Meet the Family

Who are We?

Hello! I’m Cieria (pronounced Sierra) and I’m thru hiking the Appalachian Trail with my fiance, Michael, and our two pups, Zara, the Siberian Husky, and Leo, the terrier mix, starting in March 2018. I’m a 22 year old, who just graduated with my Bachelor’s degree in Spanish, but I’m going back to finish out my Criminal Justice degree too. I’m a 911 dispatcher and a server who loves to hike and be outside with my pups.

To start with, I’ll give you a little back story about how our little rag-tag group came to be and why we decided to up and leave our normal, boring lives with adult responsibilities and hike for six months. To be fair, we’re taking our two biggest and furriest responsibilities with us. We couldn’t stand to leave them for that long and most people won’t want to take care of two bratheads for months at a time.

Leo “Buddy” Bassett

Leo was the first addition to the family unit. I was in my second year of college and I had just moved into an apartment by myself. I was living alone and decided  that I needed a puppy. My parents had also just moved into a new house. At their new house, a little white and tan mutt wouldn’t leave their yard. The neighbors said that the last residents of the house left him behind when they moved. My parents couldn’t keep him with their other dog and a new baby, so they were going to take him to the shelter. I immediately decided that it was fate and I took him in. Leo and I were attached at the hip (If you’ve seen The Secret Life of Pets, that movie was definitely based on me and Leo). We did everything together. We went on walks around campus, played at the dog park, and went on play dates with my friends and their dogs. We even survived getting him fixed and discovered all of his allergies (beef, chicken, and gluten). Six months later, we moved in with my best friend, Anna, and six months after that (two days after the hell of finals week), we became proud parents to Zara.


Zara “Pretty Girl” Bassett-Limoges

Zara was being re-homed by a friend of Anna’s sister-in-law. They couldn’t keep her because she was too high maintenance and required more upkeep than they were prepared for (Running at the park everyday and lots of brushing cured that). Zara (or Maya, has she was originally called) was a year old when Anna and I became co-parents to her. She had only ever lived outside, was toy and dog aggressive, and not really house trained, but extremely smart and high energy. Apartment living was a big adjustment for her, but after a few successful escape attempts (and running about 40 miles total on my part to catch her), she learned to like apartment living and the excessive amount of attention and snacks that she was getting. We’ve now fixed her aggressiveness toward dogs and cats (partially because Anna adopted Suki, the cat demon from hell), figured out that she doesn’t even like to play with toys, and she’s a pretty good leash walker. Zara is now a well-adjusted brathead like Leo (She’s laying in front of her own personal mini fan as we speak).

Adding Michael to the Mix

Michael came into the picture almost a year after we adopted Zara. We started dating and he fell in love with the pups (and me, of course). We got engaged 7 months later and now we (Michael, Leo, Zara, and I) live under the same roof in our own little (rental) house. Michael is a 23 year old Criminal Justice major, who is graduating in December with his Associate’s degree. We’re hiking before he goes back to finish his Bachelor’s. He works at a bookstore and is an amazing uncle to his two nephews and a great (almost) brother-in-law to my two little sisters. He happily helps with all the work that goes into spoiling two pups and rolls with all the drama and excitement that usually surrounds my extremely large family. He’s the logic and calmness to all my craziness and spontaneous plans.

 Why We Hike

My love of the outdoors is very recent. I used to hate being outside and away from my books when I was younger, but being outside all the time with my dogs and figuring out how much I love hiking changed that. Michael is an Eagle Scout who has always liked being outside. He hiked the Grand Canyon and numerous trails in Georgia with his troop. We decided to thru hike as sort of an extreme change from college and before we invest time into our careers. We want to travel more and see everything that we can. Thru hiking is a way to combine being outside, traveling, and spending time with the pups. It’s a win-win situation for everyone. Our eventual goal is to be successful Triple Crown Hikers, but we’re starting out slow and taking it one day at the time, starting with preparing for the Appalachian Trail.

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Comments 7

  • TicTac : Aug 15th

    Have you really thought about the changes that – initially – completing a thru-hike of the AT will make in you? Compound those changes with the completion of your eventual goal of completing the Triple Crown? The inescapable life and personality changes that accrue from those completions will inevitably be a radical metamorphosis in your personality and in your life goals; becoming more able to accept dramatically different lifestyles and personality quirks in all of the people you meet, accepting what life puts in front of you regardless of how it challenges you, and becoming more peaceful and tolerant than you ever thought might be possible.

