Training Hike #10

Treadmill. Chesapeake, VA. 6 miles and 2500 feet of elevation gain.

The last training hike was dialed back in miles and elevation gain required, so I “hiked” on the treadmill at Greenbrier Country Club where I teach fitness classes.

The hike wasn’t as pretty as last week, but it was as purposeful. This Thursday, August 13, I’ll hike 22 miles through the Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho to raise money to free women and children from sexual exploitation and give them hope, health, safety, and a future.

I’d love for you to join Team Freedom if you haven’t already. Please consider donating. No amount is too small. Every little bit adds up.

Special thanks, as always, to my amazing business sponsors:

This week’s hike sponsors and other generous donors are:

  • Monica Robinson
  • Marylou Rabadan
  • Becca Davis
  • Anna Harris
  • Stef Kight
  • Sara Sheahan
  • Zac Schoefield
  • Madi Wasko
  • Craig and Joliene
  • Taylor Wasko
  • Hannah Weber

Training Hike #9

Crabtree Fall to Priest Shelter to Crabtree Falls to Crabtree Falls. 15 miles and 4000 feet of elevation gain.

After photographing a wedding in Williamsburg on Saturday evening, Brian and I headed to Charlottesville to spend the night so we could get an early-ish start on the longest of the ten training hikes.

We arrived at the Crabtree Falls trailhead around 8:30 and were surprised to find the parking lot almost empty. I had never hiked Crabtree Falls, and now that I have, I’d definitely do it again.

The first part of the hike was pretty steep. 1.7 miles to the top and about 1,000 feet of elevation gain. The path is well-maintained, rocky in spots, but gorgeous. It’s almost all shaded and there are several sections with steps and rails.

From the top of the Crabtree Falls train, we hiked part of the Appalachian Trail to Priest Shelter. Not a big fan of this one. It was steep, which we needed, but overgrown in parts and no view from the top. (Apparently there is one, but you need to go off trail about .25 miles to see it, and we didn’t realize this till we were on the way back to Crabtree Falls.)

We had a little adventure on our way down. Just a few hundred feet from the Priest Shelter, four grad students from UVA caught up to us. I was in the front of the pack and came within about a foot of a copperhead snake lying across the middle of the narrow, grass-lined trail. I stopped. We all backed up and weren’t quite sure what to do. I decided I didn’t want to be in front anymore, so Brian came to the front of the line.

He decided it would be a good idea to try to get the snake off the path by throwing rocks at it. All that did was get the snake mad. It didn’t budge. He pulled a seven-foot week from the side of the trail and pushed and prodded it until it slithered off the trail. Problem was, we had NO idea how far off the trail it went. Brian threw the large week in the direction the snake headed to see if it would reemerge. Nothing.

The six of us decided we should make a run for it. We stood close together. As one grad student remarked, “COVID is not the most eminent danger to us right now.” We counted three, took off running, and jumped over the section of the path where the snake made its exit. All ended well. We had a brief conversation with the UVA posse and continued down the trail.

Like most hikes around here, I needed to repeat a few sections to get the elevation I needed. We decided we did NOT want to go back up to Priest Shelter so we opted to rehike beautiful Crabtree Falls 2 1/2 more times. I’d make the same decision again.

Since the weather turned out beautiful, the trail was packed when we got back to the beginning of Crabtree Falls for rounds two and three.

When you rehike trails, people notice and often comment. I was able to give out about ten of my hiking business cards and had some wonderful conversations with folks on the trail.

Gaby, one of the UVA grad students, donated toward my Freedom Hike as did a sweet couple, Mary and Brian. Thank you! It’s encouraging and affirming to experience the generosity of so many strangers and unite with people you just met to fight human trafficking.

Thank you again to my business sponsors:

Here’s everyone who was part of Team Freedom this week. They either sponsored my hike at $1 per mile or donated in other ways. Thank you for being part of someone’s freedom story!

