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Magic Man
01-07-2008, 20:14
Sudduth treks 2,175 miles

Dec 19 2007

By ELIZABETH SHEPHERD

Rebecca Sudduth, a fourth-generation Islander, is no stranger to the kinds of adventures most people would rather read about. She endured a brutally hot summer in 2001 working in an Iowa corn field, rode out the ravages of Hurricane Katrina as an emergency room nurse in New Orleans and volunteered on a medical mission trip to Haiti in April 2007.

But Sudduth, 27, admits she was spooked on Oct. 28, when she faced her first night alone on a five-month hike of the Appalachian Trail. She was inside Tennessee’s Cherokee National Forest, at the end of a chilly 25-mile slog, when she saw a bear.

“It was the biggest black bear I had seen on the trail,” Sudduth recalled, sitting in the warmth of Vashon’s bustling Café Luna, her small but strong frame tucked comfortably in a chair. “I had a hard time deciding if it was safer to keep hiking or stop for the night,” she said.

Sudduth chose to stop, making camp in a primitive, open-air shelter. She crawled in her sleeping bag and soothed her nerves by putting on her headphones and listening to NPR. Soon, she drifted off to sleep.
“Very cold night,” she wrote in her trail journal the next day. “But I slept well.”
Perhaps sensing Sudduth’s indomitable spirit, the bear had stayed away, and Sudduth’s journey continued.
Sudduth completed her 2,175-mile hike — the entire length of the Appalachian Trail — on Nov. 19, arriving at Springer Mountain in Georgia 159 days and approximately five million steps after she began her journey on Maine’s Mount Katahdin on June 24.

She brought home not only stories of bears, bugs and blisters, but also accounts of remarkable new friendships made along the way, photographs of unspoiled American landscapes and, most importantly, the pride of accomplishing an arduous athletic feat.

The people who know Sudduth best weren’t surprised by her ambition to hike the entire Appalachian Trail.
“There were clues,” said her father, Mike Sudduth.

She earned a black belt in Tae Kwon Do at the age of 12, played co-ed football at McMurray Middle School and went to state in cross-country in high school. She always surrounded herself with like-minded friends, gravitating at UW to “Outdoor House,” the dorm-of-choice for backpackers, skiers, climbers and runners.
Still, this hike was the biggest physical challenge she’d ever attempted.
The Appalachian Trail, completed in 1937, is a unit of the National Park Service. It crosses 14 states, six national parks and eight national forests. The trail’s terrain ranges from rocky, mountainous outcroppings to lush valleys, and it is home to more than 2,000 examples of rare, threatened, endangered and sensitive plant and animal species.

According to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, a non-profit group, approximately 2,000 hikers attempt a “thru-hike” (the term used to define any one of several ways hikers walk the entire trail) each year. Only one in four make it. Of those, only 25 percent are women. Sudduth was sure she’d be in that select group.
“I never doubted I’d finish,” she said. “I only debated at what point along the way I would begin to call myself a thru-hiker.”

Sudduth first learned about the Appalachian Trail several years ago from a friend, Jason Peacock, at the University of Washington whose fascination with the trail sparked Sudduth’s imagination. In August 2001, she traveled to Virginia to walk a 100-mile stretch.

After that experience, her goal to hike the entire length of the trail took shape.
“I thought it would be such an adventure,” she said.

But for a while, other adventures got in the way. She moved to New Orleans, attended nursing school and eventually worked as an emergency room nurse at Touro Infirmary, New Orleans’ only community-based, not-for-profit hospital. She returned to the Northwest in December 2005, three months after surviving Hurricane Katrina.

Sudduth went back to the University of Washington, and back to work, saving her money for the day she would set foot again on the Appalachian Trail.

Finally, on June 24, two weeks after receiving a degree in nursing from UW, Sudduth began her grand trek, heading to Maine to take the north-south route, the less popular approach. Her parents Mike and Shannon Sudduth escorted her to the northern trailhead and waved goodbye as she slipped into the woods.
“Shannon and I were both excited about Becca’s hike in the wilderness,” Mike Sudduth recalled. “But the moment she disappeared into the woods of Maine, a touch of sadness — or dread — overcame us both.”
Her parents returned home and awaited word of her safe arrival to the first trail town of Monson, Maine. They stayed busy preparing and shipping food boxes to her. She had left detailed instructions on what to send in each box, and where to send them.

