biking, stand up paddleboaring, paddlesurfing, skiing, snowboarding
california, miami, connecticut, costa rica, colorado
my merrell hiking shoes and my camel bak.
merrell’s are the way to go for hiking 100%. i’ve done a few trips without my camel bak, just using regular Nalgene bottles and it is definitely not the same.
allison grew up in connecticut, investing time early on in life into getting outdoors and taking advantage of her easy access to the outdoors and mountains. because of this, she discovered not only her love, but her need for hiking. for tuna, it was natural to be outdoors as a kid. moving into adulthood, she’s felt a responsibility to not only keep up with it for herself, but also to make sure the people she impacts have as much of a respect for nature as she does.
playing a little Q + A with tuna, we were left with inspiration to emerge into nature, shut our mouths and hear what nature had show us with us.
when we asked allison what inspires her to keep hiking, she challenged us with the response:
“becoming an adult makes you realize all the ugly in the world, and that many people do not care about nature the way i do. a lot of people i know do, but learning all the bad things currently taking place in the world, makes me want to hold onto what we do have and do whatever we can to keep it around.”
take a few minutes to get to know allison. if you’re like us, you’ll be left inspired to not only explore nature, but explore what taking a hike could do for you.
what’s your story?
i’ve had plenty of people confused at why i enjoy just walking through the woods or hiking until the point i can’t feel my legs. people think i’m crazy that i put myself at risk of bears, snakes, mountain lions, etc.
to me, the woods has always felt like home.
in costa rica my teacher would take us on “silent hikes” we’d walk for hours and not be able to say a word. he explained this is the way to really see and hear what is going on with nature. if you’re talking and making noise, you’ll scare animals. you’ll only distract yourself and you won’t truly be in touch with nature.
at one point i moved from miami to san diego for a year. that year was tough, something never felt right for me, so i hiked almost every day. i did almost every trail in san diego. once i moved back to miami i promised myself i would have to go visit yosemite, so i did. i also visited guatemala, colombia and costa rica again, all just to be with nature.
luckily miami has one of the most diverse eco systems in america, so i am still lucky to be able to explore different state parks, paddleboard, and just engulf myself in the ocean. at the end of the day we are nothing with out nature. people need to realize this. mother nature always wins. we need to respect her.
what sparked your interest to get into hiking?
growing up in connecticut spending time outdoors was something that just came natural to me. as a kid i was always exploring the woods by my house, going on random hikes, bike riding, and just spending as much time outdoors as possible. as i got older i still had a great appreciation for the outdoors but hiking became big in my life.
i started making day trips to new hampshire and vermont and exploring different trails. throughout high school, i would go to colorado multiple times a year to hike or snowboard. when i moved down to miami at 19, i began paddleboarding to keep up with outdoorsy activities. unfortunately, with how flat all of florida is, hiking wasn’t really an option, but i still continued to explore different national parks and trails.
considering hiking wasn’t big in florida, i began to take trips to costa rica, guatemala, colombia and back to connecticut and california to experience hiking and more nature.
“hiking levels me out and quiets my brain. even if my head is going crazy and i am thinking a million thoughts at once, hiking lets those thoughts come through rationally. i become who i am deep down to my core. it’s easy to get caught up in all the chaos of life, but once i step out into nature, everything goes quiet and it’s just me.”
was there a time that, in the moment, you were really unsure of what the outcome would be? tell us about a time that you consider a breaking point and looking back you know that you’ve overcome something great.
