Ashley Manning - A plus-size adventurer who promotes body inclusion, equity and diversity


Ashley is a lover of the outdoors and is passionate about whitewater rafting and hiking.

Ashley has been dreaming about hiking the Appalachian Trail ever since she was a little girl when her and her father would pick up thru-hikers and give them lifts into town. After graduating college in 2018, it was the right time to commit to taking on this challenge. Ashley was sponsored by the Thru Hiking Syndicate which is where she got her gear from. After a false start on the AT, and forgetting her pants! Ashley soon got into the rhythm of daily hiking, gaining a trail name and a trail family, she completed just shy of 1,000 miles before having to leave the trail.

During this episode Ashley shares more about her dream, the challenges she faced getting to the start line, what it was like being plus size on trail, and providing lots of top tips on how to spend more time in the outdoors.

Ashley has made it her mission to help enlighten and encourage folks from every walk of like to enter the world of nature in a safe and fun way.

“Do not let anyone’s words stop you from enjoying what you love” - Ashley Manning.

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Listen to Ashley Now!

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Show notes

  • Who is Ash

  • Coming from a sporty family

  • Getting into the outdoors

  • Being inspired by her Dad and Uncle

  • Pollywog hunting

  • Growing up in a small town in the Appalachian Mountains

  • Chasing frogs and tadpoles

  • Outdoorsy, dirty, romantic lifestyle

  • Raft guiding in the summers

  • Hiking for weight loss

  • Reclaiming the word ‘fat’

  • Appalachian or Appalachian Trail? How to pronounce it….

  • Hiking on the AT

  • Where the dream came from

  • Being inspired by her cousin

  • How the dream fell into place

  • Feelings of shame

  • Dealing with a lot of stress

  • “Nothing will really prepare you for the Appalachian Trail, like doing the Appalachian Trail”

  • Self reflection before the trail

  • Being able to start with a friend

  • Starting on a cold, wet, muddy day!

  • Dealing with the challenges of the AT

  • Being ok with type 2, type 3 and type 4 fun!

  • Dealing with her mental health and emotions while on the trail

  • Keeping going when times got tough

  • The encouragement of other is a huge factor

  • Trail names

  • Being ‘othered’ while on the AT

  • Trail family life

  • An average day hiking on the Appalachian Trail

  • Getting gear together for the hike

  • Being part of the Thru Hike Syndicate (People who are doing big thru hikes in the USA)

  • Being collected from Virginia by her mum

  • Feeling defeated

  • Feeling sad about leaving the trail

  • Tearing her ACL and the recovery process

  • Top tips for you to spend more time in the outdoors

  • How to follow Ash on social media

Social Media

Instagram @ashleysadventure

Unlikely Hikers @unlikelyhikers

You can also listen to Ash on the Unlikely Hikers Podcast - Episode 8

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