I’m Michelle Kennedy, and in addition to being a wilderness guide, I am also a professional author, dog musher, organic gardener, novice herbalist, and mother of eight. I’ve lived in a lot of places in my life. Even as a child, my family moved a fair amount, so I never really felt attached to any one place. And then Vermont came into my life. As a 12-year-old child of the suburbs – more used to hiking around the mall on a Saturday afternoon than a forest – I was NOT happy to land on a 40-acre sheep farm on the side of (what I thought was) a mountain in the middle of absolutely nowhere in Vermont.
The town I moved to, way back in 1984, was a small town of a thousand people. It still is. I graduated with 35 other kids, who came not just from our wee town, but from towns nearby – and not so nearby.
A friend who has now since passed welcomed me back to my hometown with open arms about five years ago, and on seeing me, said: “Michelle! Thank God, you’re back! We need more people from here to come back (I was so happy he thought of me as “from here”). Look at how much it’s changed!”
I tried to see the change. But really, except for a store that was now a church and a couple of other businesses that had gone or changed, it was…pretty much…exactly the same. Right down to the guy who plowed the roads and the rose bushes that remain on the corner where the steps of my pizza shop once stood so many years ago.
Almost 40, gulp, years ago, I came to Vermont skeptical, angry, and not just a little snobbish. I had never had “well” water before. You mean there’s actually a hole in the ground, lined with concrete, where the water comes into the house? What do you mean that I have to change the lightbulb under the cover in the middle of January so that the pipes stay thawed enough for us to get water in this Godforsaken backwoods place my parents have dragged me out to?
Of course, now, I’ve lived in remote places like Alaska where I had to haul my water for myself and five other people plus 40 sled dogs from a spring two miles away. The lightbulb seems a little silly to be upset about now.
Because I was 12 or 13 and fairly flexible, and mostly cheerful by nature, it didn’t take me long to start exploring the woods around my house. Which led, of course, to the inevitable climbing and scrabbling, and getting lost, and learning how to find my way through the woods. I loved every minute of it and realized that I had been a suburban explorer up until then. I always loved the creeks and the rocks and the difficult places.
Somehow, Vermont always calls me back. So here we are now, with the experience of other wild places behind us, and the joy of sharing them with new people ready to explore!
No matter where we have traveled – whether in a school bus down the West Coast of Canada and the United States, through the Canadian Rockies and the Yukon Territory, through the Fraser Valley of British Columbia and down to the Redwoods of California OR on a Big Island called Hawaii, where we lived on an off grid farm on a literally erupting volcano called Kilauea – I have always looked to find the hidden places and the unusual trails. And Vermont has remained a constant in my heart.
Please join us for a fun day through the Vermont woods – either by foot or by water. We can snowshoe, hike, cross country ski, canoe, kayak, camp and fish with you to make your stay in our lovely state both experience and an adventure!