Hiking the Appalachian Trail (AT) gives a person time to think.
Not just thoughts like "I must be crazy to hike the Appalachian Trail," but what you want to do with the rest of your life after you thru-hike, section-hike or wander on the trail for a few hours.
Back in the 70s, Billy Starr hiked the northernmost 400-mile section of the AT -- believed to be the toughest section by many enthusiasts. Whether you walk toward Mount Katahdin or go southbound, you'll understand the meaning of "the 100-Mile Wilderness" before you're done. You have to be part mountain goat and part duck to traverse the hills, valleys and swamps.
Endurance requires perseverance and commitment. It's the same for hiking, marriage, character, artistry, learning and any other worthy goals.
For Billy Starr, the pondering boiled down to the mantra: "To reap the rewards, you have to do the work."
That led to the nation's original fundraising bike-a-thon for charity, the Pan-Massachusetts Challenge (PMC). More than three decades later, the PMC draws 5,500 cyclists from 36 states and eight countries who ride to raise money for charity.
The 2012 PMC begins on Friday, August 3, 2012 and rides through Sunday, August 5th.
The PMC raises more money than any other athletic fundraising event in the country. It generates half of the Jimmy Fund's annual revenue and it is Dana-Farber's single largest contributor. Over the past 32 years, PMC cyclists have ridden to raise and contributed $338 million to cancer research.
Not a bad harvest for an idea concocted in the woods.
One long-time participant of the PMC, Bill Finan, of Ayer, MA, writes on his fund-raising web page, "Since I've been associated with and riding in the Pan-Mass Challenge, I wake up every morning knowing I am contributing to an event that literally saves people's lives."
When you hike the AT, we hope you'll enjoy the walk.
Be in the present. Rock your hike.
Take time to think of the future too. You'll have a lot of it.
Make it count ... for yourself and others.
You might be the inspiration for thousands of other Bill Finans in the decades to come.
Tags: Events, Tourism, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Appalachian Trail, News, and Festivals
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