Joseph Koontz

Trail name: The Hare

Home: Raleigh, N.C.

Age: 31

“My mom brought me out. She just went through chemo for leukemia, and this was like a bucket list thing. With two weeks’ notice, she decided to bring me, and I’m really glad she did. She actually helped me by bringing me out here. When I come out of this, I know I’ll be a better person. I feel like I’ve already become a better person, just doing this. Physically, mentally, emotionally… just being around my mom’s been good for me, and just being around nature. I feel like I got lost the last six years. I mean, really it’s her illness: I thought she was going to die, so then I kind of gave up on myself. I got bogged down by that whole cliché of ‘How can bad things happen to good people?’ But then my mom recovered, and I thought, ‘Wait a second. Why am I messed up?’ Not only did she recover, but now she’s helping me recover. I will probably go back and finish college, or at least go back to working a legitimate job. This hike will help me figure it out.”