  • Kala Herman–she’s donating the proceeds from her Beauty Counter chapstick sales to Rescue Freedom
  • Kerri Wasko
  • Kelsey Jones
  • Mary and Brian–we met them on the hike!
  • Gaby–UVA grad student we escaped the snake with. GO HOOS!
  • Jeena Anderson
  • Nicole Anderson–one of my hike leaders from last year
  • Katie Demski
  • Vaneetha and Joel Risner
  • Rebekah Hewitt
  • Nick Hughes
  • Jeannie DeSena
  • Chelsea Burge

Training Hike #8

Old Rag is one of my favorite hikes. I love the rock scramble, and the 360 degree view is like no other in the Shenandoah National Park. It’s a beautiful and challenging climb and worth the effort.

Like most of the other hikes, one trip wasn’t enough to fulfill this hike’s requirements: 14 miles and 3800 feet of elevation gain. We did the Old Rag loop and then re-hiked another two miles to the first false summit to hit the elevation needed.

We saw a deer and two snakes: a copperhead and black snake. The weather was hot and sunny, but the shady trail made the trek comfortable.

When we finished the hike, I was .2 miles shy of 14 so I walked around the parking lot while headed for the car. I’m pretty legalistic when it comes to hitting the numbers I need for each hike. Some people in my family mock me for it. Well, on my little .2 mile walk, I found a $20 on the bridge between the parking areas. I took it as an anonymous donation. One of my hiking friends commented that money seems “to fall from the sky” sometimes. And it does. My obsession with doing “all” the training brought another $20 to free a woman form exploitation. So glad I didn’t tag out at 13.8 miles.

As is our tradition, we had gourmet burgers and fries for our post-hike meal. This week we went back to Beauvine Burger Concept in Richmond. DELICIOUS!

MANY THANKS to my business sponsors. (If you’re interested in being a business sponsor, check out the link on this blog and text or give me a call.)

In addition to my business sponsors, big thanks to the following folks for your donations this week:

  • Daniel Kelly
  • Meg Ortel
  • Rebekah Judd
  • Rachel Donnell
  • Laura and Stephen Williams
  • Heather Hughes
  • Renee Fairchild
  • Shawn Stratmann
  • Rose and Sally

Special shout out to Jennifer Napier who has lost 120 pounds and donated $1 per pound to pay it forward. Amazing! Thank you for using your victory to help others, Jennifer!

Another special thanks to Krista who I met on the trail at Mary’s Rocks. She recently got married and moved to Montana and donated $225 this week!

And to the person who dropped the $20 bill on the bridge. Your loss has been put to a good use. It’s going toward someone’s freedom and future! Thank you!

This week is the last BIG training hike…15 miles and 4000 feet elevation gain. The last hike is only six miles and 2500 feet. I fly to Idaho on August 9 and hike on August 13.

I am so thankful to everyone who has supported, prayed for, and encouraged me. We are close to meeting out goal of $10,000 which will FREE FIVE women!

Training Hike #7

Shenandoah National Park: Cedar Run to Hawksbill to the AT to White Oak Canyon. This is one of the most gorgeous hikes I’ve done on the east coast. One reviewer I read said it was “the best of the SNP.” Trees, streams, swimming holes, a view, and waterfalls.

We hiked clockwise beginning with Cedar Run. The trail is surrounded by gorgeous trees and water the whole way up, up, up. The lush foliage and gurgling sound of the water almost made us forget the climb.

Once we got to the top of Cedar Run, we continued up, up, up to Hawksbill. The view from the summit is spectacular, especially on a beautiful, blue-sky day. There really is nothing like the Blue Ridge.

From Hawksbill we hiked along a portion of the Appalachian Trail where we saw three deer who didn’t mind sharing the trail with us and hardly moved when we walked by. The AT took us to the top of White Oak Canyon where the descent was fairly steep but provided the beauty of one waterfall after another. We stopped at the second fall for a snack–my favorite: dried mango.

