A while ago I entered a contest on a whim. I didn’t think it would ever go anywhere so I don’t think I ever fully admitted to myself just how much I wanted to win this. The contest is being hosted by Kurgo, a company that makes outdoor & travel products for dogs. They are picking 4 winners to sponsor a dream adventure with their four-legged friend.
If I win I’ll be able to thru-hike the entirety of the Mountains to Sea Trail (I’ll be paddling about 200 miles and hiking 940 miles). The trail extends the width of the state of North Carolina, starting at Clingman’s Dome at the border of Tennesse & North Carolina and continuing to the Outer Banks.
There are a lot of logistics that I still have to figure out with this hike, there’s not one complete fully accurate guidebook yet since the trail has yet to be completed. But I’ve been trying not to look into that too much yet since I didn’t want to get my hopes up.
So why do I want to win?
Obviously, it’s the adventure of a lifetime. An amazing way to celebrate completing a year with AmeriCorps. And also, what could possibly be a better way to bring in your 25 birthday? But to me, this opportunity is so much more than just a chance to have an amazing adventure. Don’t get me wrong, spend just over two months on the trail with Harley would be a dream come true. I know that every day would bring a new exciting challenge and I know that this would be the ultimate life for him. He truly loves being on the trail. He curls up in my sleeping bag with me at night and in the mornings he’s ready to go, tail wagging and excited for more adventure. He is, really and truly, the best hiking companion I’ve ever had. He has his flaws too, but doesn’t everyone?
I don’t want this hike just for me and Harley though. I want this hike because it would provide me with such an incredible opportunity to connect with so many people, to inspire them to get outside. I would give anything to be able to connect with more women to encourage them to get outside. I want families to feel like they can get outside, inspire the nature bug in their children. Nature is our foundation, our connection to the world and we simply don’t do enough to educate people on the benefits of being outside.
Outdoor sports have predominantly been run by men but women are beginning to take it by storm! I want to show women that we can do this too, that we are strong and able enough to complete a solo thru-hike. Along those lines, I want to use this hike as a way to create a fundraisers for organizations that already do that.
SheJumps is a great program that empower women everywhere to get outside more often. I’m looking forward to working with them more in the future, but they are a very deserving organization.
The Outdoor Women’s Alliance is another great program that is currently working to start an outdoor education program in public schools across the U.S. Having spent the past school year volunteering with AmeriCorps and seeing how school’s work this is something that I’m incredibly passionate about and I would love to see the program become successful.
For a while I was afraid to admit just how badly I wanted to win this competition. But I do, I really want this opportunity. This hike is not something that I can afford on my own. Anyone who knows anything about life in AmeriCorps knows that a savings account is not in our vocabulary. I’m not complaining, it’s simply a fact of life when in AmeriCorps.
I would love to live a life on the trail and explore so much of the history of a state that has become home for me. Moving to North Carolina provided me so many wonderful experiences and changed my life for the better, I would give anything to see all that this beautiful state has to offer. I want to give Harley an epic adventure that I just know that he would love. The two of us are so connected and to further that bond by spending two(ish) months hiking and paddling would be simply fantastic. And to have the opportunity to connect with and hopefully inspire so many people would be beyond my wildest dreams. I don’t even have the words to describe how much this hike would mean to me.
This whole experience has been humbling. I’ve received so much support from so many people. It has made me feel truly loved and to see the excitement others have when I tell them about my dreams only furthers my own excitement. Even if I don’t win, I’ll be thankful to have made it this far. But please, if you could take a second to vote for me and share this with your friends Harley and I will be eternally grateful.