By Bryan Stevens
Michelle Adshead is on two missions connected to the Appalachian Trail.
First, she wants to get her first book published. It’s a fictional rhyming book about twins who take on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, a northbound thru-hike on the Appalachian Trail. She describes it as a sweet rhyming book intended for ages 3-7 written to inspire a love of backpacking, nature and the Appalachian Trail in children around the world.
Second, she would like to use the book and her own love for the AT to help foster a deep-seated love of the outdoors and the AT in children.
“I remember sitting at camp while backpacking one night and feeling a fire in my heart; a burning desire to share the trail I love so deeply with my young nephew and the next generation,” said Adshead, who is both the author and illustrator of “Folly and Molly Take on the Appalachian Trail.”
“I knew I had to write this book to do my part to preserve and protect the Appalachian Trail for years to come,” she added.
“I grew up in Pennsylvania about an hour outside of the Appalachian Trail, and I had heard the name early on but didn’t fall in love with it until my first backpacking trip in college,” Adshead said. “We hiked to the Pinnacle and watched a meteor shower. After that, I researched the trail and became obsessed.”
Adshead is now a trail maintainer with the Blue Mountain Eagle Climbing Club. She views her maintenance work as a way to give back to the trail that has already given her so many experiences and memories.
“I value the connection to nature and to people,” she said. “There’s so much history with the AT and endless iconic views. Not only that, I’ve found when someone loves the AT, they really love it. I’ve bonded with people instantly over that connection because it feels like for some of us there’s a pull to the trail we don’t even fully understand. It’s magical!”
The title characters Folly and Molly are foxes. She deliberately chose to write her characters as foxes.
“I wanted to stick with a woodland theme, and I think foxes typically get written as sneaky or mischievous, so I wanted to create lovable fox characters,” Adshead said.
She currently lives in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, about an hour from the AT in New Jersey and two hours from various points in Pennsylvania. “So I am lucky to be able to visit for day hikes or weekend trips,” she said.
Adshead said she would love to visit libraries and schools in towns, such as Erwin, that have strong connections to the AT.
She said she would bring the book, too, and would like to be able to donate copies.
“Introducing kids to the outdoors is in my opinion the best thing you can do for them,” Adshead said. “A connection with nature is so grounding and will help with both mental and physical health throughout their lives.”
She added, “Having kids care about a specific trail means down the road we’ll have volunteers to help maintain it so it can be preserved for future generations.”
She’s funding her book through the social media platform Kickstarter.
“I’ve been very fortunate to be over 100% funded at this point with 12 days left of my 30-day campaign,” she said. “The hiking community has been beyond supportive and so many people have backed this book and shared it with their friends and family.”
Adshead said she has found the hiking community is as excited to see this book in print.
“Some people met their partners on the trail and now have a family they want to share it with or are thru hiking and want to have the book to explain to their kids or nieces and nephews what exactly that means,” she said. “Now that I’m funded my focus is reaching stretch goals to be able to give backers additional rewards and to donate books to schools and libraries.”
“Folly and Molly Take on the Appalachian Trail” is her first book. “I am hoping to have Folly and Molly go on other adventures as well,” she said. “I want to inspire a love of nature and adventures in children everywhere.”
The book is available for pre-order through April 20. The work is offered in a hardback book, 8.5 by 11 inches, or as an ebook. Backers can pre-order a hardback copy for $20.
For more information, visit “Folly and Molly Take on the Appalachian Trail” on Kickstarter, Instagram or visit the publisher at www.adventurestoriesbymichelle.com.