Turning 60 years old is one of those milestone birthdays that some women choose to ignore. Not Brenda Conklin. The Waterville Valley, NH resident decided to celebrate turning 60 by hiking the Appalachian Trail. Thankfully for couch potatoes like me, Brenda brought us along on her AT adventure by sending periodic email updates with accompanying photographs.
Well, Brenda did it! Congratulations to Leadfoot (Brenda’s AT trail name) for completing the 2,181 mile odyssey on June 20, 2012. Brenda is now a “2000 Miler,” a designation that the Appalachian Trail Conservancy gives to anyone who completes the entire trail. As of 2010, more than 11,000 people had reported completing the entire trail. About three-quarters of these are thru-hikers, the rest are like Brenda – section hikers.
On July 2, 2012, Brenda sent me an email:
My Appalachian Trail journey ended by:
- finishing on what would have been my father’s 100th birthday June 20, 2012
- having Preston and my sister, Bonnie, with me
- completing my birthday gift to myself while I was still age 61
We celebrated for a week:
- Stone Mountain, GA (the amazing southern Mt. Rushmore near Atlanta featuring Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Stonewall Jackson carved on horseback)
- re-hiking (in great sunshine) around Clingman Dome in the Smokies near Gatlinburg and Mt. Rogers (highest in VA). The weather had been bad on our first pass.
- Winston Link Steam Train Photo Exhibit and Transportation Museum in Roanoke, VA
- friends in Marion, VA, Knoxville, TN, Pinehurst, NC, and Bethlehem, CT
Now to get back to reality, Leadfoot