How the Dream Began
Freedom, self-reliance, challenge, life-changing, dream-fulfilling, difficult, exciting. These are just a few words I use to describe both the hike and my reasons for wanting to do it.
I think most people have dreams in their youth. They often begin with the words “when I grow up.” I had some dreams and I am lucky in that for me many of those have come to life. Then there are the dreams that find us when we thought we were past having new dreams and life goals. An AT thru-hike is one such dream.
Challenge, Exciting, Life-Changing
So one day several years ago I heard about an event called the Ultimate Hike. It is an event to raise funds for pediatric cancer research through an organization called CureSearch for Pediatric Cancer and consisted of a one-day 28-mile hike. Outside all day walking in the woods and raising funds for a cause that is near and dear to me it seemed perfect. I have talked to too many children about dreams that now can never come true now I could spend a day hiking and help ensure more children would be able to follow their dreams. I have lived my life in the shade of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Picnics, camping, playing in the creek, or just driving in the park are some of my best memories but I had hiked little if at all since I was a kid and as I began training with a group of other local participants it became clear that although I had enjoyed “hiking” in the past, what I had been actually done was more like “a casual walk in the woods,” not hiking up and down mountains for miles and even that I had not done since high school. Getting ready for the hike was hard, the hike itself was hard to the point of painful but every time it got to hard I would think of a child I knew would love to have the strength to walk let alone hike and I found I could take one more step. I also found that I enjoyed the “hard” and discovered the satisfaction of type 2 fun.
Difficult, Self-Reliance, Freedom
One of the trails I hiked in training for this event was the AT between Newfound Gap and the Boulevard on the way to Mount LeConte. As you leave the parking lot there is a sign that gives the mileage from that point both to Springer Mountain and to Katahdin. It was there that I began to dream of the Appalachian Trail. I had heard the name before but not until that day did I know just how big it was and not until I started reading about it did I discover the awesome idea of a thru-hike! I knew it would take several years before there would be any chance this dream would come true but I continued to dream and now my chance is here and the dream has been improved by the fact that my husband has decided to hike with me.
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