Often, as hikers, we hit the trails to clear our minds, to connect, or to reflect on our daily lives. We also hike to create stronger bonds and lasting memories with friends, families and pets. Our hiking experiences fall under any of the above categories. Today’s feature is about creating memories with people that matter the most and cherishing the memories of those who are no longer with us. Either way, hiking is about love for the activity itself, for those around us and for ourselves. I’m honored to be touched by Sarah’s hiking life. I hope she touches your life the same way by reading her story.
Feature Outdoor Woman’s Voice
Sarah D. Tiedemann is from Trenton, NJ. Off the trails, she works as a paralegal, writes on the side and enjoys hibernating for the winter. Sarah spends time in North Jersey and Adirondacks for her hiking adventures. In addition to hiking, she enjoys crocheting and crafting. Sarah’s love for hiking started at the age of 17. Let’s hear more from Sarah directly about her hiking life. Enjoy!
Sarah’s discovery of hiking appears to be inspired by the location she was in at the age of 17.
I moved from New Jersey to Hawai’i when I was 17. The beauty of Hawai’i encouraged me to get on my feet. There was so much to see and I wanted to see it all.
What do you like the most about hiking?
The quietness. I’m an over-thinker and being outdoors quiets my nagging, obnoxious inner voice.
Do you enjoy hiking solo or with others more?
Though I can appreciate the merits of hiking solo, I’m in the “strength in numbers” camp. I’m a scaredy cat and it feels safer for me to hike in a group. I typically hike with my husband and we mostly have a “together but separate” experience. At first, we’re abuzz with excitement and conversation, then we slowly quiet down and it becomes a more intrapersonal experience.
What are some lessons you’ve learned from hiking?
The biggest lessons I’ve learned were about myself. I’m much stronger, tenacious, and more capable than I give myself credit for. I’ve learned to appreciate what I can accomplish and to not be so hard on myself.
Sarah shares with us three places that she’s hiked accompanied by photos.
Mt. Marcy, Adirondack Mountains, New York: This was my husband and my first high mileage hike and we were total noobs. It’s pretty funny to go back to the pictures from that day and look at what we were wearing and what “gear” we had. Aside from my bloody blisters that soaked through to the other side of my boots, it was a great trip!
Kalalau Trail, Kauai, Hawai’i: I was totally sure I was 100% prepared for this hike. It often makes lists that detail the world’s “most dangerous hikes”. I didn’t take that lightly- I was prepping physically and mentally for months beforehand. We ended up taking a wrong turn at a trail junction (in retrospect, it was totally obvious) and long story short, we hiked back to the trailhead in the dark, rather than spending 3 nights at a secluded beach.
Sun Fish Pond, Worthington State Forest, New Jersey: My husband’s family has been hiking this trail for decades. It’s their “power spot” and where we spread my father in law’s ashes. It’s the perfect hike for a quick jaunt in the woods.
What advice would you give to women who are new to hiking?
There are certainly things that are different for women when it comes to hiking, but I think a general rule for those who are just starting out would be to plan for the worst and hope for the best. A lot of times, feeling apprehension is a normal reaction to something we’re inexperienced in. The best remedy for that is both physical and mental preparation.
Sarah takes us to her view on hiking as a female and any challenges that it entails. Curiously enough, the challenge doesn’t come from the outside.
Honestly, the biggest challenges I’ve run into have been self imposed and internal. Whether it be a big scramble or a feat of upper body strength- I consistently question my ability as a woman. And, every time I question myself, I pull myself up by the bootstraps and make it happen.
Any gear recommendation?
Smartwool base layers. They are absolutely amazing in any weather. You stay warm, dry, and comfortable.
What treks do you have on your bucket list?
Kalalau Trail 2.0- We’ve got to get back and finish what we started. The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. I had originally gone to school for anthropology before life got in the way, so now it’s just a fun hobby.
For the most memorable hiking experience, here’s one of hers.
Cascade Mountain in the Adirondack Mountains of New York in the winter. I was terrified to hike in the winter- I was imagining all the things that could go wrong, and coupled with the cold, I was sure it would be a disastrous experience. We prepped to the gills and I was pleasantly surprised- that was the best hike I had ever taken. It was a perfect winter’s day- sunny, still, with plenty of snow on the ground. The stillness of the woods was incredible. We’d hiked the same trail in the summer and it wasn’t an easy one. Blanketed in snow, it brought you up the mountain on an easy slope. It was not what I was expecting at all!
Check out below Sarah’s favorite hiking photos. Favorite doesn’t always mean the “best” shots from a photographer’s standpoint. At times, it means the photos that depict the most meaningful memories in our lives. I tend to agree with that as some of the most important photos in my own life remain tuck away for now. Photos exude their own power of allowing us to relive moments, whether it’s a feeling of joy or sadness. Sarah’s candidness in sharing her personal stories behind each photo is certainly appreciated.
This is a candid shot of my husband and I dancing upon our summit of Algonquin Peak in the Adirondack Mountains. It was such an incredible day that I think back on fondly. My sister-in-law was with us on the trip, so she made sure to take some photos of us without us knowing. It was a nice treat to look through them!
This is my father in law on our last hike together to Sun Fish Pond before he passed. He just exudes happiness in this photo. It means a lot to us!
This was from a trip to Yosemite when my husband proposed – that speaks for itself
Sarah graciously shared her toughest hike yet that was closely intertwined with her life off the trails. At times, that happens. Our lives on the trails coincide with some moments in our lives off trails. Usually, nature provides the comfort or extra layer of meaning that we seek.
There were countless hikes wherein I had to push myself both physically and mentally, but the one that stands out the most is the hike we took to spread my father in law’s ashes at Sun Fish Pond. He died as a result of a work accident- he was still young and vibrant. The whole family, ranging in age from 20-70 made the trip up there to say goodbye. Coincidentally, my husband’s uncle had died years before and his father still had his ashes. We spread both of their ashes at the top.
Dad’s death felt final and real that day. It was a surreal experience, but we did it to honor him and his wishes. It was something we had to do and that made it a little easier to handle. We haven’t been able to get back up there since. It’s far too painful- but we hope to be able to make the trek in the future.
To get her through daily challenges or any moments of fear on the trails, Sarah reminds herself of these two quotes, the latter of which re-energizes her spirit:
“Everything is true just as it is. Why dislike it? Why hate it?”
“When plans fail, blaze new trails.”
Sarah’s philosophy has led her to expand on her own creativity. On an outdoor-related project, Sarah recently wrote a book about hiking and the outdoors for those who experience fear and anxiety when adventuring outside. The book is called, Traveling with Baggage: A Guide for the Hesitant Hiker. She notes that the book was written partly based on her experience growing up in the city where opportunities to get outside were scant. It’s also based on Sarah’s experience of venturing out for the first time. Sarah adds the book also has a specific section that addresses how to be prepared mentally and physically as a female hiker. Make sure to check it out on Amazon. You can also follow Sarah via her website: www.sarahdtiedemann.com
Thanks to Sarah for sharing her hiking life and personal journeys. Her feature is a great reminder to never take anything for granted, be it on or off the trails. Hiking is one of the most effective ways to create and maintain bonds with people, however short lived any hiking moment may be.