    The only reason I say this though, is based on your stated goal of receiving a Criminal Justice degree. Almost everyone who seeks a degree in Criminal Justice also aspires to be a police officer rather than to pursue a career in Jurisprudence. I don’t’ know if in fact you do long to be a police officer, but how in the name of all that is good, do expect you will be able to be able to inflict yourself on innocent citizens, act almost solely as a revenue generator for the government which you represent, use excess physical and even deadly force against citizens who do not deserve such punishment, and live with the reality that even if your morals are upright and ethical you cannot speak out against coworkers whose morals are bankrupt for fear of losing your job???

    My belief is that if in fact you do complete the Triple Crown, the last thing on your mind is going to be to have a job in which every person you meet hates, mistrusts and fears you, simply because of the uniform you wear. Think about it…?

    • Sandra : Aug 16th


      Bummer. Sad for you that you are so negative. IF you are to ever need help, I’m certain that the Police would be there to help you out of your bad situation. Most humans do not equate a uniform of a PO with HATE.

      BTW, attaining a dream…a CJ degree in this case, is that persons dream…not yours or mine or anyone else’s. Getting a degree in CJ does not mean that someone wants to be a PO. Do you even know the possibilities that having a CJ degree opens up for all people?
      Are you really this ignorant, hate-filled person? Tragic. Who would enjoy being around a hater…Oh yes, another hater!

      And, NO, I’m definitely not a Police Officer or a CJ Major, but 30 years ago, I needed desperately to be helped by any PO, when I was kidnapped by a lunatic and If not for Law Enforcement, I would have realistically died. My injuries will remain until the day I die. The lingering psychological and emotional damage is somedays too hard to bear. Lots of Psychotherapy, something you may consider for yourself.

      Law Enforcement came through for me…100%!

      I, only in passing, knew of a Captain on the local PD and he just happened to check on me & my daughter every day in our apartment complex. He’d drive by on his rounds. He noticed no car for 2 days, checked with the owner & my workplace and found out that I was nowhere around. Even you can imagine the rest of the story..BLAH, BLAH, BLAH.

      **Please note here that my daughter was safe. She was with her Dad that weekend**

      Long story short…He, a stranger that I served coffee to at the local Denny’s, a Police Officer, initiated a search. 30 years later, I cringe when I hear anti-Police rhetoric. There are great people working hard & Yes, there are bad people too in all fields.
      They are all around us.

      So, I hope that if you are ever the parent of a 30 something daughter and this happens to her, that you have enough sense to Call the Police for HELP.
      Wishing you well & hoping that you have the dreams of Sierra one day.

    • Cieria : Aug 17th

      I do believe that the thru hikes will change me, but for the better. I’ll have a better understanding of a more diverse group of people, which would help me be more understanding and sympathetic toward everyone. I do want to be a police officer as a start for my career, but have further goals than that. Most police officers do so much good for communities and people. Yes, there are a few bad apples, but that doesn’t stop police officers from helping and serving. They do the most they can do to help everyone, no matter what, which is what they should be doing.

  • Clydette N Broyles : Aug 15th

    Good luck to you all .But you will have to figure outsomething for the dogs feet thru all the rocks .It could really tear up their feet .So really work on this as I know you dont want to hurt them .In one book I read about the trail a hiker followed a blood trail for miles from a day hikers dog .He was too big for her to carry so the poor dog had to suffer.

    • Cieria : Aug 17th

      We’ve put a lot of thought into keeping the dogs heathly and safe. We’re planning on using Musher’s Wax everyday for their feet and having them wear booties on the parts that will be tough on their feet. And we will obviously hike their hike and carry them out, if need be. My fiancé has already said he would leave his pack and carry the husky, if he has too. The terrier rides in my pack when he gets tired, so he’ll be fine. Thank you for your concern. I appreciate people caring enough to share concerns about my pups.

  • Anna : Aug 17th

    Great first post, Rera! ????

  • Bryan : Aug 17th

    Good luck on your adventure. I’ve read of other people hiking the AT with dogs and they mentioned that certain parts of the trail pass through parks that prohibit dogs (e.g., Smoky Mountain NP). You should check into that.


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