Hi! I’m Alison Young, the “solo, female, middle-aged, titanium-reinforced, long-distance backpacker, Blissful Hiker.” Join me as I walk you through spectacular vistas, where the outdoors becomes the classroom and teaches us how to “hike our own hikes” in life’s journey.
A former flutist and American Public Media radio host, Alison Young brings her extensive artistic training and communication skills to her role as professional speaker, using image, found sound, and metaphor-rich language to challenge, inspire and teach audiences how to find joy, understand the power of quitting, and tap into their creativity.
- Te Araroa, stepping into joy on New Zealand’s Long Pathway
What motivates a middle-aged woman to brave extreme weather, precarious river crossings, swarms of sandflies and epic mud? Breathtaking scenery and a renewed sense of wonder. Join Alison Young – the Blissful Hiker – for a spectacular solo journey of New Zealand’s 2,000 mile “Long Pathway,” Te Araroa (TAY ah-dah-DOH-uh) as she discovers that joy is a choice.
- The Courage to Quit – Intentionally letting go as a key to success
For most of us, quitting means failing. But oftentimes, we hang in there too long, sticking with things that don’t serve us anymore and missing out on better opportunities. As a long-distance backpacker, Alison Young shares her experiences grappling with this disconnect, oftentimes in life-threatening situations, where understanding the biases and blocks to quitting helped her find more success and deeper gratification on – as well as off – trail.
- An Adventure to Renewal, meditative wonder on the Arizona Trail
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.
- 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 classical composers who walked in natural settings then created some of the most enduring music in the world. Learn how and why walking works to fuel the mind to enhance your own creativity.
Through images, video, sound and stories, we’ll walk together, feeling the crunch of volcanic rock, hearing the call of shore birds, smelling sweet balsam in a rain forest, touching the bits of gear I carry to sustain me outdoors for weeks on end – and seeing some of the most marvelous scenery in the world, where I learn to navigate not just the trail, but life.
- Pacific Crest Trail, pluck and a whole lotta luck 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.
- A Walk across Isle Royale
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.
- The Wind River High Route, a trail-less wonder of Alpine beauty
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 all 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.
- In the Throne Room of the Gods, trekking the Karakorum, Pakistan
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
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
They loved her so much, they wouldn’t let her leave!–Fairway Knoll
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