Photo by Heather “Anish” Anderson (Valley of Fire State Park, NV - US)
Heather “Anish*” Anderson on how she stays connected to the outdoors and keeps active during COVID-19 restrictions.
18 years of hiking, 11 years of trail running and nine years of mountaineering led Heather to 2019 - a really big year! She got married and started off a lifelong adventure with the man she runs, climbs and hikes with. She also climbed Mount Shasta (14 179 feet/4322 meters) via Clear Creek Route in California, US - however the most memorable trip was the route into and out of the Grand Canyon (three nights and four days) utilising ancient Puebloan routes - rappelling and traversing the Tonto Platform; “Getting to put feet and hands into the hold carved in rock by people who lived hundreds or thousands of years ago was mind-blowing. As was the entire trip into a part of the Canyon seldom seen”.
2019 was also the year Anish was awarded National Geographic Adventurer of the Year, released her first book Thirst: 2600 Miles to Home and left her home to live in her truck and went on a book tour across 15 states in the US; “It was exhausting and yet helped me realise that no matter where you are, there is something worth exploring... even if it's a city park”.
As we all know, 2020 started off differently, and this is how Heather stays connected to the outdoors and keeps active during COVID-19 restrictions.
Where in the world are you located at the moment?
- I am in the United States.
When did you start to feel the impact of COVID-19?
- I'm a bit of a germaphobe. When I read about the outbreak in Wuhan in mid-January I started preparing for quarantine, long before anyone in my area was actually sick. I've been social distancing at home since the first week of March, several weeks before my area recommended it. I have many close friends in the medical community in Seattle, so I felt the effects through them very early on.
What plans did you have before COVID-19 recommendations and restrictions came into place? Did you need to cancel or have your plans been postponed?
- As of this point, none of my plans have been cancelled since everything was scheduled for late Summer or early Autumn. However, I did have an international trip planned for September that I do think is very unlikely to happen this year.
How do you stay connected to the outdoors now - any tips to our readers/community on things to do and how to stay motivated?
- Luckily I have access to wonderful recreation areas near my home that do not see other visitors. They are primarily set aside for hunting, so no one is in there this time of year. I've also been gardening and find it not only therapeutic, but practical… fresh veggies anyone? Digging in the dirt, even if it's a container garden on the balcony of your apartment is a very powerful way to reconnect with Mother Nature.
Have you figured out ways to stay active - any workout regime you could share with our readers/community?
- I love my off season! In the late Autumn through late Spring, I spend my time doing strength training, yoga and pilates. I do this to work out imbalances from a summer of high mileage running, hiking and climbing. Find an online resource, I use YouTube, to keep you supplied with a variety of workouts that you find fun. The main ones I mix together is ‘Yoga with Adrienne’, ‘Yoga with Kassandra’, and Blogilates.
What is the first thing you are planning to do when it's safe to head outdoors again?
- It really depends on when that happens! If it's in mid-late summer I'll move forward with my plans for hiking and climbing in the Cascades. If it's earlier, I hope to do a few bikepacking adventures on rail trails in the eastern United States.
- Keep an eye out for Heather's upcoming book ‘Mud, Rocks, Blazes; Letting Go on the Appalachian Trail’ from Mountaineers Books in early 2021”.
Tips, check out this for more inspiration!
- Ted Talks ‘Redefining Happily Ever After’ (Scroll down to YouTube video)
- Outside Magazine Online (2015) "How a Personal Trainer Claimed Records on the AT and PCT”
- Backpacker (2014) “A ghost among us”
- NPR (2015) "Seattle-Area Woman Breaks Appalachian Trail Speed Record"
*Anish is the short version of Anishinaabe, the Native American peoples of the upper Midwest and into Canada. Heather's great-great-grandmother was Anishinaabe and she chose that trail name to honor her.