Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

Backpacker Radio

Dec 22, 2020

In today's episode of Backpacker Radio, presented by The Trek, we are joined by Cindy Ross.  Cindy is a bonafide renaissance woman.  She's published nine books, with two more on the way, she's a triple crowner, illustrator, and avid traveler. But, the bulk of our conversation today centers around Cindy's novel approach to raising children.  In a nutshell, Cindy and her husband believe that kids should fold into your lifestyle, and not the other way around, as evidenced by their family of four taking on the CDT in section hikes beginning when their kids were just toddlers.  Cindy schools us on experiential education, the trick to successful homeschooling, and why you shouldn't let kids get in the way of your adventurous pursuits.  Whether you have kids, are planning on it in the future, or not, I am confident you will enjoy our conversation.

We also do the triple crown of sauces, unveil 2020's naughty and nice lists, and hop in our time machines and prevent the development of two movies. 

Zpacks discount code: Use code: BPRPLEX for $25 off any plex tent at

Gossamer Gear discount code: Use code "POOPSTORY" to save 15% off your cart at

Backpacker Radio Book Bundle 

Thru-Hiking Coaching with Zach and Chaunce

How to Save Money for a Thru-Hike by Kelly Floro discount code: Use code: IPOOPED for 15% off.

True Thru-Hiker Shirt & Mug


Interview with Cindy Ross


00:03:36 - QOTD: What is the best book you’ve read in 2020? 

00:09:52 - Cindy Ross, will you tell us about your background? 

00:13:58 - So you were a trail angel to your husband? 

00:14:21 - How did you keep in touch with your husband? Did you have an initial romantic interest?

00:16:43 - Do you think getting the same injury is a symbol of romance? 

00:17:13 - What years did you hike the AT? 

00:17:25 - What did the AT look like in the ’70s compared to now? 

00:17:54 - How many people were you seeing on the AT?

00:18:06 - Was the trail as maintained as it is now? 

00:18:33 - You did the AT in two halves? Where did you start each time?

00:18:56 - What was the typical demographic on the AT at the time? 

00:19:16 - What was the hostel culture like? 

00:19:43 - What were resupplies like? 

00:20:23 - So you hiked the AT with a friend?

00:21:03 - Were there trail logs when you hiked the AT?

00:21:14 - Do you still have your gear? 

00:22:05 - Your book is also a sketchbook right? 

00:22:17 - What does your process look like? 

00:22:37 - Did you make your own shelter? 

00:22:44 - How did you know what to make? 

00:23:44 - Did anyone want to buy the gear you made? 

00:24:17 - What inspired you to continue the AT in ‘89?

00:24:44 - Did you end up liking the second leg more?

00:25:42 - Is there anything else you want to say about the AT? What differences do you notice between the AT in the late ’70s and today? 

00:27:10 - Do you think the ATC should institute a permit system? 

00:28:34 - When was your PCT hike?

00:28:38 - What was the PCT like in ‘82 and ‘84? 

00:28:58 - Who was “we” on the PCT? 

00:29:50 - Did you find people in the desert section of the PCT? 

00:30:15 - Was the trail well marked at the time? Did you get lost? 

00:30:58 - Through the desert, what were your longest water carries? 

00:31:34 - Did you know what you were signing up for when you started the PCT? 

00:31:54 - Did you dislike snow travel before the PCT?

00:33:29 - Were you carrying any devices to help you?

00:33:43 - Did you have anything like an InReach? 

00:34:00 - What was it like to hitch in the ’80s? Did people know what you were talking about when you said you were hiking the PCT?

00:34:54 - What did you tell people when you are hitching? 

00:36:37 - How much do llamas cost? 

00:37:41 - What are the advantages of llamas over horses? 

00:38:21 - What’s the maximum weight you can put on a llama? Specifically in terms of a kid?

00:39:14 - Did you know anything about llamas previously?

00:40:12 - Did you just borrow the llamas for the duration of the trail?

