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  • Writer's pictureChristine Reed

Giving Back on Trail

by Christine Reed - Division Manager - iConquerAdventures

iConquer Adventures leads hiking trips in partnership with non-profit organizations to raise funds for THEIR missions. But the trips we lead are about so much more than raising money. It is our mission to inspire and empower hikers of all abilities to take on a new challenge and to be a part of something bigger than themselves. This is something that resonates with me personally.

Conquering Grand Canyon with Autism Initiative of Mercyhurst
Conquering Grand Canyon with Autism Initiative of Mercyhurst

For me, hiking is about challenging myself physically and mentally and being part of something bigger than myself. It is impossible, when hiking somewhere like Grand Canyon, not to think about how small I really am and how vast and amazingly powerful this earth is. It is equally impossible to hike on a busy path and not smile at other hikers as they go by and, even without words, to feel part of a community-- a community of people sharing in the experience of something.

Each time we choose to challenge ourselves is it's own journey. For most, a hike in the Grand Canyon is a months long journey: to decide to travel to Arizona; engage in weeks of training, gear shopping and planning; and at last to arrive at the rim of the Canyon are all significant steps before ever setting foot on the trail. Much like running a marathon, the day of the event is the culmination of a greater journey, and serves as a moment of celebration for all the work that has been done.

Visiting Grand Canyon in the Snow
Visiting Grand Canyon in the snow

I think of every hike that I lead as another celebration of a journey. I am a cheerleader, a coach and a friend to each and every participant that has made the commitment to training, preparing and fundraising for their big day. I am so appreciative to be part of your personal journey. And I am also taking one more step in my personal journey-- from being someone who aspired to hike to someone that inspires others to hike.

I wasn't much of an outdoorsy kid-- I enjoyed reading, schoolwork, making pancakes, the occasional video game. Even in college, I got coaxed several times into hiking at the popular Pinnacle Mountain trail in Little Rock, Arkansas, and painstakingly dragged myself less than a mile to the top of a pile of rocks, wondering why anyone would want to do something so uncomfortable. But when I found inspiration, my whole life changed.

I had recently suffered a spinal injury when I first read about the Appalachian Trail. I didn't realize it then, but it would be the thing that catapulted me into a more active lifestyle and a healthier relationship with my body. I found that the hiking community was incredibly welcoming and accessible. You don't have to be fast, or skilled, or look good while you're doing it. You can still be a hiker.

3 of my biggest hiking challenges : Grand Canyon - Appalachian Trail - Mt Whitney

As someone that has made hiking and the hiking community such a big part of my life in the last 5 years, I am overjoyed to have the opportunity to meet more hikers, and to invite more people into the fold. Through these personal journeys, we can grow together and grow your causes.

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