10 Essential Questions: Susan Elderkin

Meet Susan Elderkin, a new guidebook author with Mountaineers Books who feels a special calling to get families outdoors -- hiking is a great way to get kids away from screens, learn healthy habits, and connect with the environment.
The Mountaineers The Mountaineers
April 27, 2018

Each week we bring you a personal story from one of our members. For our member profile this week we talked to....

Name: Susan Elderkin
Hometown: Cedar Rapids, IA
Book Publish Date: April 2018
Occupation: Guidebook Author of Best Hikes With Kids: Western Washington
Favorite Activities: Hiking, backpacking and camping

10 Essentials: Questions

How did you get involved with The Mountaineers?

My bookshelf overflows with books published by Mountaineers Books. When I moved to Seattle in 1995, I immediately bought the entire series of 100 Classic Hikes books by Harvey Manning and Ira Spring, and then I started hiking, backpacking, and exploring this great state. I eagerly added the more recent series of Day Hiking books, and when I had kids, I picked up Joan Burton's Best Hikes with Kids and read it from cover to cover. Three years ago I was honored to be asked to write an all-new volume of Best Hikes with Kids: Western Washington for Mountaineers Books. I also serve on the Board of Directors for Braided River, an imprint of Mountaineers Books.

What motivates you to get outside with us?

The Mountaineers and Mountaineers Books do an extraordinary service in introducing the outdoors to new people and inspiring them to explore it safely and responsibly. I feel a special calling to get families outdoors -- hiking is a great way to get kids away from screens, learn healthy habits, and connect with the environment. I really believe that if you introduce kids to hiking at a young age, they will understand how important it is that we protect wild places, and hopefully, they will introduce their own kids to hiking. I'm very excited about the growth and focus in youth programs at The Mountaineers! 

What's your favorite Mountaineers memory?

Writing Best Hikes with Kids: Western Washington, of course! I took about 150 hikes over 20 months of research, exploring corners of the state that I had never been before. I also brought my kids on more than half of the hikes, sometimes spending a week living out of the tent and hiking trails for the book. These were good times!

Who/What inspires you?

I am inspired by being outdoors -- big mountain vistas, but also the small things, like a patch of forest floor packed with moss and spring wildflowers. I get energy from the fresh air, that changes scent with the seasons. Hiking is a needed meditation.

What does adventure mean to you?

Exploring somewhere new! One of my favorite adventures from the book research was going to the Windy Point side of Mount St. Helens with my daughter. Because it is so hard to get to, it had eluded me for twenty years. She and I hiked the Harmony Trail down to the shores of Spirit Lake and jumped in to cool off. We were the only ones there, and it made me think of all of the other adventures that happened here prior to the 1980 eruption. This was where people traditionally viewed the mountain, and now it was just the two of us.

Lightning Round
Sunrise or sunset? Sunset.
Smile or game face? Smile. 
What's your 11th essential? Whistle.
Post-adventure meal of choice? Burger and milkshake.
If you could be a rockstar at any outdoor activity overnight, what would it be? Sailing.

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