Thoughtfully contemplating the universe. Or thinking about cake. Probably cake.

I’m Nicole Antoinette, a former indoor kid who spent 30 years living in some of the world’s largest cities, visiting museums and reading books and building pillow forts – basically anything that didn’t involve getting sweaty or being eaten by bugs.

Sleeping outside? Pooping in the woods? Getting dirty? Filtering water? Dealing with bears and blisters? Absolutely not. No way.

But in August 2016, against all odds, I completed a 460-mile solo hike.

Here’s the truth: it was awful.

I cried almost every single day during that hike – the pain, loneliness, and ego beating were unlike anything I had ever experienced. It was just so hard. And I was so, so soft. Soft and new and absolutely terrified.

That hike was excruciating, and the first thing I said to myself when I finished was, “Never again. Never, ever, ever again.”

But here’s the thing about hard things: they change us. As miserable as I was throughout that first long hike, I also felt alive and awake in a way that I have come to crave.

And so “never again” soon became “well, maaaaybe one more time,” and in late September 2017 I will set out to hike the 800-mile Arizona Trail. Is this a good idea? Who knows. I guess we’ll find out!

Along the way, this blog is where I will share honest stories about being a beginner in the wilderness, and about what happens when you decide to choose courage over comfort.

Broken Top’s No Name Lake, Sept 2016

More about me

I want to live in a world where people tell the truth about their lives.

That’s why I created Real Talk Radio, the podcast that’s filled with honest conversations about the wonderful mess of being human. Hosting this show helps to remind me that I am not alone, and that we are all doing the best we can with our beautifully fucked up lives.

In May of 2011 I quit drinking and started the painful/incredible process of waking up to myself and the world, and that one decision – to get sober – is the bedrock on which everything good in my life has since been built.

I live in Bend, Oregon with my husband, Paul, and our two kitties, Jake & Milo. I am (as the wise Holly Whitaker puts it) a sober feminist killjoy. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I hold a Bachelors degree in Food Studies from New York University, and I’m a part-time vegan pastry school student. If you’d like a batch of cinnamon rolls, I’m your girl. As far as I’m concerned there’s no such thing as too many cinnamon rolls.

Along my winding career path I have worked as the manager of a cookie shop, the director of a children’s summer camp, the head of business operations for a boutique web design firm, and as a goal-setting coach for folks who want to close the gap between what they say they want and what they actually do.

It’s been a wild adventure, and throughout it all I’ve been a writer who is obsessed with sharing stories about real life in real time. Writing is my one constant, the one thing that brings me home to myself.

And now I’m a hiker too, even though the unlikely nature of my long-distance treks cannot be overstated. I grew up in Manhattan and London, where the most outdoorsy thing my parents ever did was eat dinner on a patio. They are utterly mystified at why/how/why a person would ever voluntarily sleep in the woods, especially when that person is me, their only daughter.

Maybe if I keep hiking I’ll be able to find an answer to that question.

Or maybe there is no answer and the only thing I’ll end up with is really muscular calves.

Honestly, I’m fine either way.