Heather “Anish” Anderson Talks About Letting Go on the Appalachian Trail
Heather “Anish” Anderson is a force on and off the trails. Named a National Geographic Adventurer of the Year, she’s the only woman who has completed the Appalachian, Pacific Crest, and Continental Divide trails each three times. This includes a 2018 calendar year triple crown hike. She also holds the overall self-supported fastest known time (FKT) on the Pacific Crest Trail and the female self-supported FKT on the Appalachian and Arizona Trails.
To top it off, she’s the author of two books detailing the physical and emotional journeys of her time on trail. The latest, Mud, Rocks, Blazes: Letting Go on the Appalachian Trail, will be released on March 1, 2021.
(Oh, and we’re super proud to call her one of our brand ambassadors!)
Interview with Heather “Anish” Anderson on Her New Book, Mud, Rocks, Blazes: Letting Go on the Appalachian Trail
We caught up with Anish to learn more about her new book, what the writing process is like, and, of course, what her Gossamer Gear product MVP is on the trail.
Gossamer Gear: Can you tell us a little about how this book came to be? In what ways is it different than your first book, Thirst: 2,600 Miles to Home?
Heather: I’ve been a writer since I could string letters together. Mud, Rocks, Blazes is different from Thirst because it’s about my 2015 Appalachian Trail Fastest Known Time. But, more than that though, it’s an illustration of the prevalence of imposter syndrome among high achieving women, and overcoming a lifetime of self-doubt through introspection and effort. Thirst was the narrative of groundwork. Mud, Rocks, Blazes is the story of fruition. Although I never set out to write either book, the personal growth journeys I experienced on each trail are applicable to anyone—not just hikers. Thus, I wanted to share them in book form alongside a good trail story.
A question that you live by is: How would your life look if you dared to follow your dream? Can you tell us a bit about how that impacts your day-to-day life and how it connects to this new book?
I’ve been wildly in love with hiking ever since I found it. I have wanted to be an author since I was a young child. Over and over throughout my life I’ve been told directly and indirectly that these dreams are not tenable as long-term ways to live life. Yet, when I finally had the courage to pursue both of them with everything I have, I’ve found more contentment than I ever had prior. Stepping into the driver’s seat of my own life and living it fully has made all the difference.
The Appalachian Trail is nearly 2,200 miles long. That’s a lot of time and space for multiple stories to arise. How did you process which story arcs throughout the journey were worth including in the book?
Luckily, that’s why I have an entire editorial staff!! Thirst would have been twice as long were it not for the wonderful team of editors at my publisher—Mountaineers Books—that helped me hone in on the best arc possible. Mud, Rocks, Blazes needed less revising in that department because of the prior experience I’d had with them guiding me in the creation of impactful memoir from my stories. No matter what, a lot of content gets left on the cutting room floor! This is why I offer a free deleted chapter from Thirst to new subscribers to my email list. It’s really fun to share the parts that didn’t make it into the book. If any of your readers want to check out the bonus chapter, they can sign up for my newsletter.
How do you hope this book impacts your readers by the end?
I wrote Mud, Rocks, Blazes to share what was an epic adventure on trail as well as internally. I love a good adventure story and the personal growth I found along the way has applications for many people—even those who don’t hike. In the end, I wanted to share what was the most powerful 54 days of my life with others in hopes that it will inspire them to follow their dreams on and off the trail.
We have to ask. What current Gossamer Gear product is serving as your MVP?
It’s still the Gorilla pack! Although right now I’m rocking the slightly larger and lovely yellow edition rather than the smaller gray one I used on the AT in 2015. That pack is actually on display in the Appalachian Trail Museum in Pine Grove Furnace State Park near the halfway point of the AT.
What other projects do you have on the horizon and what’s the best way people can follow along with your journey?
I’m currently working on my third book(!), this time a prescriptive guide rather than another memoir. I’m also working on a variety of courses to share some of the knowledge gained from over 40K backcountry miles. The best way to stay up to date is to follow on Instagram @_wordsfromthewild_ or to sign up for my newsletter. Gear lists and other trip info can be found on my website.
Order Your Copy of Mud, Rocks, Blazes: Letting Go on the Appalachian Trail Today
We hope you’re as excited as we are to read Mud, Rocks, Blazes: Letting Go on the Appalachian Trail. You can place your pre-order for the book online, which will get you an autographed copy as soon as they’re ready to ship! Also, make sure to keep your eyes on our Instagram account for an upcoming giveaway including Anish’s latest book and other fun prizes.