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The Why

     I have always loved being in the woods. Most of our family vacations growing up involved camping and hiking. We visited many beautiful areas in my home state of Michigan, including the Upper Peninsula. We traveled as far south as Florida and as far west as Wyoming. Most of those trips were in a pop-up camper. To this day, I am not sure that there are too many moments sweeter than those that are spent sitting around a campfire as the sun goes down after a day on the trail. 

     During three summers while I was in college, I worked in Yellowstone National Park. The job itself was not all that glamorous, but that "time-off" made it all worthwhile! My friends and I hiked hundreds of miles each summer, discovering canyons, mountains, rivers, lakes, waterfalls and hotsprings. I loved the forest and being in it to such an extent that I graduated from the University of Montana with a Bachelors Degree in Forestry with a focus in Recreation Resource Management.  My plan was to work for the Forest Service or a National Park in the western United States. There's a "but" here, but it's a good one. While at the University of Montana, I met, fell in love with and married the man I had been praying for for years. We settled in Missoula, Montana where he had a good job, and I worked full and part-time jobs until we began having children in 1988. Even though I never held a job in the area of my degree, I have never regretted that direction of study. It was fascinating to me and continued to fuel my love for the outdoors.

     Since then we have been blessed with three incredible sons, three wonderful daughter-in-laws, and so far three adorable grandchildren with our fourth on the way! We have continued the tradition of spending our family vacations camping and hiking, and often throw a little fishing in the mix. When our kids got to be teenagers and I had a little more time, I began hiking regularly at a local recreation area near Missoula. That led to more adventures and trips into the Bitterroot mountains and canyons. Our middle son in particular loved hiking deep into the Bitterroots to fish mountain lakes. After doing a few those with him, I was hooked. The deeper into the woods, the farther away from civilization the better. We considered our trip a great success if fish were caught and no other humans were spotted!

     In 2016 I started reading about some of the National trails that people were thru-hiking. I never planned on conquering them as a thru-hiker, but the idea was intriquing to me. In reading about them, I happened upon the Pacific Northwest Trail. It's location and length made it seem more doable to me than many of the others. So a dream began to form of completing this 1200 mile trek as a section hiker. Being a realist, I knew there were hurdles. I am not young, I am not in peak physical condition, much of the trail is remote and rugged, and many sections will require days and weeks of backpacking. I also knew that none of those hurdles would  be cleared if I didn't take the first step. So I recruited a group of friends, studied maps, prepared the best I knew how, said a prayer, (maybe more like many prayers) and literally took the first step! With each new section, we are more excited to see where this journey will lead us!

     So now, I am finally getting to the "Why". I thoroughly enjoy hiking. I have discovered that I also enjoy setting goals and making plans to move toward those goals. I really want to encourage others, of any age, to pursue what you love, set goals and take those steps to reach them! It truely is never too late! Regardless if I finish this trail, I have already and am confident that I will continue to love every moment of the journey!



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