featuring guest authors; crafting tips and projects; recipes from food editor and sleuthing sidekick Cloris McWerther; and decorating, travel, fashion, health, beauty, and finance tips from the rest of the American Woman editors.

Note: This site uses Amazon affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016


Machu Picchu taken from Huayna Picchu
Romance author Virginia Kelly has been a finalist in many prestigious writing competitions. She writes about dangerous heroes (sexy, gorgeous ones, of course!) and the adventurous women willing to take a chance on them. A native of Peru, she works as academic librarian. Learn more about her and her books at her website.

Hiking Adventures: From Incas to Mountain Goats

Travel is my passion. When I travel, I like to hike. I’ve hiked in Arizona, Virginia, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington state, the Scottish Highlands and many other places. I live along the northern Gulf of Mexico, so my “at home” hikes are what I have to refer to as “easy” as far as elevation gains (none at all). But, given an opportunity, I’m up for an adventure—sometimes foolishly.

First up: the hike up Huayna Picchu. That’s the little hill (ha!) that appears behind Peru’s Machu Picchu in all the iconic pictures. Huayna Picchu, at 8,920 feet above sea level, is 1,183 feet higher than Machu Picchu. Ouch. We set off, my youngest and I. He was eighteen; I wasn’t. It took him 35 minutes (he was trying to beat the record; I wasn’t). It took me an hour and a half. By the way, the top of Huayna Picchu is not flat. It’s this chaotic mess of slanted boulders, all threatening to make a person slide off into nothingness. Scary. Why did I do it? Because I have a slight touch of why “the bear went over the mountain.” I still don’t know how long that trail is, but one website said this is a “moderate” hike. For an Inca. I’m not (even though I’m half Peruvian).
Moosehead Lake, Maine
Next came an ill-fated hike near Moosehead Lake in Maine. The brochure said Burnt Jacket Mountain would be an “easy” two-mile round trip hike. I believe the two-mile part—maybe. Easy? For a mountain goat (none in Maine). Anyway, the mile ascent had an elevation gain of 550 feet. That sounds easy, compared to Huayna Picchu, right? Especially when the trailhead is at only 1,030 feet above sea level. It didn’t take long for me to (breathlessly) reach the top. Trees had grown around the large boulders so taking pictures required climbing atop said large boulders in order to see the lake. I took my pictures and stepped down. I’m a flat-lander. I totally forgot I was on a boulder and did a face plant. I caught myself with my right hand (scraped), my camera dangled between boulders (mercifully unbroken), and my glasses were bent (they’d gouged a cut into the bridge of my nose). Ouch. A little more to the left or right and I could have been knocked unconscious to be eaten by a bear (many in Maine). I don’t hike alone any more.
Glacier National Park
Recently I traveled to Montana to visit Glacier National Park with the son who raced up Huayna Picchu. I made a fatal mistake: I didn’t carefully read about the trail *he* wanted to take to Trout Lake. Off we went, me following this (still, of course) much younger son. He kept saying, “It’s just over the next rise.” He said this several times until I lost count of how many rises we’d climbed. Finally, we reached the sign that gave us a little information. We’d come 2.3 miles. It was another 1.5 to the lake my son wanted to fish. It was late, we might not get back before dark, so, back down we came. I know it’s easier to climb up than to come down, but the last mile of that descent had me talking to myself. First it was, “Ouch, ouch, ouch,” with each step, as my left knee complained. Then I graduated to talking to myself. In Spanish. Finally I reverted to “ouch” again. Until my son heard me mumbling. Then I just went for it with a full-throated “ouch” all the way to the bottom. There I read the trail sign. We’d started at Lake McDonald, at 3,153 feet above sea level, and climbed 2,500 feet. Ouch!!! About the mountain goats. There are some at Glacier National Park. None on that trail, but we saw them elsewhere. My son gave me a congratulatory hug for having survived that hike. I was so tired I couldn’t pat myself on my back ;-)

I don’t regret the misadventures because they’ve provided me with unforgettable memories. Have you ever challenged yourself to try something, wondered what you were thinking, then found satisfaction in the effort? I certainly have.

Take a Chance on Me
She has a target on her back...only he can save her

An injury robbed Delta Force Operator Bobby Alvarez's memories of the mission that left a brother-in-arms dead. He blames himself, and until his memory returns, he won’t stop questioning his abilities. On leave, he’s forced to use the skills and sixth sense that failed to keep his team safe.

Melanie Mackenzie overheard a powerful U.S. senator admit to murder, and now he’s set her up to take the fall. With overwhelming evidence against her for murder and treason, she’s on the run from the senator's hitmen and the FBI. There’s no one she can trust, and even the stranger she meets on the beach seems more threat than salvation—until the hitmen find her.

Working together to clear her name, Bobby and Mel race to stay ahead of the killers, but the simmering desire between them may be danger in disguise. Because Bobby’s keeping a secret that could end any chance at happiness…and lead them both into a death trap.

Secrets, murder, treason, and fiery passion. Who can you trust?


Susan Vaughan said...

You are so brave to hike all those places. My daring adventure was a six-day canoe and camping trip in northern Maine. I wasn't at all sure I could do the miles of paddling required, but I made it with help from my canoe partner, my loyal husband.
Hiking? I'll hike vicariously through your adventures.

Virginia Kelly said...

Six days of paddling?? No way! I did a bit of a canoe paddle when I saw my Maine moose at Moosehead Lake :-)

Sheila Seabrook said...

Hiking is hard (I never survive it without a few ouches too!) but when you finally reach the end, it's totally worth it, isn't it? I would love to hike in the places you've mentioned!

BTW, I love your series!

Virginia Kelly said...

Absolutely worth it. I just need to be more choosy and careful :-) Glad you like the series and thanks for posting

Ann Voss Peterson said...

Thanks for sharing your adventures and photos. It looks like a blast. Well, without the mishaps. Glad you survived those! What adventures are you planning for the future?

Jillian said...

sounds like some great adventures. I'd have been saying way more than ouch!

Virginia Kelly said...

Ann, I think it's time for a tamer adventure, something with no hills or mountains or boulders--for now ;-)

Virginia Kelly said...

Jillian, I might have said a *bit* more than "ouch" :-)

Cara Lynn James said...

Ginny, I love hearing and reading about your travels. You take fantastic pictures! Your have an adventurous spirit and very strong legs. Where are you going to next?

Virginia Kelly said...

Cara, As I told Ann, it's probably time for something a big tamer. At least for a little while :-)

Angela Adams said...

Awesome photos! Thanks for sharing.

Virginia Kelly said...

Thanks, Angela, for stopping by and for your comment.