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Walking Gone Wild: A Talk with Ashland Author, Dami Roelse

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Dami Roelse is an Ashland resident who is the author of an inviting new book, Walking Gone Wild, How to Lose Your Age On the Trail.  I sat down with the avid hiker at her home, where she poured us cups of Chai and settled into the chair across from me. Her living room is filled with photographs and mementos from world travels and world class hikes “In society,” says Dami, “you feel like you’re being pushed away as you age. But on the trail, you lose your age. There are no mirrors. No judgment. Just hikers, all doing the same thing.” It’s worth noting that Dami is 71 years old.

Possessing an enviable lean and fit form, Dami averages 500 miles on trails each year. And it seems that she has hiked everywhere: the Pacific Northwest, California, Morocco, Germany, Holland, and Iceland, just to name a few. If it has a hiking trail, it calls to her.  “Hiking, has brought me a sense of belonging. I am part of something,” she told me. “I live alone, but the walking lifestyle gives me a sense of connectivity.”

The journey in one regard, is about physical health and vitality.  She eats cleanly from an organic garden, gets enough protein and is in a state of perpetual motion, always thinking about the next hike. But for Dami, the journey is also about mental and spiritual health. “How you do life is a spiritual endeavor,” she tells me. “We are all meant to walk. It’s in our DNA. When you tap into something that original, that’s good for you on so many different levels, it’s not just about adding years to your life. It’s about adding well-being to your life.” You can’t talk to Dami for more than a few minutes without knowing that this is a well-integrated mantra for her—that of living fully and loving well.

Three years ago, Dami was teaching workshops for women over 50 that culminated in backpacking trips. She felt like she was always handing out charts and lists to her students, when it occurred to her that having a handbook that she could give them would be helpful. That was how the Walking Gone Wild book was born. And it wasn’t just that Dami had valuable information to share about walking and hiking, she had personal experiences, journal recollections wrapped in a poetic style, which gives the reader a sense of awe and wonder, and a hankering to get out on the trail right next to her.  

“The book has been a journey about walking your talk,” says Dami. “I’ve built a platform that encourages and hopefully inspires people to get out and walk, regardless of their age.  And then I get to see or hear about how it changes their lives.” It’s as though everything that Dami ever gave to herself through walking, she now gives away to her readers through Walking Gone Wild.  

“We’ve lost our connection to slowness,” Dami tells me. “We’ve lost our ability to tap into those quiet, restful states.  Even if you do a meditation practice, you finish and then go back into your frantic world. But if you adopt walking, you take in what’s going on around you.  You slow down. You encounter life at the pace that we are meant to encounter it.”

As we wrap up the interview, I feel inspired to walk more and drive less; to slow down and smell the roses, as they say.  The book is a fun easy read, packed with instruction as well as inspiration. Walking Gone Wild, How to Lose Your Age on the Trail is by Dami Roelse and published by Fuze Publishing. It’s a book that sure to compel the reader to greater physical, mental and spiritual.  

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