Since their first date hiking Mount Algonquin in the Adirondacks, Rachel and Marshall Rowe have spent the past 40 years trekking some of New England’s—and the world’s—most awe-inspiring trails. And as long-time members of the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC), the couple has experienced the best the organization has to offer. That’s why they launched this summer’s challenge grant: to help ensure that their love of the outdoors—and AMC’s mission—can continue to blossom and reach more people. We sat down with Rachel and Marshall to hear more about their love of the outdoors and why they support AMC.
AMC: WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE WAY TO BE OUTDOORS?
RACHEL AND MARSHALL: Hands down hiking is the thing that we love to do most outdoors. We just celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary, and for 40 years, we’ve been climbing mountains. Our first date was a hike. We’ve had the pleasure to do it all over the world, but New Hampshire and the White Mountains are really our favorite.
The Franconia Ridge Trail is our favorite; we hike it every year together. It’s our favorite in the world, actually. We’ve hiked lots of places, but there’s no place like that. There is just no place like being up on that ridge.
AND THIS LOVE OF THE OUTDOORS HAS BECOME A WHOLE FAMILY AFFAIR, CORRECT?
That’s right! We have two boys who are now in their thirties. When they were ten and twelve, we started hiking the New Hampshire 4,000-footers. It was incredibly meaningful for us and took five years of commitment to complete. For those five summers, we spent almost every weekend on the trail together as a family. After all of that time together, they could have gone in either direction for their own loves of hiking. But they loved it. In fact, when they were applying to college, both wrote their essays on their hiking experiences. They still love to be out on the trail today.
AS AMC MEMBERS, HOW HAS YOUR EXPERIENCE OF THE OUTDOORS EVOLVED?
Hiking has really been our first love and was our primary interaction with AMC for much of our time as members. But about four years ago, there was the chance to go on a paddling excursion with the organization. We liked it so much, we ended up going out and buying our own kayaks. There have also been some chapter biking trips with AMC that biked places around New England that we didn’t know existed. These types of experiences were possible because of all the variety and expertise that AMC brings as an organization. Even as committed to hiking as we are, AMC helped open us up to new experiences and new ways to enjoy and appreciate the outdoors.
WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO CREATE A CHALLENGE GRANT?
We love the recreation opportunities AMC offers. But we want to bring greater awareness to the enormous role AMC plays outside of recreation. There are so many exciting things happening at AMC. For us, two stand out. The organization continues to play a leadership role in conservation and environmental stewardship. For example, AMC recently committed to a net zero pledge, meaning that the organization will reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to net zero no later than 2050. This move sets a bold vision for AMC. It makes it clear that changes are necessary for all of us in addressing climate change and greenhouse gas emissions and committing to those changes requires investment. Our hope is that AMC commitment to this pledge will inspire others.
Second is AMC’s commitment to ensuring that the outdoors is available for everyone. The organization has laid a strong foundation in getting more people outdoors across abilities, genders, ages, and races. We did a hike a few week ago, and we were at least two decades older than almost everyone on that trail. That was really exciting to us! It’s thrilling to see lots of young people out there. We want to help AMC reach them.
WHY IS GIVING TO AMC SO IMPORTANT?
We see lots of people out on the trail. Maybe they are making an annual trip to a favorite spot, like us for the past 40 years. Maybe it’s their first time. But you can see the appreciation for where they are. AMC has long been the steward of these places: maintaining trails and infrastructure and ensuring people have the knowledge and skill to enjoy them.