00:40:50 - How do you maintain a llama?

00:41:38 - How long do llamas usually live?

00:41:49 - Do you have any llama facts? 

00:42:43 - Do you grow attached to llamas like you would a dog? 

00:44:20 - When the llamas are walking do they have reins? How does that work? 

00:45:40 - Do you just tie the llamas to a tree when they get to camp?

00:45:53 - Were there any first aid considerations for llamas? 

00:46:43 - Did you ever have to worry about mountain lions? 

00:48:37 - Do you still have llamas today?

00:48:52 - Are llamas lonely if they only have one?

00:49:12 - Can your goats carry gear? 

00:49:30 - So the goats are just for companionship?

00:49:42 - How far can goats go?

00:50:10 - Can you tell us about the logistics of hiking with kids? How old were your kids on the CDT?

00:50:56 - Are there kid seats for the llamas?

00:51:29 - Did you have any hesitations about bringing your kids? 

00:52:00 - Was sleeping with young kids an issue on the trail?

00:55:00 - How would the kids describe their experience? 

00:55:37 - Can you offer a synopsis of what your kids wrote? 

00:57:07 - Do your kids have tons of pets now? 

01:01:37 - Was teaching your kids on the CDT in place of “actual” schooling?

01:02:55 - Was the Camino a cycling trip? 

01:03:08 - Why are your kids so bright?

01:04:20 - How do you decide what is important to learn and what’s not? How do you decide what to focus on for homeschooling?

01:06:12 - Did you worry about the kids socially? 

01:08:59 - Do you think giving kids the ability to choose their schooling made them want to learn more? 

01:09:47 - When Bryce wants to learn about tsunamis, did you also have to learn about tsunamis?

01:10:29 - What is your kid’s relationship with technology today, since they grew up without TV? 

01:11:29 - What is your take on parenting where screens are used so often?

01:15:08 - What advice do you have for other people wanting this lifestyle for their kids? 

01:17:26 - Can you speak to the scientific studies about kids doing better in nature? 

01:20:57 - Is there an audio version of your book?

01:21:16 - Can you define experiential education? 

01:22:33 - Is there any risk of exposing your kid to stress? 

01:24:30 - Are your kids still very outdoorsy?

01:24:50 - How old are your kids now? 

01:25:02 - Was Sierra conceived in the place of her namesake?

01:25:47 - Can you really time the gender of your kid? 

01:26:28 - Can you give us a rundown of your two new books coming out? 

01:27:43 - Can you talk about some of the stories that inspired your book? 

01:29:08 - Is it unanimous that the trail was the healing the veterans were looking for? 

01:30:20 - Is there science to back up the efficacy of long-distance hiking and healing?

01:33:38 - What kind of carpentry skills did you have before building your log cabin? 

01:35:19 - What are the metaphors people can take away from building a marriage while building a log cabin? 

01:38:20 - Where should people go to hear more from you? 



Trek Propaganda 

Triple Crown of Sauces 

2020 Naughty and Nice List

How long is too long to leave up the holiday lights? And when should people take them down? 

Mail Bag

5 Star Reviews


Subscribe to this podcast on iTunes (and please leave us a review)!  Find us on Spotify, Stitcher, and Google Play.

Support us on Patreon to get bonus content.

A super big thank you to our Chuck Norris Award winner(s) from Patreon: Jason Lawrence, Austen McDaniel, Andrew, Christopher Marshburn, S11N, and Sawyer Products

A big thank you to our Cinnamon Connection Champions from Patreon: Cynthia Voth, Brandon Spilker, Emily Brown, Jeffrey Miller, Mitchell, Zoe Jenkins, Dcnerdlet, Jeff LaFranier, Mark Snook, Peter Ellenberg, Thomas Fullmer, Jacob Northrup, Peter Leven

Follow The Trek, ChaunceBadger, and  Trail Correspondents on Instagram.

Follow The Trek and Chaunce on YouTube.