Monday, September 23, 2013

The Evolution of a Hiker

Post by Nancy Stevens, Gifted Teacher, Harmony Middle School, Loudoun County, VA

Vera would be so proud!
I was never a hiker. The reason could be that I didn’t grow up in a family of hikers, or that my husband the hunter never takes me along because I talk too much, or that hiking shoes just aren't that cute. But the truth is, I never had the desire. Bugs love me, poison ivy finds a way to always cross my path, and restroom facilities in the great outdoors are sadly lacking. When my co-worker Lori Demark approached me about applying for TTEC, I was a little apprehensive; but, as a teacher, I am constantly putting my students in a position to try new things…to stretch themselves. I could do no less. Upon our acceptance into the program, I couldn't help the feelings of excitement and, yes, apprehension as I looked over the itinerary for our fall workshop…a 3-5 mile hike…hmmmm. I began to gather together my gear: Vera Bradley back pack, ankle snow boots (the only walking boots I had), sunglasses, jeans, t-shirt (cotton of course), baseball cap, water bottles, and rain gear. I tried to bring a fanny pack but my kids said “NO!”
Upon our arrival at the Kirkridge Retreat Center in the wilds of eastern PA, we were met by Karen Lutz. Karen has become friend, mentor and inspiration in the short time we've been together. It was late the next evening after our initial greeting, classes and nightly activity, that I had a chance to sit down with Karen and Lori to go over my hiking apparel and equipment. My cap and sunglasses were good, every thing else would have to do except the boots which were exchanged for tennis shoes. Thank goodness I brought them and not some cute clogs. My ensemble was now complete, but I realized that if there was ever going to be a second hike for me, major changes needed to be made.

Look at me now!
I was determined to become the example that I needed to be for my students as one of the TTEC representatives in our school. Bringing the AT to Harmony Middle School through a hiking club is the goal that Lori and I have set for ourselves, and I was determined to be a viable part in the implementation of that goal. With that in mind, I signed up for the overnight hike at the summer week-long workshop held in my back yard at the National Conservation Training Center located in Shepherdstown, WV. As a newbie, I was immediately accepted. (Yay!) Under the guidance of Bob Sickley, our supreme hiking leader, I managed to find myself appropriately suited up and on my way. You can see from the photos just how far I've come. Don’t be surprised when the next time you see me, it will be as we pass on the AT!  

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North Carolina NCCAT participants

North Carolina NCCAT participants
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Mary Jane

Mary Jane
On top of Silers Bald