My first hike was at Fort Snelling State Park on Mother’s Day 2013.

Map of Fort Snelling

Map of Fort Snelling


Fort Snelling was my first hike because it was in town and easy to get to. Every mother’s day we go to my sister’s farm in the afternoon so I couldn’t hike more that a couple hours.  The hiking is easy here and actually really pretty. There are planes coming over since the airport is right across the highway but it didn’t bother me. I like seeing them that close it’s kind of exciting. Plus it makes me really happy I am not on a plane going anywhere!  I started off hiking part of Snelling Lake then did the Pike Island loop. The trees were just budding so you could get great views of the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers!  This is an easy hike for anyone there are no hills unless you decide to hike up and actually see the Fort.


What to think about!

I had decided to do 60 hikes for my 60th birthday a few weeks before. I wanted to do something special and since I am broke there was no trip to Paris or an Alaskan Cruise. My friend children’s book author and illustrator Debra Frasier actually gave me the idea to hike 60 trails. She had canoed 50 waterways for her 50th birthday. I don’t have a canoe but I do have legs that can hike!

This first hike helped me kind of get a game plan…for the next 59 hikes. Here’s what happened after I left the park office with my map I started to worry about everything in my life. How was I going to get Barry health insurance? Then I realized why I had become a gym rat this past year. At the gym I can read a book on the bike and give my mind a rest, but when I am hiking, biking or running outside there was no distraction so all I did was worry about the future and living with a husband with dementia. I would come in and feel awful. Exercise is supposed to help you feel relaxed. I realized on these hikes I have to give my mind something to think about other than all my worries. So I picked the word JOY to think about. What gives me JOY? It was Mother’s Day so I thought about my three kids Kelly, Pat and Mike. The day each was born I never experienced such joy. As they have become adults I still feel the JOY of being their mom. My little granddaughter Charlotte was born June 14 2012. I was in the Subway parking lot out of town speaking when my daughter called to tell me Charlotte had been born. I was so filled with JOY and relief!

Love in the lake

Love in the lake

As I hiked around Fort Smelling I realized there are lots of JOYS in my life. I find JOY in my books, the kids I speak to and the teachers I meet when I am at schools. I find JOY teaching my students at The Minneapolis College Of Art And Design. I feel JOY being outside after a long winter. It felt good to push all the worries out at least for the two hours of my hike. So I set the ground rules for hiking and that day. Pick something to think about other than worries! Later that day we were all at my sister’s farm, the weather was beautiful and little Charlotte took her first walk down the farm road. Right then at the moment everything was OK. I realized JOY is a pretty good word to think about during this time in my life!

What gives you JOY each day?


  • Lots of budding trees it was finally spring!
  • Baby ducks and turkeys.
  • I saw a cute german shepard that didn’t have use of his back legs so he used a little cart for his back legs.  I imagined he might be a retired police dog.
  • I saw lots of families enjoying the nice day.
  • For information on Debra Frasier’s 50 waterways go to: www.debrafrasier.com/river-journal
  • For information and directions to Fort Snelling state Park go to: www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/fort_snelling/index.html


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12 comments on “HIKE NUMBER ONE.
  1. Maryann says:

    Nancy: Thank you for your honesty. It’s brave and beautiful. I too walked around with my eyes closed for many years. It’s good to open them and see the truth, as hard as it might be. Blessings on you and your family, as you journey forward–one step at a time.

  2. Carrie says:

    Thank you for sharing your journey with us. Fort Snelling State Park is such a great place. I love how you can go there and almost feel like you aren’t in a city at all.

  3. Karen Allbright Jones says:

    Oh Nancy, how brave and wonderful that you are writing about this journey! Jim and I are quite moved by your courage and by your commitment to write and to walk and to draw. Your motto of “one foot in front of the other” reminds me of hiking out of the Grand Canyon last year. I was having a very hard time, it was difficult to breathe and to move and body parts were swelling and I wanted to give up about 4 miles into the 9 mile hike straight up the Bright Angel Trail. I started praying, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” The Today’s English version of this Philippians 4:13 states, “I have the strength to face all conditions by the power that Christ gives me.” I love that you focus on JOY. What a great lesson for all of us! You are an inspiration. Love you, neighbor!

    • Thank you Karen! I hope all is well! NC

      • Bob Bowes says:

        It takes a lot of courage telling your situation. You are a very special person and I am lucky to have you as a friend.
        Hang in there, I would love to get together for lunch sometime.
        All the best,
        Your fellow Mrs. Blashfield classmate,
        Bob Bowes

  4. Pat Werner says:

    My mother has dementia. She’s at the age when that disease could be expected, so to speak. Reading about your young husband and the struggles you have faced is sobering. You are an inspiration to me at so many levels. Witch Lady has been a favorite of mine since it was published. Your art, your stories and your ability to persevere with grace is exemplary. We share being grandmothers too.

    The next step will bring more understanding and even some joy along the way.

  5. Nancy says:

    The maps are like treasure maps, requiring close scrutiny to find real gems hidden therein. Top that with the inspired gems within each story. Lots to see and think about. Thanks.

  6. Meg Quella says:

    Hey if you’re in Madison and still need to get some hikes in let me know! I’ll go with if you need a hiking buddy!

    • I will take you up on it only if we can hit Culvers after!!
      have an awesome school year Meg!

      • Meg Quella says:

        You got it Nancy, Culvers it is! Thanks, the school year is off to a great start already. Although it feels like I never left…teaching summer school will do that to a person. Luckily I had California to look forward to after summer school ended. Hope all is well with you. Working on some new ideas?

  7. Paulette Christianson says:

    I too have a husband do 68 yrs. that was just diagnosed with FTD and my girlfriend whom I am thinking is our mutual friend directed me to your site. Boy, can I follow your path with some of this that you have brought out to share!!!!
    Another interesting thing is that I am an artist also and have “a” book published with a gal that wrote the story. It was an awesome experience and so fun. Reading some of you blog is being an inspiration for me right now….thank you.

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