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My Smith's Point sunset hike on July 6.

Nantucket Walkabout lives!

Hikers photographing the active osprey nest on Hummock Pond along the Gardner Farm hike on July 4.
My magic bus!

It is a fascinating, exhausting and exhilerating thing starting a business, and that's what I've done.

This summer I launched Nantucket Walkabout, guided natural history hikes on Nantucket's conservation land. It's a venture that I've been working on for two and half years. A woman who had been in the audience at a talk I gave at the Nantucket Historical Association's Whaling Museum for their Food for Thought series in October 2015 on "Nantucket: A Natural History", my second book, which published in June that year, said to me after the talk while I was signing book in the museum gift shop that I should be leading natural history hikes on Nantucket. She said that far too many people visit the island without ever learning about its natural world and all of the beautiful protects lands all over the island. I remember thinking initially how boring and repetitive such a job would be.

As I processed her idea over that winter, thinking of all the places I might lead people on hikes and of how much attention my Instagram and Facebook feeds get whenever I post photos on my daily morning walks with my dog, I came around to the idea that people really will want to be led out into Nantucket's wilderness to learn about how the island was born and evolved into what she is now. I had saved a pile of dough that I'd committed to a transport vehicle, website, advertising and promotion, which I was able to finally spend starting last December with the purchase of my van. I'd taught myself how to use Wordpress and was around 60% done with the site when a friend from college with an ad and web design business offered to help, so I handed all of that over to him and focused on getting the van ready.

I was shooting for mid-May to do a soft launch, meaning free hikes for friends to try this out, but web site issues and other snags ate up the rest of May and most of June. I was so stressed about not missing any part of the season, but I kept telling myself that this is my learning year and that I'll be offering hikes throughout the summer and well into the fall. I started the soft launch on July 2 and am open for business starting July 8. The hikers who've joined me on the first few complimentary trips have been a delight with their questions, advice and excitement about this new service. They reminded me of the discoveries I made while I explored the island for the first time, but a more salient take away is the reassurance that starting Nantucket Walkabout was the right thing to do.

I'm glad I waited and took my time at a pace that I could deal with. I need to grow into this new job and not rush it regardless of whatever financial chickens I may be counting along the way.

I encourage anyone interested seeing Nantucket beyond the downtown urban part of the island, wanting to see the island's natural world up close while learning about places to hike on your own, to check out my website, and book a hike with me.

I'm off on another island adventure and it feels wicked cool!