A volunteer for the Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association and on the Board of Directors of the Florida Trail Hikers Alliance, Luanne “Tigger” Anderson has also helped open and manage an Appalachian Trail hostel in addition to her long distance hiking. She lives in Salt Springs, Florida.
What makes the outdoors a compelling place for you to be?
My father instilled in me a love for the outdoors and the mountains when I was a tiny girl. Some of my best memories with him are hiking and camping in the western North Carolina mountains. I’m refreshed and strengthened by spending time in the woods, away from distractions of the daily routine. A typical day of hiking for me generally includes lots of time just sitting on a fallen tree or a rock, soaking in the quiet and the peace.
A place or interaction on the trail that made a major impression on you
I was just about to hit the “empty nest” stage of my life when on a day trip to Clingman’s Dome in Great Smoky Mountains National Park I saw a small group of backpackers. Their smiles and peaceful eyes spoke volumes to me. I chatted with them briefly and learned that they were thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail. I promised myself right then that I would do that one day.
Several years later I was the one with the peaceful eyes and the smile on my face, doing what I had dreamed of doing that day. My husband and I hiked a “long section” of about 2,000 miles, and we have less than 200 miles to go to complete the Appalachian Trail. I plan to do that over the next two years.
A memorable challenge you dealt with on a hike
My hiking philosophy has changed since I first stepped foot on the AT for a thru-hike. I now hit the trail in small sections and take my time. After meeting the challenge of a 2,000-mile hike, I know I can do it. I have the confidence and knowledge to finish the AT, as well as other long-distance trails that I’ve done sections of. But more importantly, I’ve learned to slow down, to not be intimidated by a huge climb ahead of me, and to stop and rest when my body says it’s needed.
How the outdoors has changed your life
A five-month hike was one of the most amazing experiences of my entire life. It’s hard to put into words what it’s like to live day after day with only what you carry on your back, away from the stresses of everyday life. As I spent more and more time on the trail, I became extremely sensitive to nature’s noises and scents, and beauty that is sometimes simple and sometimes complex. It’s almost as if I live in two different worlds…..one with responsibilities and schedules, and one that I get to escape to once in a while, which is, in a way, more real.