An interview with Kasandra Fleury

What outdoor activity is your passion?
I am an avid hiker and am out on the trails and in the woods of Vermont and New Hampshire as much as possible. Hiking with dogs is my passion and I hope that the adventures I have with my canine companions will inspire others to hit the trails with their pups as well. I am also really passionate about helping people learn how to teach good canine trail etiquette skills to their dogs so that the hike can be enjoyable for everyone.

How did you get involved in that activity, and how old were you when you started?
Credit goes to my parents for helping me fall in love with nature and the outdoors. We moved to the country in Vermont from the busy suburbs of Long Island, NY when I was in first grade. Surrounded by woods and the Appalachian Trail definitely helped fuel my need to be outside. Before our move to Vermont we did a lot of camping as a family, and dogs were always included in our adventures. Fast forward to when I graduated from college and that is when I really began to love hiking. My first dog of my own, Oliver, helped get me out there and when Maggie entered my life, my fear of hiking new places solo just seemed to vanish. Most times it’s just me and my dogs on our hikes now, but I do love when my friends join us and of course it’s so much fun to hike with my parents.

What was the most epic trip you’ve ever taken?
In 1999 I got the chance to spend five weeks living and working in Yellowstone National Park when I was a part of a Student Conservation Association work crew. This was my first taste of backpacking and I’ll never forget how heavy that pack of mine was that first day. We hiked 14 miles into the backcountry of Yellowstone and set up our base camp. From there we would like ¼ mile each day to and from our work site where we were helping reroute a section of trail used by hikers and pack mules. The last week of the trip was a week-long backpacking trek across the park. What an amazing experience! Changed my life for sure. And just last June I got to go to Grayson Highlands State Park in Virginia with my dog, Maggie, and a friend. We hiked with the wild ponies!

What is the most important piece of gear in your pack? (other than AKU footwear, of course!)
I would say that my Pack-A-Paw emergency dog carrying harness is right up there on the list. Having two dogs and one being in her senior years, I like knowing I can get them off the trail and off the mountains if there is an injury.

Where do you hope your AKUs will take you in the future?
I am super excited to get these boots into the White Mountains of NH as my younger dog begins working on his NH48 list (I just finished that list with my older dog September 2018). I am also hoping to hike the Vermont Long Trail next year but want to do a few overnights this summer if I can make it work.