28 April 2010

familiar faces - meet jude shabrach.

Familiar Faces – Meet Jude Shabrach
By Jennifer Hetrick

After her mother died in 1997, Pike Township resident Jude Shabrach began hiking away her grief and since then has fast-paced herself on thousands of trails across the state, country, and world.

As Shabrach and her mother were especially close, accepting the loss was bound to be difficult.

Shabrach told her husband that she’d either need grief counseling or another alternative—hiking.

She recalled enjoying walks with her daughters when they were young.

“I don’t think there were any other options that occurred to me,” Shabrach said about choosing hiking as her healing.

“Exercise helps with your different hormones levels and emotional state,” she said. “I’m not one to exercise for exercise’s sake.”

For two years, Shabrach hiked with her husband until he took a break following an injury that made taking to the trails more of a struggle for him.

They had stopped for ice cream after visiting each trail.

“It gets to that point where if you don’t get out and go hiking, you really feel glum,” Shabrach explained, equating the feeling she gets from hiking to a runner’s high.

(Jude Shabrach smiles as the rhododendron become more abundant and thick 
near Eckville, PA. Photo credits to Rich Pace.)

Next, Shabrach joined up with members of the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Delaware Valley Chapter.

“Some people like to hike along canals, all flat,” she said. “Some people like to hike in the woods.”

“Some people like when there’s an elevation gain,” Shabrach added. “Some people like to make sure they’re by water.”

“You find what kind of hikes you like,” Shabrach reflected.

( The hike continues with more rock scrambling behind the view point.  
Photo credits to Rich Pace.)

Somewhat locally, Shabrach claimed Hamburg’s Pinnacle and the Lehigh Gap as two of her favorite places to hike.

In New York, Shabrach loves to visit the Shawangunk Mountains, or the Gunks.

“I go to rock scramble (rock hop) because at the Gunks are a lot of places where the rocks have tumbled down, and you can climb around in those rocks,” she said. “That’s what I like to do.”

She has boots for different seasons and often spends her three-day weekends hiking.

(Near the end, the thick forest opens up. But the walking is still difficult.  
Photo credits to Rich Pace.)

When she ventures out of town, she stays in hotels, as she prefers it to camping.

“I feel so much better when I’m outside,” Shabrach said. “Sometimes hiking alone is nice because I need the quiet.”

Shabrach averages 350 miles per year in her hikes which are generally 10 miles each.

One item on her bucket list is to hike at every national park, and so far she is at 22 of 58.

Outside of the U.S., Shabrach has hiked in Ecuador, Costa Rica, Peru, and the Galapagos Islands.

“It’s my church,” Shabrach noted, the joy evident in her expression. “I’m often hiking on a Sunday.”

So if you see Jude Shabrach journeying on foot around nearby hiking trails, be sure to say hello to another Familiar Face.


  1. I am definitely intrigued by the lady! I would love to take up hiking as a regularly-occurring hobby + be able to say I "rock scramble."

  2. ps. her photo with the lively rhododendron is quite fabulous!

  3. rock scramble is such a great verb set. i do want to get to know it !

    i imagine jude leads great hikes. someday maybe i'll know that firsthand.