Heather has long held a deep connection with and reverence for the natural world. Over the last two decades, she has dedicated herself whole-heartedly to the plant world.
Her plant journey began as a child on her land with her grandparents. Experienced professional gardeners, her grandmother tended flowers and her grandfather cultivated a vegetable garden. Their love for the botanical world informed her own awareness of the intrinsic value of nature and later inspired her to learn more.
In college, she dug her own hands in the dirt at Warren Wilson College, planting veggies and tending herbs on the campus farm. During this time, she earned her degree in philosophy with an emphasis in environmental philosophy. Afterwards, she studied holistic health through work in a family-owned health and supplement shop and immersed herself in the study of yoga, earning a certificate in Hatha Yoga from the Asheville Yoga Center.
In 2009, Heather focused her studies on plant medicine and wildcrafting by earning a certificate in Herbal Medicine, Plant Identification, Taxonomy, and Medicine Making from the Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine. Shortly thereafter, inspired by all that she had discovered in the plant world, she launched her business, The Botanical Hiker, with the purpose of inspiring others in better understanding and working with plants as food and medicine. Since that time, she has dived deep into the world of plants, exploring her relationship with them as food, medicine, and spirit through months-long treks in the field, developing seminars and workshops, making herbal products, and writing books.
Over the years Heather has teamed up with conservancies, environmental non-profits, and world-renowned resorts, guiding thousands of people into the plant world through walks, seminars, and workshops. She is ever expanding her own plant-based knowledge through a variety of classes and workshops, a pile of plant-inspired books, an ever-growing herb garden, and long woods wanders.
As far back as Heather can remember the natural world has provided solace, companionship, and inspiration.
These experiences have led her down every path she's taken from plant study to long-distance hiking to earning a certificate from the Forest Therapy School as a Forest Therapy guide.
She believes that remembering our relationship with the land and its inhabitants is to remember self and stay true to our unique path. Strengthening these relationships is key to safeguarding the natural world we love so dearly. She has led forest therapy programs with individuals of all ages, in urban and wild lands.
Motivated by her love for and desire to deepen her connection with the natural world, Heather has hiked thousands of miles.
Her journey on foot began with a thru-hike on the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. This six-month trek inspired her to learn how to work with wild, regional plants as food and medicine. Since that time, she has researched the plants and incorporated them into backcountry meals and wild remedies on every hike.
She has also thru-hiked the Mountains to Sea Trail twice, Finger Lakes Trail System, Long Path, Florida Trail, Mid State Trail, and Tuscarora Trail. Every hike is another opportunity to expand her connection to both plants and place. Fueled by her devotion to the trail and a desire to inspire others she has penned books, provided seminars with hiking clubs, trail organizations, and resorts.
Heather has authored three books inspired by her long-distance hikes and experiences with the plants.
Her first two books are practical guides to working with the plants as food and medicine: A Guide to the Edible and Medicinal Plants of the Mountains to Sea Trail (2014) and A Guide to the Edible and Medicinal Plants of the Finger Lakes Trail (2016). Her third book, Love and the Long Path (2021) is a lively account of her and her partner's journey on New York State's Long Path and highlights their deepening connection to the natural world and each other.
She is presently working on her fourth book, which chronicles their experience thru-hiking the 1,100-mile Florida Trail. Heather is also the Wild Food columnist for Dirt Magazine (2017-present) and the author of The Botanical Hiker blog (2011-present).