Meet Ashleigh Sherman
Hiking queen, pro copy writer, non-profit enthusiast
What clients can we find you working with at Darby?
I'm lucky to have my hand in many awesome accounts: Aventura, Ecōths, Tailwind Nutrition, Feetures, Diamond Brand Gear, and our Stand Up Initiative.
Beverage of choice?
Am I boring if I say water? (answer: yes)
Favorite part of the job?
I'm particularly excited about leading our Stand Up Initiative. I have an academic background in journalism, political science and environmental affairs; I love that I get to combine all three through our work with MountainTrue, Friends of Big Ivy, and Asheville GreenWorks!
Where can we find you while not in the office?
Searching for the best hiking spots, attempting to become a trail runner, or scoping out the local farmers' markets.
Favorite piece of gear?
My LEKI trekking poles got me through nearly 2,000 miles (and endured quite a few unceremonious tosses down the boulders on Maine).
Must follow on Instagram?
Andrew Sherry, who, in 2018 alone, has sectioned the Appalachian Trail and Continental Divide Trail and completed the Arizona Trail and Zion Traverse...and it's only July.
Podcast or music while on the road?
Podcast! I'm currently listening to Backpacker Radio, Mighty Blue, and The West Wing Weekly (because I'm such a West Wing nerd that I even enjoy listening to other people talk about it).
Favorite spot in WNC?
Still figuring that out...but I love hopping on the Blue Ridge Parkway and seeing where it takes me.
Burrito or taco?
Either, as long as it has guac.
What’s your next splurge purchase?
A car! My 1999 Honda CRV has seen its final days.
What are you jamming to on the headphones while in the office?
T Swift, Tori Kelly, and Pentatonix.
Who on the Darby team would you trust to survive in the woods?
Got to be our office guard dog, Pooky.
"Last year, my brother and I tackled the (almost) 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail. We started in West Virginia and hiked north to Maine, before getting a ride back to West Virginia and hiking south to Georgia. From Springer to Katahdin, here are my six favorite spots (and a few of my favorite hacks)."
100 Mile Wilderness
Ahh, the 100 Mile Wilderness, home to some of my worst luck on the trail. Our six days in the A.T.'s longest stretch of wilderness featured an unintended dip during a stream crossing, an unfortunate encounter with a bee's nest and a shoe held together by duct tape. Fortunately, it is also home to some of the trail's most beautiful views and one of its most unusual hostels, which keeps it in my top six. The completely off-the-grid Whitehouse Landing features homemade whoopie pies and all-you-can-eat blueberry pancakes (a hiker's dream!). Oh, and you get there via motorboat.
There's a reason National Geographic named Mount Lafayette one of the world's ten best hikes. The White Mountain's Franconia Ridge--which includes Mount Lafayette--features 360° views of New England's finest scenery. Bonus: The nearby Notch Hostel offers shuttles to the trail, provides a make-your-own waffle breakfast and, if you're lucky, may take you on an ice cream run!
Shenandoah National Park
After Maine's steep climbs and rocky terrain, Shenandoah's gradual slopes and practically rock-free terrain feel like a casual stroll through the park. It doesn't hurt that the famed national park is home to numerous waysides and restaurants, many black bear sightings and, best of all, the world's best blackberry ice cream (well worth the 1,200 miles it took to get there).
After months in the Green Tunnel, Grayson Highlands' grassy fields offer a welcome change of scenery. Home to more than 100 wild ponies, the rolling highlands provide entertainment in the form of whinnies and neighs. Just south of Grayson Highlands is Damascus, Virginia: Trail Town, USA and home to the legendary Trail Days.
One of the first spots I returned to since moving to Asheville (the climb up the 6,286-foot mountain was a lot easier without 30+ lbs. on my back). Surrounded by a forest of coniferous trees and a bed of pine needles, the Roan High Knob shelter is the highest on the A.T. Fueling us through the day was the best breakfast to be found along the trail, courtesy of the Mountain Harbor Hostel.
Even our first snow of the trip couldn't dampen the magic of Max Patch. With its 360° views and fall colors, it was the perfect place to spend Halloween. Just south of Max Patch is Great Smoky Mountain National Park. At 6,642 feet, the Smokies' Clingman's Dome is the tallest point on the A.T. (followed closely by Mount Washington at 6,288 feet).
Top Three A.T. Hacks
1. Cut down on dishes by cooking oatmeal directly in the pouch – I promise you won't get burnt
2. Ramen + mashed potatoes + tuna = a backpacker delicacy known as the "Ramen Bomb"
3. Breakfast Essentials + brownie mix + instant coffee + oats + water = a surprisingly good (and unsurprisingly unhealthy) breakfast drink