don't dream your life, live your dreams

As most of you know Wilderness Adventures was founded, by Paralee Dawson Hayward,  in the hopes of reaching as many children in the Tri-State area and preparing them for all levels of outdoor activities in the great outdoors. Paralee in association with The Learning Center had the pleasure of working with a group of 11 to 13 year olds for the first semester of this school year. Paralee has ten years of experience long-distance backpacking and has written two books that share valuable resources to assist in the preparation stages of a backpacking trip and some humerous stories of her adventures along the Appalachian Trail. Check it out at

All classes where held in the Outdoor Center at the school and consisted of multiple levels of training from Leave No Trace, orienteering, survival skills which included use of only the natural materials found in the woods, safety and first aide, becoming comfortable with their environment in the woods and leading up to an overnight campout.

They were challenged at all levels during the campout since the weather did not cooperate. It was calling for a 60% chance of rain so I offered a rain date but the children would not hear of it so we continued on with the planning. We did not get rain but the temperatures dropped to the low 20’s that night. One of the girls in the group, that participated in the campout, was afraid of getting dirty in the beginning days of the class, but advanced to loving the challenges of camping.

When asked what their favorite parts of the class were they offered the following;

learning how to make survival bracelets
orienteering and learning how to use a compass
becoming one with nature and eliminating the fears of being in the woods

If you have children or know someone that does and would like to have them experience the great outdoor, contact us at or visit us at


Appalachian Mountains

Be careful what you water your dreams with. Water them with worry and fear and you will produce weeds that choke the life from your dream. Water them with optimism and solutions and you will cultivate success. Always be on the lookout for ways to turn a problem into an opportunity for success. Always be on the lookout for ways to nurture your dream. by Lao Tzu

For many years I was fearful to step out on my own. I wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail but could not find the inner strength to make such a big leap of faith.I was so inspired by a story about Emma Caldwell Gatewood,  better known along the Appalachian Trail as Grandma Gatewood. She was the kind of personality about whom legends grow. She was the inspiration I needed to follow my dreams in the attempt to hike the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. I knew at that point I was about to embrace my dreams and began planning my big hike.

The following story is an excerpt from my book, Still Living a Dream and provided to me by Rodale Press Inc.

 “Emma Caldwell Gatewood, better know along the Appalachian Trail as Grandma Gatewood, was the first women to hike the entire Trail in one continuous trip.
She climbed Katahdin for the first time in July 1954. At the time, she was in her late sixties, and had borne eleven children. when she reached the summit, she put on a black wool sweater from her pack in which she carried her belongings and ate a lunch of raisins while she counted the lakes and ponds below. When she reached one hundred, she gave up counting, even though other ponds could be seen on the horizon
She was the first woman to walk the entire Trail in one continuous trip, and all alone, straight through from one end to the other. In 1956, at the age of sixty-seven, and 145 days later, she climbed Katahdin for the second time. For her hike she had fashioned a backpack out of denim material. Grandma Gatewood’s pack seldom weighed more than twenty pounds.
Seventeen months later, Grandma was back on the Trail in Georgia. In September of 1957, she completed her second hike along the Trail. She went through six pairs of Keds on this trip. She set another record and was the first person, man or woman, to hike the entire Trail two times. She said, “I wanted to see some of the things I missed the first time.
In 1958, the year after her second completion of the Appalachian Trail, Grandma began a series of walks along the Trail. In 1964, at the age of seventy-seven, she finished what she had begun ten years earlier. She continued on to walk the Knife Edge Trail from the summit of Katahdin.
Grandma Gatewood also tested her agility on other footpaths. There was the Long Trail in Vermont, parts of the Horseshoe and Baker Trails in Pennsylvania, the Cheaspeake and Ohio Canal Towpath in Maryland, and others. She also walked the Oregon Trail in 1959 at the age of seventy-two as part of the hundreth anniversary of the Oregan Trail.
Grandma Gatewood passed away on June 5, 1973. She was eighty-five years of age and had lived a very full life”

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Put your fears aside and follow your dreams!
Always remember that you have the power within you, to challenge life…with your heart, hand, and mind you have the power to mold each golden moment, into infinite possibilities.



