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Meet Laura!

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Oh gosh where do I start? I grew up in rural Western New York- about halfway between Buffalo and Rochester. I have 3 children: a 17-year-old daughter, a 13-year-old son, and an 8-year-old daughter. I currently am a teacher in the same school from which I graduated. I’ve been teaching High School Art for 18 years now! I keep pretty busy between work, kids, hiking, working out, spending time with my boyfriend and friends, and trying to find time to keep my house in order. I also head the school’s Streaming Club where we live stream every home event during Covid. This usually adds up to 4 hours to my workday 3-4 times a week. On top of it all, I am back in college working on my ‘retirement plan’. I am working toward another bachelor degree, this time in Geosciences- with a focus on GIS. The hope is to work for the DEC some day. So to say I am busy is an understatement!

What are your favorite ways to get your miles?

My favorite way to get my miles is hitting the more secluded/less traveled trails near me. I live about 20 minutes from Letchworth State Park, which has tons of trails and beautiful scenery to boot. There is also a nice quiet relatively unknown set of trails 5 minutes from my house. My boyfriend and I also love to hit the Finger Lakes Trail, which is a long trail that traverses New York State. I also do a TON of stationary bike training as well. While it is not as enjoyable as being in the woods, it keeps me active.

What’s your favorite outdoor memory?

It is so hard to pick one favorite memory. The first that comes to mind was last summer when my partner and I did a weeklong section on the Appalachian Trail. We started at ‘The Arch” at Amicalola Falls in Georgia and hiked the Approach Trail. It was a STRUGGLE. I was 20lbs heavier than I am now, carrying 25 lbs of gear (although the year prior I was another 20lbs heavier then too!). We made our way to summit Springer Mountain that afternoon. Just as we are about a mile away it begins to thunderstorm and just pound us with rain. After an extremely long day, we reached the summit of Springer Mountain together in a torrential downpour. It was so exhilarating! I’ve never felt so alive!

Do you have a “disaster” story?

Our favorite ‘disaster’ was just about a year ago in April. We set out to complete a map section on the Finger Lakes Trail (M6) for my boyfriend’s birthday. The plan was to do 13 miles on day one, then stay in the lean-to and then finish the remaining miles the next day. Well the weather did not want us to finish this hike. Hiking in freezing temps with heavy rain is no joke! I remember just watching the water pour out of my mittens with each step. One mile in we came to a creek crossing, which the heavy rain had conveniently turned this little creek into a raging river from all the precipitation. There was no way to cross it with out getting our boots soaked, and going around was just not in the cards, so I took off my boots and crossed barefoot. I’ve never been so cold in my life! But we continued for the 13 miles to the lean-to. We ended up having to call my mom to pick us up at the nearest trailhead, as it was so wet we couldn’t get a fire started. Glad we were so close to home!

What have you always wanted to try?

There are so many things I want to try- I’d love to be able to thru-hike the FLT and the Long Trail. I’d love to put my feet on a trail in each state, how cool would that be? I’d love to check out the trails out west. I enjoy learning about all the geological eccentricities of each state. There are just so many beautiful places to hike in the US!

What are you looking forward to?

I am looking forward to so many things. This first is this school year being over and hopefully being able to start fresh next September- hybrid/virtual teaching is not fun. Hiking related, my boyfriend and I are heading back to Georgia this summer to finish up that section of the Appalachian Trail- we’ve got about 60 miles to do. Next year we are planning to travel overseas to visit his sister when she is stationed in London. It’ll be fun to check out what England has to offer. And most importantly my daughter GRADUATES this year- goes by too fast!

Do you prefer going out hiking or with friends/family?  Why?

I prefer to hike with my boyfriend Tom. Since I started doing the 365 mile challenge 5 years ago, it has been a source of motivation to me. Being able to share my love of the outdoors with him just makes these adventures that much more meaningful. He is a great partner in so many ways. Once in a while my youngest daughter or my son will come with us, which just makes my heart happy.

Are you enjoying the 365 Mile Challenge?

I LOVE the 365 Mile Challenge. It really motivates me to push myself. When I started 5 years ago, I was walking the roads near my house. As the years went by I branched out to find more places to go. Today, I couldn’t imagine where I would be or what I’d be doing if I didn’t get off my butt that first year and take that step. Think about it, 5 years ago I was struggling with a 1-mile road walk and now I’m hiking double digits and climbing mountains like it’s nobody’s business! Where will you be in 5 years?

You are a big source of inspiration for the group. What inspires you?

Do you want the sappy answer? My kids inspire me greatly. But I think the biggest part of the motivation I get is really from myself. Knowing that I can be better than I was last year, last week, yesterday; is what keeps me going. I’ve struggled with weight issues for the last decade (or two!) and needed a way to keep active. I am no spring chicken anymore (42 years young), and I refuse to get old passively. Hiking has put me in the best shape I’ve been in since I was a college soccer player!

Is there anything that you want us to know about you?

Here are some fun facts: 1. Grew up and live in Attica, NY- yes that Attica, famous for the prison riot in 1971. I can see the prison from my classroom and my house. 2. Currently restoring a 69 Chevelle Malibu. Hopefully this will be driving me to trailheads in the next month! 3. Mom of 3 kids from 3 different fathers- makes me a firm believer in not judging. My kids are awesome and so is their mom!  4. I have an irrational fear of wet paper towels. 

Anything that you’d like to add?

I think I rambled on enough!


Thank you Laura! It was awesome to learn more about you!

Share Your Thoughts With Us

1 Comment

  1. Donna Mackowiak

    Very well written, and inspirational.  

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