Bear with me a moment, I am running a bit behind...first let me tell you about the hike on March 18. We met at Harbison State Forest for a 7:30 AM start. We hiked eighteen miles.
Taking a page from Maggie Cash's book and giving you my ten (plus) things learned from the Ultimate Hike:
I got involved with the Ultimate Hike in 2013 after receiving an e-mail from The Backpacker. I was intrigued by the challenge of completing the 28.3 mile hike in one day on the Appalachian Foothills Trail. I was also curious about fundraising. It wasn’t hard to make the commitment. The issue of children’s cancer was very personal to me, as one of my former students, Catherine Sherpy, had lost her courageous fight with leukemia on June 17, 2013. Meeting and training with the Columbia team is something I will always cherish. By the end of my first hike weekend, there was a sense of true accomplishment. I completed the hike and far exceeded my fundraising goal.
This beautiful young woman is Torie Costa of North Carolina. She lost her battle with Cancer on Christmas day. I walked a CureSearch fundraiser with her aunt, an Ultimate Hike two-time alumnae, at the Baxter Trails at Fort Mill earlier this year. She said that she had never heard of CureSearch before the diagnosis...but that is where the doctors directed her family to learn more about the disease and treatment options.
Our last camping trip was a pretty big ordeal. With a 4year old, 3 year old, a 6 months pregnant mama and an eager daddy, we had our work cut out for us. I’m not gonna lie, it had been awhile. Our last camping trip with a 3 year old and 1 year old wasn’t exactly a success nor was I eager to do it again. With a baby on the way, I wasn’t sure when a good opportunity would present itself, if it ever would again. I was tired of hearing my husband’s exasperated sighs over how few times we had taken our kids camping.
Short version: I successfully completed another Ultimate Hike on Saturday, May 16. I hope you will read the longer version, below, when you have time and a cup of coffee or an adult beverage. If it does not make you proud to have been a part of it, I am a lousy writer/storyteller.
I told you that I was having foot trouble. I tried re-lacing my boots (that I had already worn for hundreds of miles) to put pressure on different spots...decided my feet had changed and I needed new boots...so I went to the Backpacker. Because I am breaking in new boots, I have been doing shorter hikes...eight milers. I chose the Palmetto trail because it is close to my home. I told you earlier that there was a lot of trash along that trail so I took a large trash bag and an extended reach "grabber" to pick up the trash. Sticking close to the trail, I easily filled the 30 gallon bag with plastic wrappers and bags, cups, Styrofoam containers, etc. I also took clippers and did trail maintenance where Spring growth was encroaching...no, none of this "public service" was mandated by a judges order!
We are 27 days (but who is counting?) from the Ultimate Hike...28.3 miles on a mountain trail in one day. Serious fund-raisers say that you should never admit this, but I want you to know that I have met the financial requirement ($2,500) and my own goal ($2,830) for the year...my current total is $3,219. Some people wait until near the hike to contribute so I am hopeful more money will come in.
Earlier in the week, I emailed Coach Mel and told him I had broken my ankle and would not be able to hike. He responded with concern and compassion. He was less charitable when I said "April Fools"...he mentioned the boy who cried "wolf". What Mel didn't realize is that many of my donors have made it clear that I need more of an excuse than a broken leg if I do not make the full 28.3 miles on hike day!
It was a dark and stormy night...OK, actually Saturday was a sunny and cool (starting just above freezing) morning...a beautiful day for hiking. Four members of our team met at Harbison Forest and hiked just over eleven miles. Sixty-nine days from the 28.3 mile/one-day Ultimate Hike, I am feeling pretty good but I know that I will need the time to improve my stamina and toughen my feet. Saturday night was an Advil night! For whatever reason, the eleven miles this week took less of a toll on me than the six+ miles last week. Our Columbia team has lost a couple of members (due to scheduling conflicts, not injury) but we still have about fifteen members, including distant hikers assigned to us...from WI, UT, CA and FL. At Saturday's practice, we had Mel (the Coach of the Columbia team...who I hiked with me in the 2013 Ultimate Hike), Abby from West Columbia, Krystina (amazing 16-year old hiker) and me.
The Ultimate Hike! Are you ready for a challenge? …a life changing, lifesaving adventure! Your boots can help find a cure for children’s cancer. Non-hikers and experienced hikers have successfully completed this fully supported hike. You will be rewarded by meeting the challenge and by working with a dedicated group of people.
The ground trembled, but it was the huffing and snorting outside that woke me in the dead of night. Looking through the screen of my tent, I saw the large black bear lurking about 10 feet away and staring back at me. I struggled to get my brain around what I was seeing while working to shove the sleep away and awaken my senses. It huffed again, and it seemed that bubbles blew from its nose.
June 29, 2014, Foothills Trail - I have just returned from volunteering at the Ultimate Hike on the Foothills Trail...it was different, both because of the time of year and because of seeing it from a different angle: volunteer instead of hiker.
Although our Columbia team was smaller, the overall group was diverse and larger than 2013 (a lot of familiar faces among coaches and hikers). There were also a couple of insane people:
It’s cold and rainy this morning in western Jersey, but I am eager to get outdoors, though a bit anxious, as my transition to ridgerunner is surprisingly difficult this year.
It was not my intention to participate the Winter Death Race this year. In fact, I had only planned to do Summer DR. There is something about Andy Weinberg saying you should check it out that takes away all common sense, but who needs common sense anyway. Perhaps this is how we keep getting in trouble with our significant others, our inability to tell Weinberg no. In retrospect, I will say this was one of the best decisions I have made in quite a long time, either that or I have gone completely off the deep end, which is a distinct possibility.