#HikingMakesMe Interview – Shawnté Salabert

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American Hiking Society Ambassador, Shawnté Salabert, responds to our #HikingMakesMe interview.

My name is Shawnté Salabert, but my friends call me “Shay” if they’ve known me since childhood, “Pokey” if we worked at summer camp together, or “Rustic” if we met on the trail.

When I go on a hike, I never leave home without the Ten Essentials…or my Eleventh Essential, Swedish Fish.

My favorite books are the ones that inform, inspire…and instigate trip plans! I’m currently drooling over R.J. Secor’s The High Sierra, planning to squeeze as much Sierra magic into the coming year as possible.

In addition to hiking, I love spending time climbing, writing, taking photographs, exploring different forms of human-powered travel, searching for the world’s best molé, hanging with my furry friend Eddie Cat Halen, and “earning” Girl Scout badges with my buddy Brooke.

I would love to trade places with no one because I am so exceptionally grateful to be me.

People playing music out of speakers while hiking frustrates me more than anything in the whole world.

People don’t know this about me, but I have a Master’s Degree in Social Work, and used to be a middle school counselor.

I’m most proud of making the decision – and taking a big risk – to follow my dreams; it’s not always easy, but it’s always worth it.

If I could have a superpower it would be to fly because it would be a lot easier to zip around to see all of the people I love and visit all of the places I want to explore!

My favorite meal after a strenuous hike is molé enchiladas with a side of refried beans, preceded by at least seven rounds of chips and salsa.

Of all the things still to do on my bucket list, I’m most excited about visiting the Himalaya. It’s been a dream for many, many years, and I’m committed to making it happen – soon.

My best piece of trail advice is to plan well, but be flexible. Some of my favorite trail moments have occurred when I decided to step off the beaten path, detour for a lakeside lunch, or sit around a campfire with new friends instead of pushing those last few miles. Sometimes that’s the real “trail magic.”

#HikingMakesMe happier, stronger, less materialistic, less stressed, more kind, more thoughtful, more environmentally aware, more connected, a better writer, a better educator…and a better person!