From the start, Sudduth dutifully sent home handwritten trail journal entries, which her father posted on her blog, www.trailjournals.com/rebecca (http://www.trailjournals.com/rebecca). (The complete journal is still posted on the site.)
Her first dispatches were filled with accounts of adjusting to the physical demands of the trail. Because of her many injuries along the way, from scraped knees to lost toenails, she wrote that she acquired the trail name “Boo-Boo.” She also revealed that she had teamed up with another hiker, Eric Seidel of San Francisco, and was clearly having the time of her life.

Sudduth and Seidel saw moose, deer, frogs, fluorescent orange salamanders, snakes, butterflies, moths, ducks and woodpeckers. They endured thick clouds of mosquitoes and biting black flies in New England, sometimes donning head nets as they hiked. Another hiker, Daniel Weber of Door County, Wisconsin, joined the pair in early August.

“The three of us were known as Boo-Boo and the Dancing Bears,” she recalled with a wide smile. “We had lots of 30-second dance breaks along the trail.”

The trio experienced many instances of “trail magic” together, finding, for instance, caches of food, water and even sodas left by unseen and unknown benefactors along the trail.

Together, on Sept. 19, they successfully completed what’s known as the Quad State Challenge — hiking a 47-mile trek from Pennsylvania’s southern border to Virginia’s northern border, across Maryland and West Virginia in less than 24 hours. Boo-Boo and the Dancing Bears set out at midnight, completing it 19 hours later.

The Quad State Challenge was the most physically demanding part of her hike, Sudduth said, but a bigger mental challenge followed: The time had come to bid farewell to the Dancing Bears.

Seidel left first, on Sept. 22, having hiked to the mid-way point at Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia. “He had originally planned to do a thru-hike,” Sudduth explains. But instead, “he got what he needed from the trail and got off.” Sudduth continued on with Weber until Oct. 22, when they reached Damascus, Virginia, where Weber — determined to keep his promise to his mother to be home for Thanksgiving — sped ahead.
“The hardest part of the whole experience was being alone, after having shared the terrain with two total strangers who had turned into such good friends,” Sudduth said. “After spending so much time together, we were able to communicate complicated thoughts almost without words. I missed their companionship.”
Over the course of the next three weeks, Sudduth continued alone through North Carolina and Tennessee. She reached her 2,000-mile marker on Nov. 13, in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
“Some people describe how thru-hikers get a ‘2,000-mile stare’ when they are just trying to get the miles done,” she wrote in her journal that day.

Her solution was to slow down and hike the final portion of the trail with her college friend Jason Peacock, the person who had told her about the Appalachian Trail so many years before. Peacock arrived in North Carolina on Nov. 19 to join her on the final 134 miles. With Peacock by Sudduth’s side, the journey had come full circle. They arrived at Springer Mountain in Georgia on Nov. 29, completing, at last, Sudduth’s long walk in the woods.

She had slept on the ground — and occasional hostel bunks — for five months. She had endured days of heat, rain, ice and even snow. She had lived on Swedish fish, Ramen noodles, Snickers bars and freeze-dried dinners. She had discovered that the blisters never really went away for good.
Would she ever consider another long trek into the wild-erness? “Absolutely,” she said with her trademark smile.
Sudduth has now returned to her job in the emergency department of Seattle’s University Medical Center. But she’s already talking about her next hike. This time, she’d like to conquer the Pacific Crest Trail, 500 miles longer than the trek she just completed.

RITBlake
01-14-2008, 19:17
did she post on TJ?

Almost There
01-14-2008, 20:19
Sudduth treks 2,175 miles

www.trailjournals.com/rebecca (http://www.trailjournals.com/rebecca). (The complete journal is still posted on the site.)



It's in the article! Learn to read!:D

RITBlake
01-15-2008, 12:44
It's in the article! Learn to read!:D

I'm at work, don't have time read all that, just gave it a skim, :datz :datz :datz but thanks for the link!!