About a mile from the end of the hike, I fell. It was lovely…and embarrassing. My pole got caught in a rocky section, and I did a slo-mo fall to my arm, then leg, and then my head hit a rock. Thankfully, I fell slowly and wasn’t on a steep downhill portion. I made it out with only a small bruise on my right thigh.

Honestly, I was discouraged and scared, and I cried. And not because I was hurting physically.

Have you ever felt like just when you start to build confidence and feel good about something, you get your feet knocked out from under you? That’s how I felt, not just because that’s what literally happened, but that fall made me start questioning my ability. I thought things like, “What are you doing? You’re too old to be out here? What makes you think you can hike?”

I quietly wept as I walked the rest of the way down the trail. And I realized that giving up isn’t an option. My little fall (and self-pity) is nothing compared to the pain and suffering of millions of women and children who are caught in human trafficking. They need help. They need hope. They need a future. SO, I’ll be back out on the trail again this weekend. 14 miles and 3800 feet of elevation gain. For FREEDOM.

HUGE Thank You to Hike #7 sponsors and other generous donors

  • Tull Financial Group is a business sponsor
  • Two anonymous donations totaling $150
  • Jeremy Parker
  • Greg Gutzler
  • Kimberly Sienkiewicz
  • Sara Kilgore
  • Hayley Esteves
  • Kara Richards
  • Diana Dersch
  • Kate and Sean Thomas
  • Daniel Kelly
  • Lisa Lantrip
  • Robin Prehn

Training Hike #6

I’m six hikes into a ten hike training program that will prepare me for a 23-mile, one-day endurance hike on August 13 in the Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho. I’ll hike with a team of Freedom Hikers raising money to support Rescue: Freedom International in their fight against human trafficking. There are a lot of great organizations in the fight to end sexual exploitation and modern day slavery. Here are a few reasons I love Rescue: Freedom International:

  • 100% of administrative costs are covered by private donors so
  • 100% of YOUR donation goes right to the women and children being helped
  • They work with local partners who are already invested in their communities. These local partners have relationships with medical, legal, vocational, and educational resources so there’s a place for the rescued women and children to grow and thrive.
  • $2,000 provides for the rescue and one year of restorative, holistic care for a woman or child

Training Hike #6 was beautiful. I needed to hike nine miles with a 3200 feet elevation gain. Brian and I hiked Raven Rocks just outside of Bluemont. It’s nicknamed The Rollercoaster because it’s up and down the whole way even though it’s an out and back hike. We needed to hike it twice to get the mileage and elevation we needed, but it was such a great hike, it was no trouble to do it twice.

Most of the trail is shaded. There are quite a few rocks and a couple of very small rock scramble-type crossings, but nothing too difficult. The view is gorgeous! There are four spots at the top to enjoy the valley below. Raven Rocks is in both Virginia and West Virginia, so we hiked in two states on one day.

On our first trip up the mountain, we met two men who were training to hike to the base camp in Nepal. One of them went to UVA–GO HOOS! We had fun conversation about Virginia sports, hiking, and our kids. I gave both men one of my fundraising business cards, and today they donated $50 to Rescue Freedom!

Shout out to Brian for doing all these training hikes with me, for driving, and being OK with my obsessive, 3-ish need to make every hike a competition.

HUGE thanks to everyone who sponsored this week’s hike and made other donations:

  • Ryan Hughes
  • Selina Dominguez
  • Marissa Fernandez
  • Daniel Kelly
  • Samantha Libasci
  • Robyn Morehead
  • Terry Iley
  • Janet Zitt
  • Holly McGuire
  • Christy Powell
  • Alexis Williams
  • Gabbi Schoenrock
  • Abbey Crabb
  • Diana Dersch
  • Ajay and Henry (new hiking friends we met on the trail)
  • $100 anonymous donation!!

