Janice Van Dyke

Killington Peak

Janice on Killington Peak, VT, with her dog, Eli

Janice, can you give us some brief background on your former life in the corporate world?

I have spent the past 30 years working in the ever changing healthcare industry. My work experiences are varied having spent time in practice management, hospital quality management, pharmacy benefit management, project management, research, and private consulting. I have also taught business and marketing classes at a private ski academy and at the collegiate level. I was very lucky to have worked in positions that offered a good balance of professional and personal life. That balance was tantamount to me especially while rearing a child. However, my last job at a research company often required long hours and frequent travel, so I was thankful my son was in college during that time. And despite my long hours, work ethic, and extensive experience, I lost my job during company layoffs. I had top seniority in the life sciences group, was the oldest, and (probably) had the highest salary. Definitely whiffs of ageism and “salaryism” but will save that topic for another interview!

Can you tell us what led you to start hiking and mountain climbing or was this something you had always done?

Lake George, Adirondacks

Black Mountain, Southern Adirondacks, NY (overlooking Lake George)

My parents told me that my legs were kicking wildly when I was born, so I was destined to be a roamer right from the tender age. I think I got the hiking bug when my father took me on a hike along old railroad tracks in northeastern Pennsylvania. I remember seeing deer, rabbits, an old trestle, and beautiful flowers. My mother packed us a picnic lunch, and I got to carry it in an old rucksack. I also have to give credit to the counselors at Camp Archbald because we would often hike, do camp craft, and sleep out under the stars. I went to Penn State University and joined the PSU Outing Club and that expanded my outdoor experiences considerably. I also spent time reading books by Nessmuk (aka George Washington Sears) and John Muir. By the time I graduated from university, traveling by foot (rural and urban) became second nature to me.

Do you spend time outdoors every day? Is there a certain time of day that you find most magical?

Yes, I spend time outdoors every day. In addition to hiking, I also enjoy swimming, kayaking, tennis, and cycling. During the winter, you will find me snow hiking, cross country skiing or snowshoeing. I don’t alpine ski much anymore due to the expense and having to leave my dog behind. A year ago, I adopted an Australian Cattle Dog/Basenji mix. He is a high energy breed hence my love for the outdoors blends perfectly with his nature. I always love a gorgeous sunrise and sunset but also appreciate the other parts of the day. It is all magical to me. I love seeing the light of late morning streaming through the trees as well as the tones cast on the countryside when the daylight turns to dusk. I feel blessed to be living in a rural area where I can take in nature’s beauty at all times of the day and night. One of my favorite things is going out to view the stars, and when scheduled, waving to the International Space Station.

Do you find there is a spiritual or meditative aspect to hiking?

Canyonlands near Moab, Utah

Canyonlands near Moab, Utah

Indeed! When I got laid off from my job, I felt fearful and despondent. Along with the support from family and

friends, I felt the time outdoors helped me find the strength to carry on. Sometimes my self talk can turn sour, so the noises of nature, be it a tree creaking, a bird singing, or my feet shuffling through the leaves, helps soothe my soul. In 1993, I took a course in Transcendental Meditation (TM) techniques. I often do TM while on my hikes even with my dog in tow. It is really something to behold sitting on a mountain top practicing TM. I also enjoy the company of friends while on the trails. Some of the most interesting conversations have cropped up while ambling through the forest.

What was your most memorable outdoor adventure?

Brandon Gap

Brandon Gap, VT, hike with my son, Michael

There are a plethora of memorable moments, so I find it most difficult to declare a favorite. I was very enchanted with the Scottish countryside and the Swiss/Austrian Alps. I also have incredible memories of adventures in the Adirondacks (upstate New York), the Green Mountains (Vermont), the White Mountains, and the Smoky and Blue Ridge Mountains (North Carolina). And Yosemite was one of the most beautiful as were the Montana Rockies. And Joshua Tree and Moab, Utah were a different kind of spectacular. Scotland’s beauty captured my heart. ALL of my hikes with my son were most memorable. I started him out young. I always enjoyed seeing how much fun he had making camp, building a campfire, canoeing, hiking and bird watching. He loved to identify birds and draw/color pictures of them. My favorite hiking memories are not limited to rural outings. I have been on some very memorable urban hikes. I walked from the port of Montreal to the top of Mount Royal navigating through old neighborhoods and ethnic districts. Also hiked from Notting Hill to the Tower of London and saw the changing of the guard along the way. Hiking around the fabulous city of San Francisco needs no explanation! I also love setting out with newbie hikers and seeing their love for nature blossom.

Your photos are a beautiful way to document your travels, but do you find photography to also be a creative outlet for you? Have you ever dabbled in landscape drawing or painting?

Near Glacier National Park, Montana

Near Glacier National Park, Montana

Yes, photography is a creative outlet, but of late, I have become lazy with my cell phone camera. I have a perfectly good camera but just seem to whip out the cell phone for pictures. The other day, I saw a photographer with his camera on tripod attempting to capture the fall colors. It motivated me to get my camera back out and start taking better quality pictures and bringing back photography as a ritual instead of a “fast food drive thru” experience. I have dabbled in landscape painting, but I have friends who are very good artists, so I rather enjoy looking at their works over my own. In fact, one friend painted a scene from one of my pictures. Maybe I will get the brush and paints out again at another phase of my life.

What’s next for you?

Professionally, I am still looking for full time employment. That will determine where I will move. I am finding my age to be working against me as I compete for jobs. On a personal level, I want to continue to check off hiking spots on my bucket list. Iceland, South America, and Isle of Skye are at the top of the bucket. Also want to get involved in a mentoring program where I, along with my dog, can take young people out on trails to help enrich their lives. I truly believe we are responsible for one another. Many people, young and old, are hurting, so acts of kindness will help ease one’s load and outdoor adventure will help give them a new perspective. I will also remain active in saving our Earth.

White Mountains

Canadian Jay landed on my hand while hiking the White Mountains, NH.


  1. I enjoyed reading this. You have had wonderful adventures and made a life, not just a living. Good luck in your quests, both professionally and travel/hiking.


  2. Such a great article about a great and amazing woman. I had the honor of a visit from her this past summer and hope to hike with her someday!


  3. On my way to work on a Monday morning in July, and all I really want to do is go on a hike!
    Wonderful interview Cathy, and I hope to join Janice on a hike some day soon.


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