It’s almost here. After two years of planning, our family will start the Mountains to Sea Trail this week. A couple of words have stuck out as we’ve assembled our gear and made the final preparations.

Nervous. Yes, I have hiked 13,000 miles of long distance trails on six continents and set a record on the Appalachian Trail, but I am still anxious about the MST. I’m not the athlete I once was and I have commitments that I didn’t have before. This fall my objective is to raise awareness and support for the long trail that stretches across my home state and I don’t want to mess that up.

I don’t want to get hurt and not be able to hike.

(BTW – If I do get injured, I told my husband, Brew, that he has to hike the trail in my stead. He’s only half-way hoping that I don’t get hurt.)

I’m worried about whether or not our fundraising efforts are successful.

I’m anxious about falling off pace when we have group hikes and public events pre-scheduled.

Most of all I’m hesitant about my capacity to log miles and still be there for my family.

There’s a lot that I’m scared of heading into this endeavor and that feels both awful and wonderful. Ultimately, I’m grateful for the opportunity to fail.

Excited. I have always wanted to hike the Mountains to Sea Trail. Throughout all my travels, I’ve always said that there is no place I would rather live and hike than North Carolina. I’m looking forward to starting on “home turf” in the Appalachian Mountains and working my way to the Outer Banks. Our daughter, Charley, is really excited that she is going to spend her fifth birthday (Nov. 13th) at the beach. There are numerous friends and family members who we are looking forward to connecting with on our journey. We are eager to discover new coffee shops and craft beer – and compare all best barbeque North Carolina has to offer. In my mind, there is nothing better than hiking – and there is something extra special about walking across your home state.

Concerned – But Hopeful. One of the few places I’ve lived besides North Carolina is Charlottesville, Virginia and the events that transpired there this week hit pretty hard. Trails are not a line in the sand that divides us, but one that can bring us together. As I walk across a state that is divided by politics – and basketball, I hope to illustrate that the Mountains to Sea Trail can bring people together from different walks of life together and provide common ground, conversation, and compassion.

Thankful. This hike is part work, part fun, and all heart. If my husband wasn’t supportive and willing to travel across the state with our kids this wouldn’t be possible. It is going to be very challenging for him to juggle the kids, shuttle me to and from trailheads, and handle our communication and logistics. The walking is the easy part and I am thankful he is helping me with everything else.

There is a lot of anticipation and build up leading into this endeavor and I have to remind myself that the basics of what we are doing are, in fact, basic. Our family has the opportunity to be on a trail that we love, doing what we love, with the people that we love.

Won’t you join us in our journey? www.jpdhikesthemst.org