Well here we go again—the beginning of the longest, most challenging summer of my life. The odds were against me from day one. Well, don’t let me get ahead of my story.

I planned a summer of hiking along the Appalachian Trail with my grandson, Tyler with the hopes of finishing my remaining miles of the Trail.

Ed and I left Murphy, North Carolina the beginning of June, 2009  for Trail days in Damascus, Virginia. I wanted to be a part of the hiker camaraderie and I also wanted to see if I could sell my book Living a Dream.  My book sales were very good and Ed and I enjoyed our final days together until October. He was heading for Maine and I was going back on the Trail with my grandson, Tyler Towns.

From Damascus I drove to my daughter’s house in Jacksonville, North Carolina to rest up before I started hiking and to finish getting Tyler’s gear together. When the day finally came to leave there were lots of hugs, kisses, and tears as we packed up to go. We drove to Maryland on our way to Kent, Connecticut where I would park my car for the first week of our hike.
We arrived in Kent at 3:00 p.m. and had two hours to wait for our shuttle to Bear Mountain Bridge, New York. Greg Ridge Runner Peters is an avid hiker and goes out each year to hike another section of the Appalachian Trail. He is retired from the Connecticut Dept of Corrections and was a Master Sergeant in the US Army. He will shuttle hikers in most of NY, CT, and MA. His email is and his phone number is 860-307-7121.

It took us over an hour to reach the hotel. As I was emptying the car I realized I had left my hiking boots in my car back in Kent. All I had with me was the Crocs I was wearing. Driving back to Kent was out of the questions. Greg sensed my concern and offered me a pair of boots he had in the trunk. They were Merrill, size 9 and fit me well. I did not have much cash on me so Greg suggested I just send him a check when I got home at the end of summer.

As if forgetting my boots wasn’t enough, I faced another dilemma after dinner when I found out that my debit card would not go through. When I am hiking I don’t carry much cash and I knew I had plenty of funds in the account. I tried calling the bank but it was after hours. I had enough to pay for dinner but that only left me with $40.00 in cash. I usually carry a credit card but chose not to this trip. I later found out that my bank had blocked my account because of the large purchase at REI on the way to Maryland.

We got a shuttle from the hotel to Bear Mountain Bridge the next morning where we would take our first steps on the Appalachian Trail.  It was a joy to be outside and on the Trail again. I had struggled with winter counting the days until I could take my first steps along the Appalachian Trail again.
As we approached the bridge I sensed the lack of enthusiasm I normally have at being on the Trail. I had a feeling of worry hanging over me. I usually am so carefree on my hikes and tend to leave my worries at home. I though maybe it was the added responsibility of having a fifteen year old with me. It was so much fun crossing the bridge.

We stopped at the Graymoor Spiritual Life Center for the night. I always wanted to see the Monastery so we only completed 6.4 miles today.
Graymoor is the home of the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement and birth place of the Christian Unity Movement in America. Thru-hikers have been welcomed here for decades. In past years, hikers stayed in the rectory building and were treated to sumptuous meals with the staff, but those options are no longer available. Hikers now use the campsite shelter at the ball field, with water, cold shower, and covered picnic pavilion free of charge.

Watch for the continuing adventures of Tyler and Trapperlee

Living A Dream


Living a Dream is a never-ending story about my adventures along the Appalachian Trail. I felt that a book should be a reflection of the author so I decided to take control of all the editorial, designing, and distribution elements and took on the challenges of self-publishing and writing my own book.

Self Publisher

Living a Dream chronicles my hike as I put one foot in front of the other, day-after-day. You can share the mental and physical challenges I experienced as I would hike continually, without any contact with civilization, for days or months at a time. I always tried to look at my hike as a walk in the woods-the miles just happened.

Throughout the book you will find interesting backgrou d information  about the origin of the Appalachian Trail, history about various sections of the Trail, and resources for being a successful hiker or backpacker as you plan your own hike. Click here to order Living a Dream.