Amanda Hus, who spent this fall hiking the Via Francegina trail, from Canterbury, England to Rome, Italy shared many of her hiking adventures with us tonight. She started out explaining how hard some of the hikes are estimated to be on the Appalachian Trail. Depending on how high the climb might be, the consumption of one Snickers or two Snickers candy bars is necessary. However, she prefers Payday candy bars since there isn’t chocolate that can melt and get messy. She passed a basket of those around the room.
She grew up in Fort Myers Beach and once she heard of the Appalachian Trail she always dreamed of hiking it. Years went by and she raised a family. She started hiking with the folks at the Florida Trail Association. At one point, the opportunity presented itself to hike the Florida Trail from Big Cypress to Pensacola. This was her first backpacking hike. It took about two months. And she had found her new passion.
A week later she caught a ride to Springer Mountain and started the hike she had been dreaming about all her life. Along the way on the AT, she made friends she still keeps in touch with today, even attending the wedding of one hiking buddy. Walking about 16 miles a day, it took her six months to walk to Maine, although she didn’t quite reach the finish line.
In one moment she was in tears because she was so happy she was about to accomplish a lifelong goal. She could see Mount Katahdin in the distance, about 50 miles away. In the next moment, she was in tears from pain, after she fell and injured herself. Using her hiking poles, she forced herself to hike about two miles, in misery with every step, until she could get some help at a rendezvous point. She reached out to one of the friends she made along the trail, who drove out and picked her up.
Since then she has hiked the Florida Trail two more times, the Pacific Crest Trail, and from the Everglades to the Hobe Sound along the Ocean to Lake Trail. She described the different terrain on that trail from cypress swamp to pine flatwoods to sand dunes. She did an eight-day hike in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and walked the Camino de Santiago.
It seems the only thing that can stop her from walking is that injury she suffered on the AT. When the doctor finally declared her recovered from that injury, he talked to her about doing some weight-bearing exercises to further her recovery.
“Walk more,” he said.
She hasn’t stopped.