It's official! I bought myself a one-way ticket to Georgia and will begin hiking the entire Appalachian Trail starting April 7th! You might be wondering why I am giving up the comforts of home to live in the woods for four months. Ten years ago, I would rather have permanent Cheetos fingers than hike a mountain, never mind dozens of mountains consecutively. Now, here I am, months away from hiking 2,180 miles. I blame my family. Hiking as much as we did, I was basically forced to love the mountains. And I couldn't be more grateful.
Meet the family
As the sister born between two brothers, I naturally became a very competitive, outdoorsy girl. I quit Girl Scouts in the fifth grade because I wanted to go on the exciting camping trips that my brothers enjoyed rather than learning how to sew pillows and make jewelry (it was 2Ksomething at this point- catch up, society). Fortunately, my parents are about as adventurous at they get. Meet Greg: Scout Master, ecosystem expert, bird watching enthusiast. I mean, seriously, how could I not love the nature living under the same roof as this guy?
And this is Grace- the most fierce, fun mama out there. She is the mastermind behind all Chmura family adventures and happens to also run the world on the side.
My first hikes
I was ten years old when we hiked our first big mountain together. We trekked up Tuckerman Ravine to Mount Washington (6,289 ft.). Let me tell you, it was not love at first sight for me and the mountains. In fact, I cried most of the way up. I was so pissed my parents made me climb this "stupid rock to look at other stupid rocks from the top". Nevertheless, I remember feeling extremely proud upon reaching the summit of the tallest mountain in the North East. I was also shocked to learn that there was a train that people could ride up that my parents neglected to tell me about!
Several years later we hiked Mount Jefferson (5,712 ft.), the third highest peak in the North East. No, I still didn't love the mountains. Yes, I whined most of the way up. In my defense, there were like eight false peaks. You can't just lead a tired girl on like that! There was a point that I begged my parents to leave me behind and find me on their way back down. I'm honestly surprised they didn't take me up on that offer with the attitude I was copping. Only a few tears and a few "soul-piercing glares" at my parents later, I made it out alive. I detest my pre-teen self for being such a brat during hikes that would become hugely influential in my life.
Families that hike together, stay together
The next decade was filled with lots of Chmura family adventures all over the country. I couldn't be more thankful that my family consistently hiked together. I eventually began to appreciate the mountains for the dynamic challenges they present and their breathtaking beauty. Most significantly, I hike for the euphoric feeling you get at the top of a mountain: an alluring mixture of excited, empowered, proud, and at peace.
Our most recent family hike was up Puig de Massanella (4,475 ft.) on the Spanish island of Mallorca. No tears were shed, people! I love being in the mountains and am counting down the days until I begin my journey on the Appalachian Trail. And you can bet my family will be summiting a few peaks with me.