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Hiking the Appalachian Trail was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for Christine Taylor. With her sights set on hiking the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail, from Mexico to Canada, Taylor is giving talks about her Appalachian thru-hike to raise funds for her next adventure.
Recently, her first talk hosted by Spindrifters Inc., in Saint Andrews, drew 107 people who Taylor held spellbound as she told her story with passion and humour. She had people laughing at one moment and wiping away tears the next; her audience was awestruck by her perseverance against all of the odds the Appalachian Trail and nature could throw at her.
As she spoke, you could hear a pin drop. “I wasn’t carrying my full pack on my first day, just a book bag, when I registered” At the start of her hike, husband Steve Taylor, her biggest supporter, ‘slack-packed’ her gear along the way as she gradually added weight increasing the size of her pack each day. By the fifth day, Taylor was carrying her full pack. However, back at registration, a woman who doubted Taylor’s abilities because she didn’t look like a thru-hiker, said “this isn’t for you, dear” and didn’t issue her a number. “I kept her thought in my head, telling myself ‘I’ll show her!” She averaged 13.87 miles per day; some days she covered up to 27 miles.
Guide book in hand, the Saint Andrews woman hiked the world’s longest footpath, at 2,200 miles (or 3,540-kilometres) from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin, Maine. She traversed 14 states in 158 days from April to September 2016, covering most of the distance carrying a 30-pound backpack loaded with camping gear and food. She walked with fellow hikers she met along the trail, some of whom have become lasting friends.
She encountered beautiful, breathtaking vistas along the way, saw bear and snakes – but was not attacked or bitten, trekked through some heavy rains and thunderstorms, zip lined over a river and hiked during extremely hot humid summer days . At one point, she used a fire tower as a clothesline to dry her tent. She took refreshing dips in rivers and lakes when the opportunity arose.
Along the way, she kept an online journal and updated her Facebook page, with photos and descriptions of her progress. At times, Taylor feared she couldn’t finish, but good camaraderie with her fellow hikers and the kindness of ‘trail angels’ kept her going. ‘Trail angels’ help hikers by doing everything from leaving some food and drink on the trail to housing and feeding them at their homes to providing rides into nearby towns and moving packs to the next shelter stop.
Find out more about her project at www.trailjournals.com/Hazel.