Bookmarks | Adventure Ready

In this piece from Mountaineer magazine, we share an interview with thru-hikers and authors Katie Gerber and Heather Anderson about their new book, Adventure Ready.
Marissa Litak Marissa Litak
Mountaineers Books Publicist
August 09, 2022
Bookmarks | Adventure Ready

The reputations of Katie “Salty” Gerber and Heather “Anish” Anderson precede them. Katie is a renowned wilderness instructor and guide who has logged thousands of miles on trails including the CDT, PCT, Colorado Trail, and Oregon Desert Trail. Heather is a record-smashing legend who was named a National Geographic Adventurer of the Year for her 2018 Calendar Year Triple Crown (hiking the AT, PCT, and CDT all in one year). Now they have joined forces to combine what they’ve learned on the trail and through their expertise in nutrition and personal training to create Adventure Ready: A Hiker’s Guide to Planning, Training & Resiliency, new from Mountaineers Books.

To mark the release of this step-by-step guide to preparation, movement, nutrition, and recovery for backpackers and thru-hikers of all levels, Katie and Heather sat down for a conversation about thru-hiking, learning on the trail, and hiking your own hike.


You’ve both had profound experiences on the trail, times when you’ve fostered confidence and resiliency. What are some ways this has served you in your daily lives?

Katie Gerber: So much of what I’ve learned on trail has made me better equipped for life off trail! One of the biggest lessons I’ve taken from time in the backcountry is adaptability. It’s great to have a plan, but life inevitably throws you curveballs. Accepting the situation for what it is, remaining calm, and shifting quickly into problem-solving mode has served me on trail as well as in daily life at home. Exploring my physical and mental limits on trail has shown me that I’m capable of more than I thought, and that confidence emboldens me to make uncommon choices and pursue a life that feels meaningful to me.

Heather Anderson: For me, spending time on the trail has been the equivalent of decades on a therapist’s couch (and much cheaper!). I've worked through so much trauma and grief by immersing myself in nature and allowing myself to heal. Every tool I have for coping with daily life was nurtured by my on-trail experiences.

What would you say to someone who feels like they’ve “failed” for starting a thru-hike and not being able to complete it (for whatever reason)?

K: As cliché as it is, I truly believe there’s no such thing as failure when you’re pursuing your dream. It’s all feedback. If it didn’t turn out how you wanted, evaluate whether there’s something to learn that you can apply next time. Examine the narrative you’re telling yourself about the event. Framing it as a failure affects your self-concept and prevents you from wanting to try again. Being proud of yourself for taking action towards a goal and learning from an experience sets you up for growth. Don’t let your past define your future. Finally, trust yourself. If you decided it was time to get off trail, for whatever reason, trust that you made the right decision for you at that moment. If you want to complete the trail later, it’ll always be there for you.

H: Fail is a word that should be wiped from your vocabulary - especially when it comes to hiking or other outdoor endeavors! A thru-hike may start as a box to be checked, but it's really a journey that is far more encompassing than simply reaching the terminus. Whether your hike lasts a week or several months, or whether you walk a third of the way or all of it; you will learn something. Even taking the courageous step to start your trek will teach you so much about your own depths of bravery and willingness to discover more about your abilities. There is no failure in not completing your dream or having the end point be different than you thought it would be when you started.

What is the most important thing you hope readers take away from Adventure Ready?

K: My deepest intention with the book, and all my work, is that readers come away with the knowledge and skills to safely and confidently embark on more backcountry adventures. I hope readers feel empowered and capable.

H: I hope readers gain a sense of confidence in themselves by reading through Adventure Ready. More than simply feeling equipped with knowledge, I hope they develop trust in themselves to learn, grow, and make decisions both on trail and off. No one's journey is the same as another's and our desire is to encourage readers to embark on their own journey with self-confidence.

Colors updated - Hiking partners enjoy a sunset together at the end of a long day p23.jpgHiking partners enjoying the sun together at the end of a long day. 

Lightning round

Tent or tarp?

K: Single-wall trekking pole shelter
H: Tent

Creamy or crunchy peanut butter?

Both: Crunchy

Siesta or hike all day?

K: Hike all day, but with breaks for snacks and vistas
H: Hike all day and into the night!

Hiking boots or trail runners?

Both: Trail runners

Worst ailment to befall your feet?

K: Heel blisters!
H: Some sort of painful tissue tear during my Calendar Year Triple Crown

Most important item in your first aid kit?

K: First, my brain (skills, knowledge, experience) and ability to remain calm. Secondly, my satellite communication device.
H: Neosporin

Favorite thing to find in a hiker box?

K: An unopened bag of something salty and crunchy
H: Sunglasses that are better than the ones I'm wearing

Adventure Ready is available for purchase at our Seattle Program Center bookstore, on our website, and everywhere books are sold. Also check out Heather’s two previous memoirs, Thirst and Mud, Rocks, Blazes, chronicling her record-setting hikes on the PCT and AT.

This article originally appeared in our summer 2022 issue of Mountaineer magazine. To view the original article in magazine form and read more stories from our publication, visit our magazine archive