If you've hiked with Blue Ridge Hiking Company in the last few years, chances are you've interacted with Lindsey. She joined our team as Manager for the 2019 season, and helped to open the shop in downtown Asheville and the Appalachian Trail-er bunkhouse in Hot Springs. Last month, she stepped into a new role as Owner! We sat down with her recently for a conversation so you can get to know her a little bit better.

How did you first become interested in the outdoors?
I was in Girl Scouts most of my childhood, eventually earning my Gold Award* in high school. My Girl Scout leaders growing up thought it was important that we tried a little bit of everything - science, math, cooking, art, service projects, outdoor activities, etc. We did annual campouts where we tried everything from hiking and camping to mountain biking and canoeing. I even went spelunking one summer! After I earned my Gold Award in High School, I joined a local Venture Crew to try more high adventure activities, like backpacking and canoe camping.
* The Girl Scout Gold Award is the highest award in Girl Scouts, roughly equivalent to a Boy Scout achieving the rank of Eagle Scout.

Tell us about your first backpacking trip.
I first tried backpacking when I was 16 with my Venture Crew. I used borrowed gear, which was mostly ill-fitting and quite heavy; my pack weighed around 45lbs with food and water. At least I knew enough to break in my hiking boots ahead of time! The trip was 3 days in May in Grayson Highlands, and the weather turned out to be less than ideal - in the 30s overnight and 40s to 50s during the day. Rain moved in late the second day, which turned to snow as we hiked out the last day. I'd made the decision to wear my glasses so I didn't have to deal with contacts, so I was looking through wet glasses much of the trip. Needless to say I was miserable when we got off trail. But I got home and realized that despite the challenges, I'd done it! It was an incredibly empowering moment and I was instantly hooked.

What is your favorite thing about hiking?
I love taking a moment to be with nature. No matter what's going on in my life, I can step onto the trail and feel my stress wash away. I love finding and learning to identify wildflowers, ferns, trees, mushrooms, birds. And as someone who's struggled with my body image in the past (and sometimes still does), I love that I get to connect with my body and appreciate everything it is capable of.

What is your least favorite thing about hiking?
I really hate cold rain, hah! I'm normally an all weather hiker, but there's something especially miserable about 40 degree rain.

What are some of your favorite local trails?
I really enjoy the challenge of the exposed high elevation trails like the Art Loeb, Black Mountain Crest Trail, and Grandfather Mountain. I also really like hiking in Wilderness Areas where I'm less likely to run into other people. And if I'm looking for a hike close to town, it's hard to beat the Mountains to Sea Trail (MST) between the Folk Art Center and Rattlesnake Lodge! There are a ton of wildflowers in that area throughout the season, and I can sneak in a quick hike before or after work.

What other outdoor sports do you enjoy? Do you have any other hobbies?
I enjoy almost anything human powered! I canoe as much as I can - whether it's whitewater, flatwater, or canoe camping. I also enjoy gravel biking, fly fishing, rock climbing, and paddle boarding. In the winter, I cross country ski and snowshoe. When I hiked the MST last year, my partner and I opted to take a multi-sport approach - hiking the trails, cycling the roads, and paddling the river section. In addition to outdoor recreation, I enjoy knitting, sewing, and stained glass (you can see more of my artwork on my stained glass website, Mountain Magic Glass). I also LOVE live music, and go see it as often as I can - especially at small, local venues.

You consider yourself a multi-sport athlete. Why is this important to you?
I've always enjoyed a variety of outdoor sports. I have bad knees because of an anatomical misalignment, so changing things up keeps my knees healthier. When they start to get sore from hiking or trail running, I can switch up my activities and still stay active while taking care of my body. This way, I can make sure I'm able to stay active as I get older, too! I also really enjoy seeing the landscape in a variety of ways. I can hike and bike the same trail and notice different things from the different vantage points. When I hike, I like to look at where the creeks and streams are flowing into the rivers I paddle; similarly looking at the mountains and mountain ranges from the river when I paddle. It gives me a really deep appreciation for the natural world surrounding me.

What is your vision for Blue Ridge Hiking Company for the next year?
This is pretty straightforward, actually. I joined Blue Ridge Hiking Company because I believed deeply in its vision that the trail is there for everyone at every phase of life. At the time, my partner and I were looking to return to Asheville, and I was hoping to find a job with a company whose values aligned with mine. I found that here! Moving forward, I'd like to see Blue Ridge Hiking Company continue to do what we do well, and to continue to grow locally so we can help even more people get outside.