You could write a book about the adventures of Emily Kimball, LA’54, but she’s already done that. Twice.

The 83-year-old is an ardent environmental, civil rights, and anti-ageist activist who’s in constant motion. She hikes, bikes, plays tennis twice a week, participates in three writing groups, and promotes herself as “The Aging Adventurer,” an outdoor enthusiast who channels lessons learned on the hiking trail into a motivational public-speaking business that funds her travels.

Good genes aside, it’s safe to say that Kimball is not your average octogenarian.

After a recent speaking engagement in Dallas, she drove to Big Bend National Park and went camping for seven days. By herself.  Since her retirement at age 61, she has hiked the entire Appalachian Trail, ridden her bike 4,700 miles across the United States, and hiked 192 miles from coast to coast in England. And, oh yeah, she’s battled breast cancer twice.

On elders: We are not tired, we are not worn-out.
On passions: Do what makes you happy.
On aging: Sixty is not the new 40. Sixty is the new 60!
  Get with the program!

She caught the outdoor bug in her 40s, which was just the next step in her evolution toward personal independence and social equality during a time when women were expected to run households rather than businesses.

Having grown up in Rochester, New York, she attended St. Lawrence College in Canton, New York, but dropped out because of “snobby fraternities and sororities, and there were no black people. My brother wanted me to go to the University of Rochester, but I said, ‘I gotta get the hell out of here. There’s more to life than Rochester.’”

Kimball was a card-carrying member of the NAACP when she enrolled at Northeastern as a sociology major, and during the McCarthy era, she was questioned on her political leanings.

As an undergraduate, she created her own, unconventional co-ops: one at the New Jersey state prison for women, and one at the NAACP in New York, where she worked alongside Thurgood Marshall, the first African American Supreme Court justice.

After graduation, she completed a service project in Belgium, hitchhiked through Europe, then earned a master’s in sociology and African studies from Boston University.

For a period, her life became somewhat more orthodox: She worked as a grass-roots community organizer in Philadelphia, married in 1958, moved to Virginia, and raised three children. Divorced at the age of 43, Kimball says her two degrees helped her get back into the workforce, landing a job with the Virginia Office on Aging.

She became a true outdoor evangelist after her divorce, when she joined a group that biked and camped from Maine to Pennsylvania. Among many other adventures was a nine-month sabbatical biking through  New Zealand, Ireland, England, and Wales.

On her website and in her speaking engagements, Kimball denounces ageism. “Seniors have 20 to 30 years after retirement. About 80 percent of us are healthy and having a good time. If you’re not, you should be.”