You can totally do that!
Those are the words every human longs to hear when they are contemplating a personal challenge that is outside their comfort zone. Those were the exact words Towne Lake resident Cari Kilgore heard from her husband that gave her the encouragement she needed to set a goal to hike 100 miles in June on the historic Appalachian Trail. Cari is a busy mother of three who, like many women, has made a habit of setting aside her personal aspirations to spend the majority of her time meeting the needs of her family.
Two years ago, Cari supported her husband and son when they climbed Mount Kilimanjaro with Acworth-based International Sports Federation (ISF). Now it is her turn. Cari heard about a new division of ISF called the Wilderness Initiative, designed specifically to help people challenge themselves through outdoor adventures. When she saw a 100-mile trip for women, she knew she wanted to do it. The trip is specifically designed for women in their 40s and 50s with little or no backpacking experience.
After recently celebrating her 40th birthday, Cari set some specific goals to live a more fit and adventurous lifestyle. This Wilderness Initiative trip was just what she needed. The trip is in June, so now Cari has a deadline and purpose for her training. She is not walking a mile or two here and there as she can fit it into her schedule; she has a calendar with a training schedule, a detailed packing list, expert gear advice and everything she needs to be successful on her adventure.
The director of Wilderness Initiative (WI), Anne Tuttle, is an expert long distance hiker having through-hiked the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail and the Continental Divide Trail. According to Tuttle, “The sole purpose of WI is to allow people from all walks of life to enjoy a challenging experience away from the rigors of everyday life. Explorers will be challenged in many respects, including mental toughness, physical strength, bravery and trust.”
The leader of the expedition is 51-year-old Cheryl Wolfinger from Woodstock, who is also one of Cari’s biggest supporters. “Cari was the first person to sign up for the trip and I could not be more excited for her. I know this trip is going to be a tremendous challenge for Cari and a couple others on the trip who have never been backpacking or even camped,” Wolfinger said. “We want people who have maybe secretly desired to do something like this, to know we are here and ready to help them make some amazing memories in the great outdoors!”
Wilderness Initiative offers expeditions and educational opportunities for people of all skill levels and ages. You can learn more at www.wildernessinitiative.com or email email@example.com.
“2016 did not go the way I thought it would. I had big plans and even bigger goals for myself. But as life sometimes does, it got a little ugly, and come spring all of my plans were suddenly derailed. I found myself looking in the mirror on my 40th birthday thinking, ‘How did I let this happen? I was doing so well.’ I blinked and the new year was here and I was still feeling defeated and frustrated. I started spending time alone, asking myself what I wanted the next 40 years of my life to look like. I had no idea. And then on March 2, I got my answer. I saw Cheryl’s post on social media about a 13-day, 100-mile hike along a section of the Appalachian Trail, and I felt a twinge in my spirit. I shared it with my husband and he immediately told me I should do it. I made a decision that day to no longer allow fear or self-doubt to keep me from experiencing all that life has to offer. I tell my kids that we can do anything we set our minds to! It’s time I start believing that for myself. I have less than 100 days until I leave, so I’ve made some major dietary changes and I’m doing lots of walking! My family and friends are encouraging me as I prepare and what a boost that has been. I know I couldn’t do this without their support.” – Cari Kilgore