My enthusiasm for the outdoors started at a young age, in the woods of my hometown, Winterport, Maine, where I’d collect bugs and chase after wild turkeys. For years, my extended family has taken annual trips to Baxter State Park to hike and camp (we still do). My parents bought me an Old Town Loon kayak for my 16th birthday. But my true passion is hiking. While working at an outfitter in Bangor, I became a gearhead and learned more about being active in the outdoors from experienced thru-hikers, paddlers, bird watchers and climbers. I snuck my love for birch trees and granite crags into academia. While studying journalism at the University of Maine, I completed an Honors College thesis on hiking, a yearlong project about Maine trails and how being active in the environment has a positive impact on a person’s health.