Q&A with Sheri
What is your favorite outdoor activity?
I love to hit the trail whether it’s for an afternoon day hike or trail run or a 253 day continuous walk across America. When I’m not on trail you may find me on the water wakeboarding or waterskiing and when the snow hits the mountains you will definitely find me with a snowboard attached to my feet. I love to kayak, windsurf, bike, skateboard, rollerblade…The obvious and simple answer here is, I enjoy spending all of my free time living an active lifestyle in the outdoors.
Name your top 3 hiking destinations.
My all time favorite hike starts at Katahdin Stream Campground in Maine’s Baxter State Park and follows the Appalachian Trail for 5.2 miles to the top of Maine’s highest mountain and northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail, Mt. Katahdin.
One of my favorite hiking destinations is through New Hampshire’s beautiful and rugged White Mountains. The scenery is dramatic, the terrain is invigorating and the fall foliage will take your breath away!
I will never forget my first steps along California’s coastal Pt. Reyes National Seashore. Pt. Reyes National Seashore was established to protect and preserve wilderness and natural ecosystems along the undeveloped coastline of the Western United States. You may even be one of the lucky few to get a peek at an albino deer and a Californian gray whale all in the same afternoon!
What is your signature camping recipe?
I must start by saying that I by no means would ever consider myself a good backcountry chef, in fact, I usually stick with meals that only require the small feat of boiling a pot of water! With that said, I will share my favorite trail meal, delicious veggie wraps, but you’ve been warned, nothing fancy here! I start by cooking up a packet of Lipton Cajun Red Beans and Rice. I add a little hot sauce to the mix while lining a couple of whole wheat tortillas with strips of pepper jack cheese. When the beans and rice are finished cooking I add the mix to my tortillas and voila – a delicious, spicy, super-easy, satisfying backcountry meal!
Tell us what your perfect day entails.
My perfect day would start by watching the sun rise over the horizon from the comfort of my sleeping bag while I sip on a hot, delicious cup of coffee! While watching the sunrise, Randy and I would discuss where our feet will take us throughout the day, slowly breaking down camp and packing our packs for another adventurous day on trail. As we walk we would talk about life and how lucky we are to have each other to spend our time and passions with and discuss the beautiful landscape that we are so fortunate to enjoy. An afternoon siesta would take place on a beautiful mountain top or near a flowing stream while soaking in the warm rays of the sun. The afternoon would be filled with wildlife sightings, fields of wildflowers and nothing but the sounds of the nature. With plenty of light left in the day we would make camp again and prepare for another glorious night under the stars. With our shoes kicked off and feet in the air, we would talk about how great our day was and promise each other to make every moment we spend together “the perfect day”!
What indulgent item can you not live without on the trail?
Although I try to carry a system of gear that allows me to travel pretty light, there are definitely a few items I won’t go without on trail! In no particular order, Q-tips, Hershey Take 5 Bars and of course, Randy! So I have no problem spending months on trail and not showering for weeks at a time, but I have to have Q-tips because I can’t stand dirty ears!!! On our hike across America Randy’s sister, Renee, discovered Take 5 chocolate bars and mailed us a supply. That’s all she wrote, I must have a supply of these delicious bars with me at all times. Considering that almost every trail mile I have under my feet, well over 10,000 miles, have been accompanied by Randy, I can’t imagine life on the trail without him!!
What are your “trail names” and how did you earn these monikers?
We have had the pleasure of having a few trail names, independently we have been known as “Waterfall” and “Tagalong”, and together we have been known as “The Tag Team” and “The Honeymooners”.
I learned my moniker on the first day of our Appalachian Trail thru-hike in 1999 when I leaned over to touch the water at the base of Long Creek Falls in Georgia, slipped and fell into the cold, cold water, from that point on being known to the other A.T. hikers as “Waterfall”.
Randy didn’t get a trail name nearly as quickly. It wasn’t until almost three weeks into the thru-hike that other A.T. hikers took notice to the fact that every time they would see “Waterfall” coming up the trail or into a shelter area she was always followed behind by Randy, only a few steps behind. Eventually someone commented on our hiking style and pointed out that “Waterfall” always has a “tagalong”. The moniker slowly picked up momentum and every time we would enter a Shelter area fellow Hikers would declare our arrival with an energetic, “Waterfall” followed moments later by a giggling, “and her Tagalong”. After a while “Tagalong” just fit.
Because we were never seen without the other, not once over the 222 days we spent on the Appalachian Trail, as we made our way North we also became known to some as the “Tag Team”. As for “The Honeymooners”, that moniker was associated with our 253 day thru-hike of the American Discovery Trail in 2006, which we hiked as our honeymoon of course!
Relay a time when your outdoor skills and expertise saved you from an otherwise frightening experience.
During our 2006 American Discovery Trail hike across America, we spent most of the month of August walking across Kansas, where most days, afternoon temperatures would quickly exceed 100 degrees, with little shade in sight. On this one particular day, we knew we had close to a twenty mile stretch with no chance to resupply our water, so we started the day with as much water as we could carry in our packs. Unfortunately, it was so hot, somewhere around 114 degrees, we decided we would be better off consuming our water than carrying it on our backs. With about two miles to go until our next water source, Randy’s body decided that it had had enough. His shirt was soaked in salt, his skin pale and clammy, he needed water and he needed to get out of the harsh rays of the sun. Together we decided that Randy would stop hiking and I would continue on to retrieve water for both of us. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke should not be taken lightly, and as soon you recognize the symptoms, it’s critical that you react. Fortunately we were able to resupply our water and after a couple hours of rest in the shade and rehydrating the sweat that was lost, we were able to continue hiking. Having learned from that experience we encourage people to always have a supply of water and pay close attention to their bodies when exposed to extreme conditions.
What is your favorite part of teaching others outdoor skills?
Backpacking has become a way of life for Randy and I, that has offered us so many rewarding experiences. It is truly a dream come true to travel the country sharing our passion with others. Our biggest hope is that our passion is contagious and we inspire people to put on a pack, hit the trail and experience the incredible benefits and life changing events that can happen by turning off the television, leaving the cell phone at home and putting one foot in front of the other while soaking in all of the sights and sounds that mother nature has to offer.
Relay the most rewarding experience you’ve had while on the trail.
It all started on our Appalachian Trail thru-hike in 1999 when Randy and I came to an old forest service road crossing and were handed a bag filled with painted Easter eggs and an assortment of chewy candies and chocolate. A man and his very friendly chocolate lab decided to spend their Easter morning performing what is known in the Trail Community as “Trail Magic”. This very kind stranger had his grandchildren die Easter Eggs so he could hand them to hikers as they passed by his truck on this particular morning. This act of kindness by complete strangers followed us throughout our Appalachian Trail Hike and overwhelmed us on our hike across America. We refer to these kind strangers as “Trail Angels” and it those countless experiences that are the most rewarding. This country is filled with kind souls and we have had the extreme pleasure of meeting so many of them!!
Any tips or tricks of the trade you’d like to share?
Pursue you passion, good things will follow!!!