I would say my breaking point thus far though was when me and some friends went up the wrong side of lembert dome in yosemite.
we couldn’t find the trail head so we asked some rock climbers which way we should go. they pointed us up the back side and confidently told us we’d be fine as it was only a level 3. i looked at these guys and could tell i was not up to par with their level 3 so this scared me a little but they insisted the only issue would be that we’d be down on hands and knees at some points.
little did we know there was no trail at all. we were literally crack climbing up points of this rock face. we were going up the side most climbers repel down. considering really none of us had any skills rock climbing we were definitely struggling.
there were points we thought we were going to have to call to be rescued. i can remember looking back down behind me and getting serious vertigo, but also thinking it was one of the most beautiful images i had ever seen.
one of my friends had all his heavy camera gear on his back and vans on. this one of the scariest things for me, imagining him rolling backwards and taking us both out. the endurance it took probably killed me the most, the rock face was smooth and i had moments of having to just use all my momentum to sprint up as fast as possible to prevent from falling backwards. also coming from miami, yosemite valley was already at a high enough altitude for my lungs to handle, let alone another 9,000ft in elevation on top of this dome.
this is where my merrell’s and camelbak really saved my life. when i got to the top, i literally saw my life flash before my eyes. i was shocked i could accomplish something like that, mainly because of my pure ignorance and being ill-prepared in this situation. it all seemed ironic as it also took place on my 25th birthday. at that moment, i felt more in touch with nature than I ever have.
when you’re not hiking, what else are you getting into?
i’ve been practicing ashtanga yoga for the past 6 years. this past year i’ve slowed down on yoga a little due to being more concerned with traveling and outdoor activities. i used yoga as one way to ease my anxiety and keep me calm, lately i’ve realized it’s been happening naturally with out the daily practice of ashtanga.
i do big brothers/big sisters and have had a little sister through the program for the last 2 years named jenai. she loves going outdoors with me and i am teaching her to skateboard and how important it is to appreciate nature. we go farmers markets, the beach, botanical gardens, etc. i think it’s important to get kids involved at a young age so they can appreciate nature and make a difference. kids growing up in a place like miami don’t have it come as naturally as i did growing up in connecticut surrounded by the woods, they need that little extra push.
i also enjoy socializing with friends, going to the movies, out to dinner, or to the beach. even if I’m not hiking, i try to be outdoors as much as possible, skateboarding, walking, biking, laying in my hammock, reading.
what’s something coming up this year that you’re excited about?
i won a trip to australia for the month of april. chia co. was holding a competition on “how you stay healthy” and at this time i was headed to yosemite and just finished completing my yoga teacher training, so i submitted them pictures from these events. as well as a video of myself paddleboarding though oleta state park in miami. i put music over it and i am pretty sure that’s what took the win.
i will be flying into sydney for a night and then off to the kimberly to visit kununurra where all of the company’s chia seed fields are. i’ll get to explore this, go on tours and take a helicopter ride. after a few nights in kununurra, i’ll fly back to sydney where i’ll be paying for the rest of the trip myself. i plan to rent a jeep and some camping gear and driving and camping along the coast.
what has been one of your toughest moments to date?
one of my toughest moments was mount lafayette in new hampshire. this hike took some serious endurance and i basically did the whole thing in complete silence with my dad. my legs wanted to give out the entire time.
unlike the experience in yosemite, this felt as though it was never ending. the whole hike took about 7 hours. once at the top of the first mountain i realized i still had 3 more mountain tops to peak. it was by far the hardest trail i have experienced yet.
it was covered in rocks and when my legs became weak i kept slipping up, locking my knees and stubbing my toes. little did I know the way down would be even worst. i thought i would be paralyzed by the end!
this was definitely one of my strongest mental tests I’ve had yet. considering how long it was, i had a lot of time to think. it was also at a time I was struggling with some personal issues so my mind was running wild. but this is when everything became clear to me. this is when i realized i belong doing this type of stuff, that i belong outdoors.
Also my breath. Breathing is huge while hiking but also huge in life. breathing helps with fear, anxiety and thinking logically. it helps me get past any tough moment.
no matter how many times i’ve started a hike and wonder “why the hell am i doing this to myself?” i keep doing it. i got past it by positive mental reinforcement. i swear this moment has changed my thinking patterns from here on out. i feel as though i can conquer any stressful moment in my life now.
we’ll see you out on the trailhead soon, tuna. until then…
Stranded on Land