Last year at this time, I posted about playing in the mud and my 18-mile Homestead Challenge, one of the Rachel Carson Trails Conservancy hikes. I said that we should all play in the mud now and then to stay young at heart. When I said “mud,” little did I know that this year’s hike – held on Saturday, June 22nd – would have more mud than I could imagine.
Weeks of unrelenting rain made the trails muddy beyond belief. Well, at least my belief. We started with a perfect day – the best weather we have ever had for the Rachel Challenge. But the rain made the trails the muddiest we had ever seen. Can’t have everything, right?
Just in case that I am accused of exaggerating, it was more like 17.3 miles, not 18, but with the mud, it felt like forever. Nonetheless, hiking with my husband; his best friend, Mark, who came into town from San Diego for the hike; and Melissa, Mark’s niece, the day was enjoyable and challenging.
I was very glad that I had a good set of poles that I had used for a few hikes and knew they would work. In a later post, I’ll talk more about equipment.
I made a few rookie mistakes – I didn’t drink enough water and should have snacked more along the way. I felt good at the end, but was wiped out two days later. I think dehydration played a part.
It was great hiking with folks that I enjoyed and we would jockey around – sometimes I was with Paul, sometimes I was with Mark and yet, other times I was with Melissa. It made the day go faster.
Other than the company, the best part was the group of people that I “carried” with me. We “carried” over 50 folks who are either facing challenges or have passed – when I fell twice in the mud, was completely whipped or just discouraged, I thought of them and it kept me going. We also raised over $1,000 in our Hiking for a Reason – raising money for Survivor’s Outdoor Experience (SOE) Healing Adventure Retreat East held at Chatham University Eden Hall Campus the following weekend.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that my brother, Jack Ganster, 15-year brain cancer survivor and founder of SOE, my niece, nephew and family friend, hiked the Friends & Family Hike that day. It was “only” eight miles, but they still had their share of playing in the mud.
Time to get back out in the mud!