I have hiked the long trails of America using the moniker “Why Not?!” Here is the genesis of that name….
In November 2007 I read one more book about someone else’s adventure. This time it was “Rowing to Latitude” by Jill Fredston. She lived in Alaska and explored that state and more in a kayak converted to a rowing shell. As I was reading, the conversation in my head went something like this……
“This is my life. Why don’t I get to live it? Why someone else? Why not me?”
“If that is your life, what is stopping you?”
“Well, first, owning my own dental practice. I can’t take off more than 1 or 2 weeks at a time.”
“Then get rid of it!”
And with that I saw a path to freedom, adventure and the life I wanted.
I was a dentist for 27 years and had my own practice for most of that time. I liked it and was good at it. I had great patients and many had become friends. I had the best staff ever which made my life so much better and easier. I found a wonderful dentist to take over and on January 1, 2009, I was done.
A little less than four months later I set off to hike the entire 2650 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail. This one hundred and fifty nine day experience was the best adventure of my life. I met so many incredible people, was the recipient of so much generosity and goodness, and witnessed some amazing scenery, plus I had time to just think.
I’ve continued to hike since then and have loved almost every minute of it. Meeting the physical and mental challenges has been good for body and soul. It has brought me a joy and peace that is hard to explain. Why Not?!
I love your posts, been reading your latest trip. Reminds me of a lot of hikes I took when I lived in Palm Springs & Northern San Diego County, saw a lot of the area & loved the high desert beauty with flowering cactus, desert oasis’, surprise springs & beautiful spacious views. Your photos make me smile. I read a little about your first trip because Berta game me your website . I just went to visit your mom this winter on my vacation and was pleasantly surprised to see Steve ( I mistook him for Johnny at first) answer the door and then Jim dropped by. I had a wonderful visit with your mom & brothers and all telling stories & showing me beautiful things your dad made ( & beautiful things that Margie made too out of wood) that can be found all over the house. He was a miracle worker with wood Steve just sent me your website and I am enjoying your blog very much. You so inspire me & I thank you because you make me feel like I am on the hike with you….. & you give such encouragement & kind words to so many & I thank your for that too. You really are an inspiration. … to take a risk and go on an adventure & to get out there & enjoy nature & live. I’m looking forward to your future posts and maybe can catch you on the trail when you are around Bucks Lake or closer to Redding. I wish you sage & safe trails, & a hot shower & an ice cold beer once a while, Anna
Anna… so very nice to hear from you. Mom said she had a wonderful time visiting with you. Where do you live? Would love to see you.
I also had a very good visit with your mom & had a pleasant surprise to see Steve answer the door & then Jim stopped by & we all had a good time chatting about the funny things that we remembered on Russell St. as kids. Its hard for me not to call them Stevie & Jimmie, thats just who they are to me.
I would love to see you too! I live in Yuba City right now. I just moved here last year from Chico to be closer to my job. It’s a place that has lots of delicious farm produce & orchard fruit, especially peaches & plums. I’m a foodie so I’m also quite content with the East Indian & the variety of Mexican food available in the area. I do miss Chico & all of my friends there & may move back, but time will tell. For now, I’m in Yuba City & making the best of it & thoroughly enjoying reading your blog & viewing your beautiful pictures. Someday soon I envision taking the trail for a hiking adventure with a friend of mine from Quincy. She loves the outdoors too & we both love your nature pictures because we love photography. I love to find interesting geometric shapes in nature & photograph them. We both loved your most recent pine cone shot. You are most definitely inspiring us, even for an overnight trip to start. I’d like to get a few of my friends together for a starter hike & camp out. We are baby beginners, but we have heart. Looking forward to reading more about your adventures. Safe & Happy Trails, Anna
Hi Nancy, how funny to find your blog! I`m also a dentist who sold my dental practise and am about to go hiking in stead! At least for some time… You`ve done some great hikes and your blog gives me hours of good reads!
I have found hiking to be way better than dentistry! I liked it while I did it. Now I have no interest. I hope you get as much out of it as I have. If I can help you on any way just ask.
