Interview With Maddy Eshholtz

Today’s post is a little different from what we usually do on here and I’m so excited for you to read it! I met my Maddy on Halloween night our Senior year of college. My friend had invited me out to a pregame at this girls house before we all went out to the bars downtown. When I showed up, there were six people in the room- total.

Decked out as a mermaid in metallic blue scale printed leggings and my seashell bra I felt more than a little awkward as an Alladin, Hue Heightener, and Mini Mouse turned their heads to see who was there. The night turned out fine and Maddy and I chatted, though I couldn’t tell you about what.

Fast forward two years, Maddy and I have created a friendship that’s spanned a lot. We’re not the same girls who look forward to the weekends so that we can go out and come home with my slice of Cheesy Pesto and her Hawiian from the pizza place on the corner that everyone goes when the bars shut down at 2 am. We still love a good slice, but these days you’re more likely to find us out in the wilderness on a Saturday night. Camped out by a fire- maybe something a little stronger than hot coco in hand ;). We didn’t get to this place together, rather we ran similar timelines along parallel tracks. Glancing over at one another and cheering from afar.

When I first started to think about Hiker Thoughts I knew I wanted to have her on the blog for a couple of reasons:

For starters, neither of us set out to be adventurers; rather we fell into a lot for it parallel to each other. While we’re on pretty different tracks at the moment we’re constantly bouncing different ideas off of one another about future treks and current gear options!

Without further ado, here’s an interview with this badass babe, a NOLS Alum, fellow UVM graduate, and writer extraordinaire!


Q: Hi, can you tell us who you are and a little about yourself?

A: My name is Maddy and I’m from the wonderful state of Vermont. I graduated this past May with a B.S. in Public Communication with an English minor. I’ve spent the past year traveling and seeking new adventures.


Q: So what got you into hiking and adventuring?

A: I grew up in a family where the outdoors were an important part of bonding and staying active. When I got to college, my life kind of veered away from the outdoors because I was so busy keeping up with schoolwork and my job. The past year of my life has been spent reconnecting with the outdoors and finding out who I am in the space that I’ve created for myself in outdoor education.


Q: NOLS was something you did a couple of months ago, can you speak to the part of it that really felt life-changing for you and why?

A: Signing up for my NOLS course and following through with it was the biggest thing that I’ve done for my professional self. A huge part of that is purely the fact that I followed through with it and didn’t give up on myself even though some of those days were the hardest ones of my life. My NOLS course showed me that there can be a place for anyone in the outdoors, and it shows you how much grit you truly have.

Q: You wrote an article about your experience with NOLS, where can everyone find that?

A: You can read about it here!


Q: Can you talk about an “Ah Ha” moment you had where everything sort of clicked for you?

A: For me, this moment happened last year after my NOLS course when I realized that you can go anywhere you want whenever you want. I got back to Vermont from my course in Wyoming and less than 24 hours after my plane landed I got in my car and started driving. I didn’t stop until I was in Virginia and then couch surfed my way to Florida.

Realizing that you can go anywhere was huge for me, and [was] the moment that led to my move from Vermont to California.


Q: I know you’re just starting a job out in California centered around outdoor education and stewardship, can you tell me a little about how you got there?

A: I was looking for a change after graduation, and I found my job at Pali Institute on CoolWorks. I knew I wanted to be working in the outdoors, and I would love to be able to have an impact on kids like my teachers had on me when I was growing up.

I found the job posting and within a week I had an interview and got a job offer. I had a month to pack up my life and move across the country to Running Springs, CA. I took the opportunity to take a road trip across the U.S. and see some national parks I had never seen before.


Q: Piece of gear that you can’t live without?

A: I can’t live without my Montbell puffy pants. I get cold so easily and these pants are like a sleeping bag for your legs around camp or while hiking.

Q: What’s your favorite trail snack/food?

A: buffalo wing pretzels

rock climbing snacks

Q: Best piece of advice you have for anyone getting into hiking?

A: Start small if you’re worried about it. Any progress is still progress. You’re not going to master it the first time you do it, so don’t give up if you’re not where you want to be immediately.

Q: What does the future hold for you?

A: A lot of backpacking and happiness. Past that I have no idea where I’ll be next year or five years from now.

Q: What’s one piece of advice you wish you would have received or one piece of advice you want to share with others?

A: I wish I had known that it’s okay to fall down as long as you get back up. I’d always heard that cheesy saying, but it really is so true. Always get back up.


Hopefully this interview has provided you all with some insight on another adventure driven individual! I’m thinking about starting a mini interview series on the blog centering around individuals who work outdoor fields or have just done some cool things out in the world. What do you guys think?

If working for the Pali institue or outdoor education sounds like something you’d like to learn more about you can find more information here!

You can follow along with Maddy on instgram: @maddyeschholz

Question: What was your “ah ha” moment with nature?

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