As early as I can remember I was outside playing. Growing up we lived in a very small town on four acres. Our property sat between several other empty acreages that made it perfect for playing. My brother and I would explore, play army men, or go “camping” in the back yard. I would soon start my adventure with the Cub Scouts followed by the Boy Scouts. It was during a week long backpacking adventure at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico I truly fell in love with backpacking. I had been on many day hikes or even weekend camping trips with the Scouts before then but spending a week deep within the mountains opened my eyes to a new world.
We were raised to love the outdoors and to be resourceful by our parents as well as the Scouts. There was never a moment growing up we were allowed to be bored. If we used the “B” word (bored) my mom would tell us to go outside and play. Both parents grew up in rural Iowa where playing outdoors was where they worked on the farms and played. Our summers were full of camps that ranged from Scout camp to Space camp. There was never a moment to be bored.
Fast forward to my adult life where I was stuck in a cube sitting behind a computer and I was bored. Bored with work and with life. I needed an outlet to find that happiness we all had as children. I found it in spending a few hours or a whole weekend out wandering around the local Kansas City trails.
Shortly after I started again I found myself wanting to something big. I started planning an Appalachian Trail Thru-hike. I did not think it would ever happen but hey why not dream! Then a new door opened up. I was let go from my job and found myself with plenty of time. The date was set for March 17 2013. Not only is this day St Patrick’s day but it is also the day I was told that I was cancer free. At the age of 10 I had been diagnosed with ALL Leukemia.
I was only able to hike 200 miles of the trail finishing the Georgia section and getting a good start into the Tennessee section before trouble struck. Plagued with gear problems, bad weather, health and budget concerns I chose to leave the trail and return to normal life.
I have no regrets of leaving the trail and instead learned so many things about myself and other people along the way. I plan on finishing it someday but for now I am content recharging my batteries with day hikes in Arizona and the occasional yearly big trip.
Thanks for this amazing opportunity and always remember to hike your own hike. It is not fun when you try to keep up with everyone else.