Laurie Tewksbury, Adventure Blogger, Graduate Student
Location: Syracuse, New York (USA)
Despite discovering a passion for the outdoors in one of the unlikeliest of places – a university classroom – Laurie Tewksbury has become a creative and energetic advocate for life spent outdoors. An avid list-maker, Laurie loves to create challenges for herself while encouraging others to follow along on her blog and social media feeds.
You just finished up a year in Maine. What is it like up there?
ECCO is excited to welcome Laurie to #TeamBIOM as she embarks on her 52 Hikes in 52 Weeks challenge.
Have you always been interested in the outdoors? Did you grow up hiking and camping?
I really didn’t grow up hiking and camping or anything. I started in college when I took a backpacking course. Learning that way removed all the barriers that I was worried about. We went through all the safety stuff and the technical things like cooking and then actually went backpacking up in the Adirondacks. Later, I went on a school trip to Grand Canyon for a week of backpacking and rafting. We ended up running out of food and water and having to change our route to get more. That experience really got me into the outdoors!
I did a yearlong volunteering program with AmeriCorps and loved it. I lived less than an hour from the ocean, and less than an hour from the mountains. It was crazy rugged, which I’m not really used to. My new friends and I wanted to explore as much as possible, so we made this Maine “Bucket List” of things to do. We didn’t finish the whole list but still got a ton out of it. It was mostly outdoors things like go to this park, climb this mountain, but I also included a lot of “Maine” things like eating lobster rolls and going whale watching. Every day when I was looking for something to do, I would look at the list and go check something off. I loved Maine and a lot of it was because of that.
Tell us about your new 52 hikes in 52 weeks challenge.
Well, I just moved back to Syracuse where I grew up and lived for 22 years. I was thinking about doing another bucket list because, since I got into hiking late, there are a lot of things in the area that I haven’t done. Since I was worried about having time for school and working I decided to do something a bit more manageable and do roughly a hike a week. I’m going to only do the hikes in New York so I can explore like I did in Maine. I’m a list person, so having the list on the blog sort of holds me to it. People can chime in and suggest places – it’s like a crowdsourcing experience.
You do a lot with social media. What role does it play in your outdoor life?
Social media has helped me be accountable to my goals. More than that though, I really do want to inspire people to get outside. I want to show them a way to make it easy and accessible to go on an adventure. Sometimes it’s just my friends, but other times they’re people I don’t know, which is really cool. I’ve met a lot of awesome people online and they’ve taken me on really cool adventures.
What advice would you give someone who is trying to get into hiking?
Start small and start with a friend. There’s probably a park in your town that everyone’s gone to before. Rather than going for a walk in that park, go in with a different mindset. You’re going for a hike. It’s safe. The parking lot is right there. But go out all day and pack a lunch. That’s a great way to get started.
What is your dream trip or adventure?
I really want to explore the US more. I’m thinking road trip. I want to see every state and most of the parks and really experience it as much as possible. You get a totally different feel once you know your own country and have experienced the culture at home before you cross the border.