From Refugees to Trailblazers: Anna and Sheldon's Inspiring Journey to Wellness and Outdoor Adventure
Anna & Sheldon
Anna was born in the Ukraine and came to the United States when she was 8 years old as a refugee.
14th Jul | 6 min read

Table of Contents

    Anna was born in the Ukraine and came to the United States when she was 8 years old as a refugee. She is an outdoor, fitness, health, and environment lover who found a way to express her passions through hiking. She enjoys exploring new places, seeking out adventures, and sharing her experiences with friends and family. Anna is also on a mission to help others feel young and healthy. She is a health and wellness coach who specializes in improving digestive health and IBS symptoms. 

    Sheldon came to the US in his early 20s. His passion for the mountains comes from his childhood in Jamaica. He loves the peace and tranquility of nature combined with the physical rigor of hiking. Sheldon is also an avid runner who participated in a few half marathons and an excellent kayaker. Sheldon also enjoys drawing, building, and architecture.

    They manage a travel blog called Hiking And Other Adventures for fellow hikers and outdoor enthusiasts. They enjoy sharing their best hiking and outdoor spots, as well as the strategies, recipes, and superpowers that enable them to hike up mountains, climb rocks, and accomplish other amazing things.

    Anthony Nose

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    Anna and Sheldon: An Adventure-Fueled Duo

    Anna, a Ukrainian native and US refugee, is a passionate advocate for the outdoors, fitness, health, and the environment. Her love for hiking allows her to explore new places, seek out adventures, and share them with loved ones. Anna is also a dedicated health and wellness coach, specializing in digestive health and IBS relief.

    Sheldon, originally from Jamaica and a US transplant, finds his bliss in the mountains, drawing inspiration from nature's tranquility and the physical demands of hiking. He's also a seasoned runner and adept kayaker, with a penchant for drawing, building, and architecture.

    Bald and Artists Bluff_NH

    Finding Love Again: Our Hiking Adventures as Divorcees

    We are two divorcees who met thanks to the matchmaking algorithm of an online dating application in June 2019. We were both nature and fitness geeks and embarked on our first hiking adventure shortly after our lucky stars brought us together.  We keep doing it because it is healthy, fun, and adventurous.  It is wonderful to share new and exciting experiences together as a couple.

    Breakneck Ridge

    How Often We Travel

    We both have children at home and work full-time, so it’s not so easy to get away.  We try to take mini-4-day trips once every quarter and a week-long vacation once a year.  We also squeeze in some short-day trips throughout the year.


    How We Decide On Our Next Destination

    We chose our destination based on numerous factors: how much time we have, how far away the destination is, our interest in the destination, and price. So far, all our trips have been via driving, so we pack the car to capacity with all essentials—anything from hiking gear, cooked and uncooked food, pots and pans, spices, and an inflatable kayak!


    How We Pack For Our Trips

    We pack as much as the car will carry!  If it’s a hiking trip, hiking gear is a must: hiking boots and socks, trekking poles, backpacks, water bladders, flashlights, a portable cell phone battery, bug spray, sunblock, protein bars, peanuts, and dark chocolate bars.

    Extra layers, hats, gloves, hand and toe warmers, and rain jackets are also essential, regardless of the season. The weather in some mountains can be extremely unpredictable.

    Ocean Path Acadia

    Our Remarkable Adventures & Our Bucket List

    We have only been together for four years, so our mutual adventures have been on the East Coast of North America so far.  Among our favorite destinations are Acadia National Park, the Hudson Valley, the Adirondacks, the White Mountains in New Hampshire, Shenandoah National Park, and Montreal.  

    Before meeting Sheldon, Anna had traveled to various European destinations, including Israel, California, and the Caribbean.

    Sheldon has visited Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks as well as the Caribbean.

    We have many places on our bucket list—too many to name! Every new destination is an adventure.  

    If we were to pick the top 5 off the top of our heads, they would include

    1. Yellowstone National Park

    2. Iceland

    3. Morocco 

    4. Portugal

    5. Costa Rica

        Storm King

        Our Favorite Memories Of Meeting New People

        Some of the AirBnBs we stayed at were simply rooms in people’s homes. All were very welcoming and nice. Sometimes, we chit-chat on top of mountains. 

        Sheldon made friends with some interesting people while kayaking. One couple rescues animals from war-torn Ukraine.

        Another couple participates in kayaking competitions on the Hudson River. For the most part, we prefer to vacation as a couple and keep to our own pace and schedule.


        One Of Our Most Exciting Outdoor Experiences

        It’s hard to isolate just one exciting experience. I would say the most unique was our hike to Mt. Washington, infamous for its unpredictable, treacherous weather, holding the world record for the highest measured wind speeds, not due to a tornado or cyclone, of 231 miles per hour at the summit! Unfortunately, we did not make it to the summit but turned back about ½ mile before reaching it due to the terrible weather conditions.

        Despite having proper gear, once we got above the tree line, the hail, cold, and high wind speeds were knocking 6 ft. 2 in., 220-pound Sheldon off his feet! 

        Some facts about our hike:

        1. We encountered only six people that day.

        2. Multiple people called for help and were rescued off the mountain that day.

        3. One man died attempting to summit that same day, but on a different trail that was more exposed to the elements. 

        4. According to a CNN article reporting the death at Mt. Washington on the day of our hike, “The conditions in the high peaks were treacherous: freezing temperatures, rain, sleet, snow, and winds gusting over 80 mph. Only those with experience, training, and adequate gear were utilized for this rescue.”

        An experience like this is a wonderful lesson—don't ever let your ego overpower the rules of safety!

        Gertredus Nose

        Our Inspiration To Start The Blog

        We started our blog, Hike And Other Adventures, once we developed our passion for hiking and realized that a lot of people were asking us for advice on hiking destinations. 

        We decided to share our experiences with our friends, family, and followers. Anna also writes health and wellness posts to fulfill her mission to help people improve their health and feel their best selves. It was also a very fun and stimulating learning experience to build a blog from scratch. 


        Challenges That We Face

        Lack of time is an obstacle to travel. Anna is a full-time single mom of two kids, and Sheldon has his kids half-time.

        Both Anna and Sheldon have full-time corporate jobs. Anna is also building her health and wellness business remotely during evening and weekend hours.

        Making our trips work is an art of coordination. We utilize any chance we have—sleep-away camps, visits from Anna’s ex-husband with kids, and help from grandparents.

        Millbrook Ridge

        How GAFFL Can Help

        Finding a travel buddy makes a trip more fun and cost-effective.  Plus, it is always a chance to make new connections, friends, and partners.

        Two of our other favorite hiking apps and websites are All Trails and TripAdvisor.  We also love to read other blogs for suggestions.

        Advice That We Can Share

        Do your research, dress accordingly, invest in proper hiking gear, always let someone know where you’re going, and hike with a buddy! 

        There are so many first-time hikers that come completely unprepared, with no gear, no flashlights, no water, and no clue as to how long it will take them to get back down from the mountain—that is asking for trouble.


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