden what I teach to a whole world of people – like the internet – where others can learn the amazing things I’ve learned over the years. Bringing this knowledge to others is what I’m very passionate about, and being on the Appalachian Trail gives me the confidence and excitement to continue pursuing this goal!

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Comments 10

  • James : Jul 2nd

    Hi Amber,

    Really enjoyed reading this and can relate in so many ways. I also have Social Anxiety and do what I can each day to keep it at bay. I also find being outdoors is the best remedy.

    This past week, do to unforeseen circumstances, I was able to spend a week in the mountains of northwest NJ. In fact, I’m writing this now from the same location. I was able to work remotely while here and I must say it was so relaxing. I’ll be here for another week and so looking forward to it.

    Reply
    • Amber Redfield : Jul 6th

      Hi James!

      Thanks so much 😀 It really is a great help. I sometimes get very nervous and distant when I’m at shelters because I’m nervous to strike up conversation, but over the past months it’s gotten a lot better! Still always a work in progress. I’m glad the outdoors also helps keep yours at bay too.

      That’s awesome! Enjoy your time there. I’ll be hiking into NJ within the next two weeks, I think. It’s such a pretty part of the trail that many don’t realise is right in their backyard. I love off roading in NJ with my Jeep!

      Reply
  • Mary lou ross : Jul 2nd

    You sound just like me! Happy hiking.

    Reply
    • Amber Redfield : Jul 6th

      Aw yay, I love meeting more people like myself! Thanks, same to you!

      Reply
  • anne : Jul 2nd

    i can so relate to this 🙂

    Reply
    • Amber Redfield : Jul 6th

      Awesome, I’m glad so many like yourself can. It gives me comfort in knowing I’m not alone, too 😀

      Reply
  • Tim Huber : Jul 2nd

    Enjoyed your post. Up in Denali this summer bushwhacking. We are finding awesome dinosaur fossils up here. So when you get a break come up here and be amazed.

    Cast Iron

    Reply
    • Amber Redfield : Jul 6th

      Thanks, Cast Iron! No way, really?! Oh, I am SO jealous haha! Enjoy finding those fossils. Probably some marine specimens up there? I know my team has found some plesiosaurs up there in the past. One of my goals is to get to Denali within the next few years, so I’ll be hiking around there soon enough!

      Reply
  • Pat Pileski : Jul 6th

    I could have totally written this myself! I am 67 and have found my home volunteering with the Konnarock Trail Crew out of Sugar Grove, Va.

    Reply
  • Pat Pileski : Jul 6th

    I could have totally written this myself! I have found my home volunteering with the Konnarock Trail Crew out of Sugar Grove, VA. I am comfortable with ME there.

    Reply

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