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Adventurer: Interview with Sara Gilliam

She is an adventurer. We follow her and Fernando on Instagram, and now want our readers to meet them for our Adventure issue on Mujeres con Visión:

1. Single Mom Adventurer… That handle gets us every time. Although self-explanatory, why use that one?

When I talk about my different trips and activities I have a lot of women say, they wish they could do stuff like that. I chose Single Mom Adventurer to encourage women out there to get out and do what they love. I am a single, divorced mom of two amazing young children, one of which is disabled, and still make time to do the things I love.

2. What do you consider an adventure?

An adventure, to me, is anything that excites me. I love to explore new places and meet new people. That’s one of the best parts about traveling alone regularly. I meet some of the most amazing people.

3. Which adventure has been the most challenging for you?

About 10 years ago I hiked the Grand Canyon, rim to rim. At that time I was about 50 pounds heavier than I am now and did not train well enough. While I completed the hike, I didn’t enjoy it like I could have because I was focused on the pain in my body. It was a tough lesson learned. I always remind myself of that time when training for a new adventure. I prepare so I can truly enjoy the experience.

4. Your most beloved trail is…

Taum Sauk mountain in Missouri. The first time I hiked that trail I felt overcome with emotion. It is a beautiful trail but that isn’t what caused the reaction. I was on that trail when it hit me how proud I was of the woman I had become. Hiking alone in a foreign was something I never thought I would have been strong enough (mentally and physically) to do. I feel that feeling again every time I hike there.

5. …And five trails not to be missed?

  1. Hidden Canyon trail in Zion. It isn’t one of the most popular but I found it to be amazingly beautiful and peaceful. This beautiful green canyon hidden amongst the red rocks of Zion.

  2. Havasupai Falls in the Grand Canyon. It gets a little crowded certain times of the year, but it’s such a unique place. Definitely worth the time and effort.

  3. White Oak Canyon in Shenandoah. So many incredible waterfalls and wildlife! Beautiful!

  4. Sam’s Throne in the Ozark National Forest in Arkansas. It has some amazing views. The ideal spot to watch the sunset.

  5. Kanaraville Falls in Utah. There is a waterfall you get to climb up inside of a slot canyon.

6. Tell us about Fernando.

I adopted Fernando about a year after my divorce. He quickly became my best friend and closest confidant. Fernando gets all of the attention on the trail. We started hiking together when he was about 6 months. Now, at almost 4 years old, he is a seasoned hiker and carries his own backpacking necessities on overnights.

7. How does being by yourself (except for Fernando, of course) in the woods reward you?

It is extremely peaceful. My life is very hectic and stressful at times. Getting into the woods alone calms my mind. It’s also very empowering to know I can accomplish some of these things on my own.

8. We are seeing more women hitting the trails by themselves. Still, too many do not dare. What would you say to those that have not started?

I know it can be intimidating. Start small or with a few friends until you are more comfortable. Always make sure you let someone know where you are going and carry the necessary emergency items in your daypack.

9. How do you find the inspiration to keep going?

My son is a huge source of inspiration. At 11 years old he is still learning to walk and communicate yet he is one of the happiest people I know. I also push through to show my young daughter that women can be strong and independent. I don’t want either of them ever to feel like they can’t do something just because society says they can’t/shouldn’t.

10. Which adventure is in your bucket list?

In the future I’d love to do more hiking outside of the US. There are just too many to list. Later this year I will be meeting up with some friends in the Uinta Mountains in Utah. A new adventure with some new friends. I can’t wait. I’m also working on a side project with a friend creating some instructional videos with myself and Fernando. Putting myself out there in front of the public even more is definitely going to be an adventure.


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