Alison has an inviting warmth in her voice that makes you stop what you’re doing and focus on what she’s saying.

Blissful Hiker Alison Young’s KEYNOTES

Alison's Speaking Programs

With over 12,000 miles logged as a backpacker on six continents and a background as a world class professional musician and nationally syndicated radio host, Alison Young offers a unique perspective with engaging programs that connect us with the natural world and ultimately help us grapple with life’s challenges.

When you book one of Alison’s keynote presentations you can count on a highly energetic experience. Whether exploring the power of intentional quitting, helping teams find their creative muse or increasing access to joy, Alison’s programs will make you think, make you laugh, and spark positive and actionable change.


Alison's Speaking Programs are best for

• conference events
• association meetings
• business roundtable
• educational and spiritual settings
• outdoor expositions
• life enrichment

All of Alison's programs can be presented in the following formats:




Quit with Grit

intentionally letting go as a key to a more fulfilling life

So many of us know the “secret to success” mantra – quitters don’t win and winners don’t quit but sometimes, quitting is exactly the right course of action.

In fact, quit and grit are two sides of the same coin. Developing the skills to know when to say “no” can open us up to better opportunities to explore more, do more, and find the right things worth sticking to. 

As a long-distance backpacker, Alison Young shares her adventure experiences oftentimes in life-threatening situations, where understanding the biases and blocks to quitting helped her find more success and deeper gratification on and off the trail.


Stepping into Joy

using uncertainty to energize reinvention

Transitions are hard. While they offer equal parts anticipation and opportunity, getting centered can often prove elusive.

After a debilitating condition destroyed her music career, Alison Young sold her beloved flute and set out on a journey to walk the length of New Zealand. Her goal was not only to finish the trail, but to access joy and discover how to step into the rest of her life. As she braved extreme weather, precarious river crossings, swarms of sandflies and epic mud, she discovered that joy resides within, no matter her circumstances, and could lead her to a successful reinvention. 

A master storyteller and inspirational voice, Alison helps you build your skills in accepting and even embracing change and uncertainty as a part of a joyful life. You’ll gain insight on ways to embrace the dark moments while still moving forward. You’ll create a safe space for doubt and regret as you discover how to get unstuck. And you’ll use risk taking to develop resilience, and ultimately step into joyful reinvention.


At the speed of andante

capturing the creative muse

Andante (on-DON-tay) is a musical term that means “at a moderate walking speed.” Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Wagner and Bach are just a few of the classical composers who walked in natural settings to capture their muse and compose some of the most enduring music ever written.

What they discovered intuitively was that walking is not separate from creativity – it’s largely responsible for creativity. Composers and other artists may not have known why walking worked, but there’s scientific evidence to back it up.

This came as welcome news to Alison Young who lives a dual life as a professional musician and long distance backpacker. She shares her enthusiasm for the intersection of classical music and walking as well as ways to tap into your own creativity. 


My wife and I have seen several programs by hikers and considered At the Speed of Andante to be not only the best, but in a class by itself in terms of its intellectual as well as aesthetic quality…it is a nostalgic reminder that in the past nature played a more important role in shaping people’s feelings and values than it does today.

William Wooley

Author and Ripon College Professor Emeritus of History

They loved her so much, they wouldn’t let her leave!

Nina Raasch

Fairway Knoll Community

Alison engages her audience with her words and visuals, her passion, preparation, and her storytelling.  These words from poet Mary Oliver on how to live a life apply to Alison’s presentation style:   “Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.”  On the familiar “would you recommend scale (0-10),” Alison rates a 10.

Bill Etter

For the Education Committee, Folkestone

Alison's travelogues

Through images, video, found sound, and stories, Alison takes you on a journey through some of the most spectacular natural settings in the world. 

pacific crest trail

from Cascades to Desert

A few years ago, Alison Young was out of a job and out of ideas, so 100% boss free and with lots of time on her hands, she made a last-minute decision to walk the entire Pacific Crest Trail from Canada to Mexico. A combination of trail angels, superb weather and practically zero natural hazards like wildfire, as well as just the right amount of solitude and togetherness made this a spectacular journey in some of the most spectacular mountain landscape in the world.

The WindS

Wind River High Route

It had been a dream for a long time to walk Wyoming’s Wind River High Route, considered one of the finest, non-technical, end-to-end alpine journeys in the United States. But how could a middle-aged hiker with new hips and deteriorating knees make it happen? By picking an awesome set of girlfriends to hike with and taking it one step at a time. The reward was spectacular granite towers, wildflower-covered meadows and hundreds of glacier-fed lakes and streams, plus deepening friendships.

Te Araroa

New Zealand's long pathway

What motivates a middle-aged woman to brave extreme weather, precarious river crossings, swarms of sandflies and epic mud on what is less of a “trail” and more of an idea? Perhaps it’s the breathtaking scenery and a renewed sense of wonder on a spectacular solo tramp end-to-end of 3,000 kilometers on New Zealand’s answer to the Appalachian Trail, the Te Araroa (TEH ah-rah-ROH-uh)

Isle Royale

moose and wolves and otters

On an enchanted and remote island in the middle of the largest lake in the world, Alison Young went from FOMO – the Fear Of Missing Out – to JOMO – the Joy of Missing Out. It was a time of pandemic, of shutdowns and uncertainty, of general restlessness. Still, she flew across Lake Superior with enough time to walk the island end-to end. Although trails were closed, rain obscured views and her body was breaking down, it was a journey that surprised her with joy.

Karakorum, Pakistan

in the throne room of the gods

High in the Mountains that separate Pakistan from China sit the highest mountains in the world, including K2, the most dangerous of all to climb. Happenstance would bring Alison Young there, first to visit her father, serving in the diplomatic core in Islamabad, and then connecting with strangers on a trek to this incredible place. It was one of the most dangerous yet electrifying experiences of a lifetime.


an adventure to renewal

Transitions like the New Year, Advent, and Lent bring with them anticipation and opportunity. It’s a time we prepare for joy and inner peace, feelings that can often prove elusive. Last year, Alison Young – the Blissful Hiker – walked the 800-mile Arizona Trail. As arid desert gave way to lush forest, deep canyons to “sky islands,” surprises were revealed and her steps became grounded with the spirit and ones of meditative wonder.