Several thru-hikers that I have been following are arriving at Mount Katahdin, Maine, the northern terminus, of the Appalachian Trail. I’d like to take some blog space from time to time to congratulate these brave adventurers and to share some of the variety of people who make up this strange breed of individuals called thru-hikers: the class of 2016. Here is the first installment.
Cheryl (Wonder) and Kelly (Santa)
Started in Georgia on February 26, 2016
Summited Mount Katahdin on July 26, 2016
Total Days for the Journey – 152
This husband and wife team from Massachusetts are in their 50’s and have three grown children. Both Santa and Wonder are teachers – Santa teaches high school mathematics and Wonder ministers in a Kindergarten classroom. Kelly was able to take a leave of absence from his school at the end of February and Cheryl took the entire year off. They chose to leave at the end of February in order to complete the thru-hike by the beginning/middle of August and be back home for the start of the new school year. Wow, what lessons they will bring into their classrooms!
While hiking the Appalachian Trail they left their lives in Massachusetts in the hands of their two oldest children. The oldest loves spreadsheets and numbers so she was put in charge of the hiker mail drop schedule; the middle child was responsible for the house and actually mailing the resupply packages to mom and dad on the trail. The youngest is a junior in college and focused on the academics at hand.
When asked the question, “Why do you want to do this?” Wonder has many thoughts to share. I thought several were quite interesting:
“When I was little my dad had a book with pictures of the AT and I thought it was “cool”.
“My husband and I have hiked many sections of the AT and then I got obsessed (this happens to me). We hiked a section from Mount Greylock in Mass to Hanover, NH and he got the “backpacking bug.”
“I want to know if I am capable of doing this hike end to end.”
“Can I stay (happily) married while hiking 2000+ miles with my husband?”
Trail names: Santa got his because he has a big white beard and his rotund belly when he started the hike (Kelly lost over 30 pounds during the adventure). According to their profile, Kelly wants to be a mall Santa when he grows up. Based on his picture, he would have no problem getting the job.
Wonder was given her name during a section hike from Mount Greylock (the highest point in Massachusetts) to Hanover, New Hampshire. She had taken a class on “wondering” – how to engage the natural, innate curiosity of young children and use that inner desire for discovery to help them learn. Because of her own curiosity, Cheryl tends to start a lot of her sentences with “I wonder…” and so the trail name Wonder just seemed to fit her personality and disposition.
Photos/details gleaned for their online journal – http://www.trailjournals.com/entry.cfm?id=518667.