Funny, You Don’t Look Like a Thru-Hiker
What comes to mind when you hear the term “thru-hiker?” Most people might picture a twenty-something-year-old man with a scraggly beard, probably sitting by his tent eating ramen. Indeed, if you peruse the thru-hiker statistics from The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) website, you’ll discover that about two thirds of all thru-hikers are men. The mean age hovers around 30.
That’s not me.
Don’t ‘OK, Boomer’ Me
Born in 1956, I’m at the tail end of that population explosion dubbed “the baby boomers.” I’m also a CIS-gender, heterosexual woman who has no more fucks to give. Try mansplaining around me and you’ll be facing an icy stare at best and a dope slap at worst.
At 65, it feels like I get injured more easily and take longer to recover than I did in my 20s or 30s. Knowing this, I’m a little more cautious on the trail and never regret taking it easy until I’m fully recovered. Custom orthotics are a vital to my foot comfort and I’ll spend precious ounces on a heavier sleeping pad to ensure a restful night.
You Can Call Me “Rev”
Over the span of my working life I’ve changed careers several times, working in corporate settings and as an entrepreneur. Enrolling in seminary to become a Unitarian Universalist minister at the age of 44 was my biggest and scariest career move. After seminary I worked as a hospice chaplain before finding my dream job as a minister for religious education, retiring at the end of 2020.
Retiring during COVID times meant postponing many of my retirement plans, including volunteering and traveling. When I’m not hiking, I’m practicing piano as an adult beginner, performing at the Dayton Black Box Improv Theater, playing Pokemon Go, and working with my dog, Bodhi.
Meet My Hiking Buddies
While most thru-hikers hike solo, I’m also unusual in that I’m hiking with a team! Originally from Massachusetts, my husband Chris backpacked in the White Mountains as a teenager and is enjoying re-discovering this passion as a self-described geezer. Chris is retiring at the end of January after a long career at AFRL researching materials “for things that you don’t want to break… like aircraft engines.” When he’s not hiking he loves cooking, woodworking and gardening. As a serious foodie, Chris keeps his dehydrator going almost full-time, drying dinners and snacks for our thru-hike.
Our canine companion is a 3-year-old goldendoodle named Bodhi. In addition to being the goodest boy ever and an enthusiastic hiking buddy, Bodhi is a therapy-dog-in-training. After he passes his final tests next month he’ll be eligible to visit and bring smiles to people in hospitals, nursing homes and other facilities. If you meet him on the trail, he wants you to know that he likes to have his butt scratched.
On the Home Front
This hike would not be possible without the encouragement and support of our two young adult sons, Nick and Alex. They’ll be providing cat and home care as well as mailing supply boxes and being our head cheerleaders.
This spring and summer, if you see two geezers on the trail along with a cream-colored pup wagging his tail off, stop and say ‘hey.’ Happy trails!
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