Local author completes 444-mile hike

  • Monday, June 16, 2014

Andra Watkins PROVIDED

Andra Watkins is the author of the acclaimed debut novel “To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis.” One year ago, Watkins set aside her established management and strategic planning practice to follow her path to publication, and then she kept on walking. In addition to her novel and other writings, Watkins publishes a blog with a worldwide following – approaching half-a-million page views – and is a well-regarded and inspiring public speaker with an entertaining YouTube presence.

Andra Watkins lives in Charleston, South Carolina with her husband but travels regularly for book events, speaking engagements and adventure.

“To Live Forever” is an ennobling story about the power and significance of the father-daughter relationship, played out in a fantastical novel set along the Natchez Trace. To celebrate its publication in March, Watkins hiked the entire 444-mile length of the Trace with her father along in support. She is the only living person known to have hiked the Trace in one continuous walk from Natchez to Nashville, just as the pioneers did prior to the rise of steam power in the 1820s. From March 1 to April 3, she walked 15 miles a day, six days a week with one rest day per week. She spent each night in the modern-dayequivalent of stands, places much like Grinder's Stand, where Meriwether Lewis died from two gunshot wounds on Oct. 11, 1809.

The journey that Watkins took with her father parallels the novel's plot and enriches the reading of the story. The experience of the walk has inspired her upcoming memoir of the adventure, “Not Without My Father,” due for publication in the fall.

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