Michelle's Love For Hiking National Parks Pushed Her Out Of Her Comfort Zone & Helped Her Become A Stronger Version Of Herself
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GAFFL
25th May | 7 min read

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    At GAFFL, we love to publish inspiring travel stories from adventurers around the world. You can connect with adventurers from 170+ countries on GAFFL, meet up, and explore destinations together. In this article, we're featuring Michelle aka The Wandering Queen.

    Living in Seattle, Michelle has been hiking, backpacking, and camping for almost 9 years. She enjoys hiking every weekend and has explored 23 of the country's 59 national parks.

    But Michelle didn’t grow up hiking, camping, backpacking, or traveling. She went hiking and camping for the first time when she was 24 years old, and she made a lot of blunders. She didn't have anyone to teach her how to do outdoor travel, so she had to figure it out on her own through practice and patience. 

    Michelle now enjoys educating women on how to hike, camp, and backpack so that they do not have to learn the hard way. If you’re an aspiring outdoor enthusiast, you can check out her blog The Wandering Queen to learn more about the outdoors.

    Make sure to follow her on Instagram to stay up to date on her newest adventures! You can also connect with Michelle on GAFFL.

    Michelle aka The Wandering Queen

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    What Sparked My Interest To The Outdoors

    I started rock climbing in college and fell in love with the outdoors. I loved going camping and hiking around Texas while rock climbing. I never had a chance to explore outside when I was young, so this was a new and fantastic experience for me.

    Michelle aka The Wandering Queen

    Rock climbing was a little too intense for me. I was afraid of heights, so I eventually decided that was not the route for me.

    So I began exploring national parks, and I became obsessed. I never knew beautiful places like this existed, and I knew I had to keep on exploring more. I love the challenge behind it. I loved that I had to push myself to finish these hikes and get out of my comfort zone. I felt like I was growing into a stronger, better version of myself.

    I try to go hiking at least once a week here in Washington State, but I try to visit a different state at least once every two months. I usually like long weekend trips, especially in the United States. On trips outside of the USA, I try to stay for about a week.

    How I Decide Where To Travel Next

    I usually look for places with epic mountain or canyon views. I love outdoorsy locations, and I also like going to places with many hiking options. I usually get inspiration from Instagram.

    Michelle aka The Wandering Queen

    Once I decide, I go on Pinterest and Google and research everything to do in the area. I only read from other fellow bloggers as I feel like they write a lot better articles when compared to huge travel companies. I then create an itinerary on Google Maps. You can add different layers to the map and pinpoint each location with different colors. It helps me visualize what I will do each day and what activities are close to each other. Then I booked my trip after that!

    How I Pack For My Trips

    When I travel on an airplane, I usually try to pack as light as possible. I hate checking in my bag, so I always try to fit everything into a small carry-on bag. Because of that, I must have a comfortable backpack to carry my camera and equipment since I have limited space. I also love watching movies on planes, so I take noise-canceling headphones.

    My Most Amazing Adventures & Bucket-List 

    One of my favorite adventures I have ever been on was backpacking the W Trek in Torres Del Paine National Park in Chile. The trek was so long and brutal, and it took so many days to complete, but I am happy I did it! The hike was filled with some of the most insane mountains I have ever seen and glaciers, bright blue lakes, wildlife, and more. It was an insane adventure. Just getting to the national park took us three days! It is so remote.

    Michelle aka The Wandering Queen

    An adventure that has been on my bucket list for a while is hiking the Dolomites in Italy. I was supposed to go in 2019, but we moved to Washington that year, so we had to push the trip back another year. Then you know what happened in 2020, so we had to push it back even more. I am hoping we can finally go in September 2022. I haven't bought tickets because I am hesitant, but I feel it will finally happen this year.

    Memorable Experiences Of Meeting New People

    I usually hike in a group, but I go on my own if I can't find someone to go with. One time I hiked by myself at Colchuck Lake, one of the most popular trails in Washington State, and it was such a magical experience. I met so many people along the trail and learned their stories. There was a lady that hiked with her two-year-old on her back. This trail is very difficult. I was having a hard time, and I am an experienced hiker.

    Michelle aka The Wandering Queen

    When I saw her again at the top, she was crying tears of joy at how proud she was to have finally seen the lake with her daughter. I took a picture of her and talked to her. It was such a fantastic experience, and I know I would not have met these wonderful people had I been with someone else.

    My Favorite Outdoor Memory

    One of the first times I ever went backpacking was at Lake Garibaldi in British Columbia, Canada. It is one of the most challenging backpacking trips I have ever done. This trail was difficult, and I should not have picked this as my first backpacking trip.

    My backpack was so heavy, and it did not fit me correctly, so I had back problems for a few weeks after this trip. The filter for our water broke, and on the first day, it was raining non-stop. But luckily, the second day was sunny, and then my now-husband asked me to marry him at the top of Panorama Point. It is probably one of my favorite outdoor memories.

    Safety Measures I Take Before Embarking In An Adventure

    I make sure I have the ten essentials on me, which are Map/compass, Sun Protection, First Aid Kit, Fire Starter, Hiking Tools, Extra Water, Emergency Shelter, Headlamp, and Extra Clothes.

    I always let someone know where I am going and how long it will take me to complete the trail. I also use a small satellite called the Garmin In Reach Mini to text my family and friends when I have no service, and I can also send them my location, which is super helpful. Having all this equipment on me helps me feel confident to go outdoors.

    Michelle aka The Wandering Queen

    Major Challenges I Have Faced & Travel Plans For The Next Five Years

    One of the significant challenges I still struggle with is a schedule. I tend to overdo it when it comes to traveling and hiking, which then leads to exhaustion. Don't get me wrong, I am so thankful for everything I have been able to see in this life, but sometimes I tend to overdo it because I feel like travel will go away for me.

    Michelle aka The Wandering Queen

    For the next five years, I still want to travel all over the USA. The USA is my favorite destination. All the national parks here are on another level, and I am so thankful I am near them. I will, of course, plan one or two international trips a year.

    How Do I Think GAFFL Benefits Solo Travelers

    There are so many times that I don't travel because I don't have anyone to travel with. I grew up in Texas, where not many people travel to outdoorsy locations for fun, so it is nice to know there is an app to help people like me find like-minded individuals.

    My Advice To First Time Hikers

    Always carry the ten essentials. Try not to wear cotton because that soaks up sweat, which can lead to hypothermia. It is best to wear sweat-wicking, breathable material.

    Michelle aka The Wandering Queen

    Things I Wish I'd Have Known Before Beginning My Journey

    Something that stopped me from traveling, in the beginning, was money, but I gladly got over the hump and found ways to travel more frugally; I learned how to use credit card points, and I camped out a lot to save money. In the end, I think about all these unique and fun memories I created, and it was all worth it.

    Michelle aka The Wandering Queen

    Other uplifting stories worth checking out! 

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