Silver and Stoker’s hiking adventures


by Rowan Casselman, Reporter


English teacher Leslie Silver and Spanish teacher Amanda Stoker have done many hikes, but none quite as strenuous as the Shorewood stairs. 

“No matter how much I climb, no matter how much I work out, no matter how many weights I lift, I cannot climb those stairs. I just can’t stand those stairs,” said Silver. 

All jokes aside, they are serious hikers. They hike as much as possible, sometimes together and sometimes separate, as often as every other month to several times a week.

Stoker started hiking in 2014. “I hated hiking because I hate walking. I’m super impatient. I need to be there in a hurry so I never understood it… But then I hurt my knee and the only thing I could really do was walk, [so I started] hiking every Saturday,” she said. “I kinda was forced into it, and then I fell in love with it, because, you know, moss and fluorescent greens and…nature.”

Silver started hiking in 2004 after moving to Washington from New York, and then began hiking more seriously in 2011. “I’m a walker. It’s a New York thing and I walk everywhere, so hiking is a natural extension of that. Being out in the mountains, being out in nature, being unplugged from everything…is so important to me.”

The first hike they did together was a backpacking trip in the summer of 2015 on Section J of the Pacific Crest Trail, which is 75 miles long, from Snoqualmie to Stevens Pass. Silver said, “We were friends at work, so we had socialized a bit…and we had this conversation, and I was like, ‘Sure, I’ll do it with you.’ Done.” She added, “It was an eight-day backpacking trip, and we didn’t kill each other. It was kind of a miracle.”

“It was an eight-day backpacking trip, and we didn’t kill each other. It was kind of a miracle””

— Leslie Silver

That same summer neither could get enough. Each had their own amazing experience.

Stoker went out on Section K (Stevens Pass to Rainy Pass) of the PCT for three weeks, alone. “It’s the first time that I felt like nature was a being. Maybe I was losing it, I don’t know [but]…I literally was talking to the trees…and I never felt alone,” she said. I think it was a little crazy, but ignorance is bliss…and I was just so eager to be out there.”

Silver went to Tanzania to climb Mount Kilimanjaro over six days. Because the mountain is 19,000 feet tall, it can be hard to adjust to the elevation change. For this reason, the mantra is, ‘climb high, sleep low.’ “[On] summit day, you sleep at 15,000 feet, and you start climbing at 11:30 at night because it’s a long climb,” she said. “And it’s…so cold, [but] by the time you get up to the summit at 7:30 [or] 8:00 in the morning, the sun is up and it’s beautiful. And then you come back down and you sleep at 10,000 feet.”

Reflecting back now, these hikes are some of their favorites. “We both had these incredibly epic experiences…and it was a real shift for both of us,” said Silver. “It was zero to 60,” added Stoker.

And that’s not the only major mountain Silver has taken on. Two years ago, she took time off from teaching, flew to Nepal, and spent three and a half weeks trekking to Everest Base Camp, which is at an altitude of about 17,000 feet. “It’s hard to train for the elevation, all you can really train for is the endurance,” she said. Having a good mindset and endurance make a huge difference, because if your head isn’t in the game you’re not going to make it. There are days where it is super cold or snowy, and you need to have a strong mentality. “[For example,] getting into basecamp the snow was coming at me. But I was at base camp. I was at the foot of Mount Everest.”

Silver is a cross country coach, which means she and Stoker don’t hike much together during the fall, and sometimes they get bogged down with grading. However, “It’s really nice to have your hiking and backpacking partner be a teacher as well because in the summertime we get to go in the middle of the week when it’s not busy,” said Stoker. 

One of the most important (and heaviest) things to bring hiking is the food. In general, they are not too picky when it comes to the food they bring, and as long as they have some sustenance they’re good. But there’s one thing they cannot go without. “[We] always [bring] chocolate. I cannot stress that enough,” said Silver. Additionally, Stoker is gluten-free and Silver is vegan, but luckily there are tons of substitutes now, even though it can get boring or doesn’t always taste great. 

As for after the hike, “I always want a Diet Coke, and I started eating bugles,” said Silver, whereas Stoker takes a different route. “I like an apple.” Once they return home, “as long as I get a shower and a nap I’m good,” said Silver. 

One of the best things about hiking is the relationships you build. “You’re out there…[and] you talk or you don’t talk, but you’re there with each other, and everything just stays on the trail,” Silver said. “It’s kind of an oasis…and a sanctuary, just being on a trail. And I’ve built some really good friendships just from being on the trail.”