Happy Hiking: an Interview with Vickie Walsh - theHumm February 2021
Happy Hiking: an Interview with Vickie Walsh - theHumm February 2021
By Kris Riendeau
Just before Christmas, I picked up a copy of Vickie Walsh’s Guide to Hiking Trails in Ottawa and Region. As I perused the pages and learned about many trails with which I had not yet become acquainted, it occurred to me that Vickie’s insights would be a wonderful addition to theHumm. Imagine my delight when she responded to my enquiry to say that she had just moved to Almonte and was interested in collaborating! Her background is varied and fascinating, and her dedication to promoting safe and environmentally-conscious outdoor activity is inspiring.
theHumm: Based on how much work you put into your publications, website and blog, people could be forgiven for thinking that helping folks hike is your full-time job. Can you tell us a bit about what you actually do for a living, and how you integrate your passion into your life?
Vickie Walsh: GirlGoneGood® may be where all my interests collide, yet it’s not how I make a living. I’m a military veteran who works full time as an IT consultant and finished a science degree in nursing last year. Admittedly it sounds like an odd mix of interests; however, adventure, media and health are the backbone of GirlGoneGood. On average, I’ll put 4-6 hours a day into GirlGoneGood on top of working and nursing studies. Thankfully, I’m part of the 5am club, which leaves time to exercise, fulfill orders, and create resources before work starts at 8am. In the evenings I’ll spend time responding to questions and comments. That community interaction is ridiculously rewarding — I feel like we’re a family of sorts. I’ve finally started taking Sundays off completely though!
The subtitle on your website is “Wellness + Wilderness”, and I see that “portions of every sale are donated to mental health supports and local conservation efforts”. Why is it important to you to link those two concepts, rather than just addressing one or the other?
In my mind, one doesn’t happen without the other. Taking a single step in nature instantly provides calm and grounding when we take a moment to listen. They are interdependent aspects of life. There is an abundance of science that highlights the benefits of being in nature. And since nature is such an incredible gateway to our own wellbeing, and such a vital component to mental health, isn’t it in our best interest to protect and care for her? Donating over 80% of proceeds from GirlGoneGood is my way of paying it forward and contributing to the wellbeing of our community.
theHumm covers Lanark County, much of Renfrew County, and West Carleton. What are some of your favourite hiking spots in that area, and why?
In Renfrew County, my go-to escape is Deacon Escarpment. With their gorgeous off-the-grid cabins, abundance of trails and private lake — it’s paradise. No WiFi; it’s the perfect spot to “disconnect to connect” as they say. Not to mention it’s a fantastic spot to enjoy the sunset with gorgeous lookouts, and there’s always wildlife to watch for. Thankfully they offer day-use as well for those looking to hike and snowshoe. Closer to home it’s the Wabun Lake–Limestone Lake–Sugar Mountain 18km loop that wins! Mostly unmarked, it offers forest trails, lake views and a vista lookout.
In Lanark, it has to be Blueberry Mountain, the now popular trail that originally won me over when I met landowner Howard Clifford. We had a good conservation about the land, its history, and his love for it. There is a lot of heart and soul there! Not much can beat that valley view either. There’s also the unmarked trail at Kate’s Lake, which is a great spot to enjoy and reflect by the water. But be warned that reception is poor-to-none and the trail is unmarked.
As for West Carleton, I’ve always enjoyed the tranquility and wildlife at Morris Island Conservation Area. In my mind it looks like a Group of Seven painting that so aptly captures Ontario’s beauty.
Trail Guides for all these trails, including details, directions, and local insights, can be found on my website girlgonegood.com .
If you could convey one piece of advice to every hiker, what would it be?
My one piece of advice would be to adopt the perspective that “we are guests”.
We are guests of land/trail managers. Let us abide by their guidelines and rules.
We are guests on ancestral indigenous lands. Let us seek to understand, respect, and actively advocate.
We are guests in nature. Let us care for and protect her, as nature’s health and our own are connected.
Find a longer interview with Vickie, as well as links to her site, at thehumm.com .
By Sally Hansen
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By Kris Riendeau
Just before Christmas, I picked up a copy of Vickie Walsh’s Guide to Hiking Trails in Ottawa and Region. As I perused the pages and learned about many trails with which I had not yet become acquainted, it occurred to me that Vickie’s insights would be a wonderful addition to theHumm. Imagine my delight when she responded to my enquiry to say that she had just moved to Almonte and was interested in collaborating! Her background is varied and fascinating, and her dedication to promoti......
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