If you want some advice on great places to hike – a solid go-to is American Hiking Society’s Board Member Sally Kidd. Sally’s love of hiking laid a clear path to AHS years ago, and we are thankful for her enduring dedication to the Board of Directors and AHS’s mission to preserve the hiking experience for all. At the end of the year, Sally’s second three-year term on the Board will come to an end. Recently Sally shared stories about her history with AHS, her views on the important work AHS is doing, and of course – her favorite places to hike!
When asked about her favorite trails, Sally’s eyes sparkled. “I often hike in Shenandoah National Park. One of my favorite hikes there is the White Oak Canyon Trail with all the waterfalls cascading down.” Sally also recommended the Big Schloss Trail in George Washington National Forest in West Virginia. “It’s a 12 mile hike, and it’s just amazing.” Sally quickly listed several more while looking at her AllTrails App. “But the one I was going to tell you about in Utah, that I recommend to everyone, is the Chesler Park Loop. It’s an 11 mile trail in Canyonlands, and it is the most surreal topography…and it’s amazing.”
With all of Sally’s excitement for trails and hiking, it is no surprise she first learned about American Hiking Society while on a mountain. “It’s a fun story to tell because it all started with the hike up Mount Kilimanjaro.” Sally was celebrating her birthday by hiking the mountain with former AHS Ambassador Kara Richardson Whitely. Sally had met Kara at an event in Washington, D.C. and began following Kara’s blog about hiking. Sally says about Kara, “She’s amazing. She’s been up all kinds of mountains.” When Sally saw on Kara’s blog she was planning a trip to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, Sally reached out to ask if she could go too. “My dream was to climb Kilimanjaro, and I wanted to do it with somebody who’d already been, and she had already been up the mountain twice.” It was on that hike Kara told Sally about AHS, and she was intrigued. Then at a book signing event in 2015 for Kara’s book Gorge: My Journey Up Kilimanjaro at 300 Pounds, Sally met some of the AHS staff, and she was hooked.
Soon after the book signing event, Sally started volunteering for AHS as the Volunteer Communications Director and jumped right into helping with National Trails Day®. “We were in between communications directors. It was April, National Trails Day® was coming up and they didn’t have anybody doing communications, and I said, ‘Absolutely, let me handle this for you.’” Even after the current Communications and Creative Director, Wesley Trimble, was hired, Sally stayed on as a volunteer to help Wes, and others, with various projects. It was Sally’s belief in the mission of AHS and her desire to get even more deeply involved that led Sally to join the Board of Directors in 2017.
As Sally reflected on the six years she has spent on the Board, she said, “I’m especially proud of the work members of our Board, and members of the organization, have done toward making trails more accessible and more equitable by trying to bring more people into the hiking community – trying to appeal to diverse audience…It’s something that everyone should be able to do and should be encouraged to do. I think the Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion work the organization has done has been just so valuable.”
Sally also believes strongly in the importance of protecting the places we all love to hike by advocating for robust funding for trails and natural area preservation. “I think the challenges we face in terms of protecting our lands and protecting water quality, it’s so critical to have an organization like American Hiking Society championing trails, championing hiking and our experiences in outdoor spaces…The advocacy work, Hike the Hill®, reaching out to lawmakers to make sure hikers have a voice in Washington…If we didn’t have organizations like AHS sounding the alarm and walking the halls of Congress, we wouldn’t have these magnificent trails and these magnificent experiences.”
Not only does Sally value the advocacy work of AHS, but she has also been an active fundraiser working to make sure these important programs have the financial support they need. Throughout her time on the Board, Sally has done several fundraisers for AHS. “Last year, I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro again for a second time and raised money for American Hiking Society. Kilimanjaro was how I found out and learned about American Hiking Society, and then 10 years later, I went back as a Board member of AHS, so it all just comes full circle.” When asked where she sees American Hiking Society heading in another 10 years, Sally quickly responded, “Oh, the sky is the limit. The sky is the limit.”
Thankfully, although her time on the Board is coming to a close, Sally’s story with AHS will continue. “I think down the road I’m going to have to have to do a Volunteer Vacation and find ways to still support American Hiking Society and still be involved in a volunteer capacity – going on a Volunteer Vacation, participating in National Trails Day®, and talking up American Hiking Society at every opportunity I get.”
We are thankful for all that Sally has done during her time as a Board Member with American Hiking Society and are so excited to know her time with AHS will continue. Be sure to look out for Sally at the next Hike the Hill® and don’t be surprised if she is one of your fellow crew members on your 2023 Volunteer Vacation. If you do see her, be sure to talk with her about her favorite hikes, and get ready for some great trail stories!
Hikes recommended by Sally:
Grinnell Glacier Trail, Glacier National ParkChesler Park Loop, Canyonlands National ParkCrypt Lake Trail, Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta, CanadaBeehive Hike, Acadia National ParkMary’s Rock, Shenandoah National ParkWhite Oak Canyon Trail, Shenandoah National ParkSky Pond via Glacier Gorge, Rocky Mountain National ParkBig Schloss Trail, George Washington National ForestThe Triple Crown in Jefferson National Forest consisting of Dragons Tooth, McAfee Knob, Tinker Cliffs.