July 10, 2019

Ep. 36: Triumph on Trails

FILED IN: Podcast

Today we are so excited to share an incredible story about the bond between mother and son. Michelle is an avid hiker how wants to fill her son’s dream of seeing every national park and monument. Her incredible story speaks enormously of the true bad-ass mom she is. She is so humble and inspirational and we love her positive attitude towards the adversity her family goes through.  We are so honored to share her words with you and can’t wait for you to listen and get inspiration.

Michelle is the mom of two boys, a 12-year-old and a 6-year-old. Blaine, her youngest, has alternating hemiplegia of childhood. “It’s literally one in a million.” He experiences paralysis every once in a while and also has epilepsy.  While Blaine battles these medical conditions, Michelle does everything in her power to make sure he lives a full life. This includes hiking. Michelle wears Blaine on her back so he is able to experience each hike to the fullest. When Blaine had almost passed away, Michelle needed a way to get out of her bed. The 52-week challenge urges people to get out and hike once a week for the whole year.  Michelle and Blaine became obsessed, they did over 100 hikes that year.


Blaine has this huge list of all the places he wants to see.  Day by day, they tackle that list together. So far, they have visited 10 parks and have 2 coming up in a couple of weeks in Texas and New Mexico.  Blaine is a part of the Junior Ranger Program where he can visit parks and receive a badge for each place he visits. They have hiked the Grand Canyon, but have dreams to one day hike the Havasupai Falls.  They love seeing wildlife and she hopes that when they go back to the Grand Canyon that she is able to see a pink Rattlesnake. When asked how she hikes such strenuous hike with a child on her back she says, “I can talk myself into anything if it’s for him.”

She also laughs about the situations she has found herself in while hiking.  Michelle and Blaine don’t need much while hiking. She says they only need the basics; shelter, water, and food.  Sometimes they will check into minimal Airbnb rooms and have accidentally found themselves sleeping in a chicken coop.


Michelle knows that one day she probably won’t be able to carry Blaine anymore, so she has begun to do a ton of research and checking out hikes for their wheelchair accessibility.  She doesn’t want to lose the bond they share over hiking. Her LLC, Triumph on Trails holds around 3 events a year that allows for people with disabilities to enjoy hikes. They are even writing a book on wheel accessible trails and have been traveling a lot checking out trails to make sure they are truly accessible.


When she was doing the Grand Canyon portion of the AZT, she made it a 5-day backpacking trip.  When you are out hiking by yourself, you get to make it about you. “Your brain just starts kicking into overdrive and you start thinking of places you have not been to in years, so you can process so much more.”  

Michelle has her own goals of being a triple crowner, that is, someone who has hiked the CDT, AT, and PCT.  While her every day is clearly a celebration of life, she says she tries to focus on making every day count.  She says if you’re constantly giving yourself to others you need time to also fill yourself up, like a gas tank.

Michelle’s story gives hope and motivation to other parents dealing with similar situations. She hopes she can make people realize they don’t have to live their whole life indoors and that hiking can be for anyone if you find a way to make it work.  With that, we wanted to leave you with one more quote from Michelle.

“You can do almost anything if you are creative enough to try to figure it out.”


Instagram: @triumphontrails

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