Q&A: Rachel Lauderbaugh – Presidential Range Expedition

Rachel Lauderbaugh is a U.S. Air Force veteran from Anchorage, AK, who took part in the Presidential Range expedition earlier this year. We asked her a few questions about her experience with Warriors to Summits and this is what she had to say.

Rachel hiking over a mountain rangeQ: During the experience, what was the greatest challenge you faced and how did you overcome it?

I think the greatest challenge of my recent No Barriers expedition was the not being prepared. I was a last-minute add-on so I did not get any time to train. I overcame the long tired days by watching David. Every time I felt tired or that I wished I was in better shape, I just looked at him, and dug deep in myself to find even a piece of the strength he has.

Q: Has life changed since your experience?

Life has changed since the experience as I am trying to be more active. I lost a huge part of me two years ago and I have been struggling to find myself. I lived my life on the couch and I am trying to leave the last two years behind and start fresh.

Q: Have your relationships improved with your family, friends, spouse? Do people see a change in you since you returned?

My husband has noticed a change. He said that he has not seen me so happy in years. It is not all happy and fun back at home though. I have been taken care of by my husband for the last 10 years due to my disability, and now that I am feeling better and happier, there is a new normal we must get used too.

Q: Can you describe your best day on the journey?

The best day on my journey was at the end of the longest day. From the summit of Mt. Washington to the next hut, we were all just chatting, trying to keep our minds busy as our bodies were complaining. I was talking with Michael and we made a connection that I am the one who sent him down range on two of his deployments. It was just insane to connect the dots and find the connections. I cannot describe to anyone how much it meant for me to meet him, to see him living and thriving in his life. One of my big struggles from my time in the military was uploading all the soldiers onto planes, and then downloading their bodies so they could be back with their families. To meet someone who was not only injured, but died multiple times, and then he is an amazing guy, with a lovely wife….. It just was so healing.

Q: What does the “No Barriers Life” mean to you?

The No Barriers Life has brought this feeling of family back for me. I have felt alone since I have separated, and meeting back up with veterans, and being accepted even with my “invisible wounds,” it just warms me.

Q: Looking back, what means the most to you from your time on your No Barriers Warriors Expedition?

What means the most…. Not feeling alone. The vets and guides I have met on these trips care, they check in, I really believe that if I needed any of them for something…. they would be there. That’s priceless.

Q: Anything else you would like to share?

I would like to thank No Barriers. I have been a part of some other veterans’ groups trying to help veterans reconnect and heal, but I really believe No Barriers is doing it right. Getting us into nature, reconnecting with each other, experiencing new things — and also just letting us hang out together with no agenda just being our crazy messed up selves.

Rachel, Adele and Jill goofing around