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Audrey Payne - Long-distance backpacker, writer, and nature nerd. Overcame a debilitating back injury to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail and recently published a memoir about it!

Renata Chlumska  - Adventure athlete who became the first Swedish and Czech woman to climb Mount Everest and in 2005 did a circumnavigate of the lower 48 States of the United States by her own power.

In this episode, we sit down with Audrey Payne, a long-distance backpacker, acclaimed writer, and nature enthusiast who calls Boulder, Colorado, her home. Audrey's incredible journey from overcoming a debilitating back injury to thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail (AT) forms the heart of our conversation. Raised in Upstate New York and inspired by her transformative experiences abroad in New Zealand and Madagascar, Audrey has always had a deep love for the outdoors. Her passion led her to pursue environmental science and journalism, but the pressures of her studies and early career eventually led to burnout and a severe back injury. Undeterred, she found inspiration in Bill Bryson’s "A Walk in the Woods" and set her sights on the AT, a journey she chronicles in her newly published memoir.

Throughout our chat, Audrey shares the highs and lows of her trail life, from the supportive community she found to the physical and mental challenges she faced. We explore her trail name ‘Glowstick,’ her trail family dynamics, and the lessons learned from her trek. Audrey also opens up about the post-trail depression she experienced and how writing her memoir helped her process the journey. As she plans future hikes, including the possibility of tackling the Pacific Crest Trail, Audrey’s story is a powerful reminder of resilience and the joy of embracing life’s adventures. Tune in to hear her inspiring story and gain insights into the life of a dedicated thru-hiker and nature lover.


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Show notes

  • Who is Audrey 

  • Being a hiking and backpacking enthusiast 

  • Living in Boulder Colorado, USA

  • Growing up in Upstate New York

  • Her early years and her passion for the outdoors

  • Spending a summer abroad in New Zealand at 16 

  • How it changed her life

  • Spending time in Madagascar for a semester abroad during college

  • Staying environmental science and journalist with a minor in anthropology 

  • Dealing with burnout and how it happened. 

  • Moving to Washing DC to study for a Masters Degree in Public Relations. 

  • Working for an entertainment communications firm 

  • Dealing with a back injury while having to work all the time

  • Starting to think about the Appalachian Trail (AT)

  • Getting inspired by Bill Bryson and his book; Walk in the Woods

  • Making the decision to start taking the first steps towards achieving her goal of walking the AT

  • Getting to the start line 

  • Landing her dream job at World Wildlife Fund

  • Connecting with an old friend from college who also wanted to hike the trail

  • Having a good boss

  • 1 month before the start!

  • On the start line of the Appalachian Trail in 2018

  • Loving every moment and feeling so happy and grateful

  • Getting her trail name, ‘Glowstick’

  • Day to day life on the trail and being part of a trail family

  • Food and nutrition on the trail and eating on a budget

  • Craving and what it’s telling your body

  • The ice cream challenge…

  • Key lessons learned from taking on this challenge

  • Dealing with conflict on the trail and the break up of the trail family

  • Being anemic 

  • Wear and tear on your body on a thru-hike

  • Writing her book 5 years after the hike

  • Post Trail Depression/Post Trail Blues 

  • Getting the urge to write and writing non stop

  • Hiking on a regular basis and making it apart of her life

  • Future hiking dreams and planning to hike the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) in the future 

  • Hiking the John Muir Trail and why the PCT might be the wrong trail for her

  • Taking the time to figure out which trail to walk in the future

  • How you can connect with Audrey and follow along with her future journeys 

  • Why you should keep an open mind 

  • Grab the opportunities when they arrive


Social Media

Instagram: @audipayne 

Facebook: @audipayne 


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