I just looked at your blog. Great photos. Where are you from?
Hi Nancy, I`m from Norway. Now I`m reading your TeAraora-blog (you`ve just come to Whanganui). I love it! I`ve got four months left of dentistry, then I`m off hiking Norway from north to south from May to September. But I think I`ll give myself at least a year off from work, and Te Araora sounds fantastic, so if my feet are still cooperative, I would love to go to New Zealand in October.
Hi. I’ve found your blog through Rockin’s blog and am excited to read about your thru-hiking adventures. You are an inspiration to me as are Rockin and Wired. It has been many years (40) since I have backpacked and am thrilled to come back to it at a time when ultralight is the norm.
Nancy, as always I’m in awe at you! Sure, it’s impressive that you’ve walked across New Zealand and you’re 60, but even if you forget the age thing, it’s still super impressive! 🙂 Who does that at any age? I hope we can walk across Madagascar together!
I keep thinking of how much more overgrown Madagascar will be!
Tears. I have had this conversation in my head many times. Good for you for doing something about it! Why Not is the perfect name!! So glad I found you ladies..
It’s Austin, Laurie & Jim’s nephew 🙂
So glad to see your most recent adventures!! You’ve done such an awesome job, it’s super inspiring. I still remember last summer at Laurie’s b-day party when we had a wonderful conversation about long distance hiking and high routes. Jim mentioned to me that you were doing the SHR this summer. I was so pleased to read that you had the same exact reaction as I did–off-trail hiking is where it’s at, I’m ruined for on-trail hiking from now on!
Anyways, Jim did not mention to me that you were also doing Skurka’s WRHR! I was actually there doing Skurka’s just about two weeks after you. I remember talking with you about how excited I was for Skurka’s mapset last summer so it was really cool to see your accomplish this awesome route :). I’m really sorry to hear that you had so much smoke. It was totally clear by the time we went. But I’m so glad you did it! Isn’t it just such an amazing route? Anyways, I was really heartbroken because I didn’t pick a good match for a hiking partner. Unfortunately he just wasn’t a strong enough hiker to finish the route. It was his very first high route, and first time backpacking in many, many years, so I guess it was kinda my fault for asking him to join on such an advanced deal. Anyways, after we got to Europe Peak, he insisted that we had to bail. I’m still heartbroken and having a hard time getting over it. I would have been better off going with you! (Speaking of which, if you ever want to hike together let me know). Taught me a very valuable lesson about picking your hiking partners if you don’t want your trip to be potentially ruined. Anyways I’ll be back next August to do the whole thing start to finish though. And HUGE props to you for doing two world-class high routes!!
Out of curiosity, what’s your next big trip? I just started a PhD program at Cornell, so nothing besides weekenders for the time being. I think in June 2017 I want to do the Cordillera Blanca Traverse that Cam Honan posted about though.
Anyways, best wishes! Hope we can stay in touch!
Thank you for this. I will give you a much longer reply soon. All the best with school. If you get back home it would be fun to get together.
Thank you for the tchat at the airport ! I hope you ll enjoy your trip in Europe ! If you need anything in Paris just let me know !
Florence Et martin
It was wonderful to talk to you. We have 2 days to see Paris! Not enough. Thanks for the offer to help. Hope to see you again.
Hey Dr. H! It is really awesome to read your blogs about the thru hikes and adventures you have done. Christina and my oldest son is 11 and just bridged to Boy Scouts from cub scouts, and I will be the den leader for our youngest’s den in cub scouts. Preston and I went on a fun 13 mile hike in Hech Hechee in Yosemite about a month ago and ever since, I have gotten the hiking bug. I have always loved the mountains and the outdoors. I look forward to the cub scout adventures, but would like to also explore some longer hikes (Tahoe Rim, John Muir) that are closer to us.
Until then I will keep reading your blogs and when the time comes, I would love to pick your brain about thru hiking.
That is so wonderful that you are sharing the great outdoors with your kids. Outside is best. I will talk all things hiking with you anytime. It’s my favorite subject!
Are you hiking and blogging?