As most of you know I took the first 3 weeks of June to hike the AT with a friend to raise money for a scholarship setup in memory of his son and to bring awareness to HCM (Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy). I thought we were alone in hiking the AT with a cause but I was wrong. I quickly learned there are a lot of people on the trail for a lot of reasons.
We met Kinder, her trail name, a 63 year old woman. She suffered a stroke two years ago and was hiking the trail to help get over it both physically and mentally and she was doing it by herself. We shared a campsite one rainy night.
We met the professor, a 68 year old man hiking the trail in memory of his wife. They had talked about doing it for years but she recently passed away. He started in Georgia and had no idea how far he was going to make. He just knew he had to go as far as he could. We shared a campfire at Jerry Cabin shelter.
There was Fire starter, a 28 year old man who was lost. Lost in life not on the trail. He had no job, could not get into school, didn’t not know what he wanted or where he was going in life. He was going to walk until he figured it out.
We met a grandmother who was on the trail with her granddaughter. There was Roger Rabbit who was on his third attempt to make it, oh yeah he was 62. There was Buck, six years in the Navy and had to get the military out of his head.
So what did I take away from this, inspiration and self-confidence. There were days that were seven hours of uphill, if Kinder could do it so could I. The next time I have a challenge I’ll remember climbing those hills.
I learned it is about the weight, the more baggage you have the tougher it is to move forward, true in life too. I learned that my problems are small compared to others. And most important I learned to not be so afraid of the unknown.
Chris and I did 84 miles in about 3 weeks, we crossed 17 named peaks, covered some of the highest elevations on the east coast. Matt had a motto “Act as if it is not impossible”. Wise words from someone so young. We left a picture of Matt high on Black Stack Cliffs with a beautiful view overlooking the flatlands of Tennessee.