Temperatures are warming, skies are clearing, wildflowers are blooming and more people are getting the itch to hike. All of which means it’s time for our annual Spring Hike Leader Recruitment Drive. Not everyone is interested or inclined to lead a hike, but if you’ve ever given the notion a thought, there’s a good likelihood a hike leader lurks within. Today, one of our hike leaders — one I personally raised through our farm system — shares what led her to be a hike leader and what she enjoys about it. Kate Rice is a senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has been leading hikes with us for two years. And, nepotism be danged, she’s also my stepdaughter.
With Joe as my stepdad, it’s no surprise that I grew up in the woods. My senior year of high school, he brought a couple of my friends and me backpacking with one of his groups. I caught the backpacking bug immediately.
My love for hiking fueled a senior year full of trips with my friends, as well as some solo trips. The summer before my freshman year at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, I spent a month on the Appalachian Trail, hiking just about all of Virginia. I find myself back on the trail every time I need space to reset.
During my freshman year at UNC I struggled to find a community of folks who shared my love for getting outside. So I founded the Carolina Adventure Club, a university-registered club for outdoor adventure lovers of all experience levels. Many participants were new to hiking and backpacking, so we worked to secure loaner gear and learn best practices.
When Joe asked me to help lead the Sunday Series hikes, I leaped at the opportunity. The hikers generally have more experience than my club hikers and have a range of motivations for getting out. Most hikers want to stay active; some are pushing themselves to try something new; many have been yearning for a community with which to share their love for hiking – just as I was!
I love getting out every Sunday to trek and catch up with the hikers. I’ve loved meeting people I might not otherwise meet, over a common appreciation for being active outdoors. I enjoy our wide range of conversations – from the highlights of their last big trip to recipes to hidden talents and untold stories. I love watching their love for the outdoors grow as they become stronger hikers – a pairing that has them eager to start packing on the miles.
Plus, the Sunday Series seems to have been in cahoots with Mother Nature because we’ve had impeccable weather every Sunday afternoon, which only sweetens the deal — a deal that didn’t need sweetening to begin with.
Think you might be interested in leading a hike for one of our 8 GetHiking! Chapters, in North Carolina and Virginia? Express your interest by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll send you our Hike Leader Guidelines and a short questionnaire.