How about you? Would you like to join the fight to end modern day slavery? You can use the button below to donate.

Training Hike #5

Brian and I got to meet and hike with Brianna, another Team Idaho Freedom Hiker, this week. We met outside of Sperryville to hike the Fridley Gap Trail. This week’s training required we hike 8 miles and get 2700 feet of elevation gain.

We ended up hiking 9.7 miles, but that’s what happens when you use east coast mountains to train for a west coast hike. =)

Fridley Gap was nice. Pretty trees, creeks, and rocks. The trail was easy to follow but overgrown in spots. The only disappointment was that there was no view. It was the perfect trail to meet our training goals, but I don’t think I’d choose it just to hike.

I loved getting to know Brianna. We’re the only two east coast hikers on the Idaho Freedom Hike. We discovered we have many mutual friends, and we share convictions about social justice issues, too. We want to see human trafficking end. We are committed to speak up on behalf of our Black brothers and sisters who have endured systemic racism and prejudice. We also love to read and hike. And, we both love chocolate.

Training hike #6 will be this Saturday, July 11. I need to hike 9 miles and get 3200 feet of elevation gain. I’ll be hiking Raven Rocks–twice.

I’m 69% of the way to my goal of $10,000. If I reach my goal, five women or children will be rescued and provided with a year of holistic, restorative care. Five people will be given hope, health, help, and a future. Five generations will be set on a new path.

Thanks to this week’s Freedom Team for sponsoring hike #5:

You can help by donating. No amount is too small. You can participate in the weekly training hike $1 per mile pledges or donate using the button below.

Training Hike #4

On August 13, I’ll be hiking 23 miles in one day through the Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho to raise money to fight human trafficking. Before the hike, I’m required to complete ten training hikes to prepare for the endurance hike. This blog chronicles my training and fundraising efforts.

The Freedom Hike I’m doing supports Rescue: Freedom International. Every $2000 raised will free a woman or child from sex slavery and provide them with a year of holistic, restorative care. Last year my daughter, Stef, and I raised $14,000. Seven futures were changed. This year my goal is $10,000. Please consider donating and becoming part of someone’s freedom story.

You can make donations through my donation link or Venmo me. No amount is too small. Whatever you give will be greatly appreciated. The button at the bottom of this post will take you to the donation page.

One thing I’m doing each week is recruiting ten people to sponsor me $1 per mile for that week’s hike. I’ll be posting in my Instagram stories and Facebook, too. AND, because all of Rescue Freedom’s administrative costs are covered by private donors, 100% of your donation goes right to the women and children being helped.

Now, about this week’s training hike:

Mary’s Rock in the Shenandoah National Park is a great hike with a great view. In order to meet the training criteria for hike #4, I needed to hike it twice.

Mary’s Rock is a 3.4 mile out and back hike with between 1130-1220 feet of elevation gain, depending on what you look at–my watch or All Trails. The path is clear and well-maintained, but it is rocky. The trail was pretty busy on Saturday, and we met many kind and friendly hikers.

The mountain laurels were blooming, and we had a clear, blue sky. This was one of the best training hikes I’ve done. I’m very thankful we had such amazing weather, especially after the torrential downpour last week.

After the hike, my husband, Brian, and I ate some delicious burgers in Richmond at Beauvine Burger Concept. If you’re looking for a great burger and delicious sweet potato fries, look no further. Great service. Great food. Great way to end a hike.

Huge thank you to Coleman Senecal Art for sponsoring training hike #4. She took all ten spots for the $1 per mile pledge this week! Please be sure to check out her art; it’s amazing. I have a few pieces she created for me before she officially started a business and they’re even better in person that the images on her Instagram!

Training Hike #3

On Juneteenth, my husband and I drove to Richmond to pick up our daughter, Taylor, at the airport. From there we got take-out from Croakers Spot to celebrate Juneteenth. That was some delicious food! Be sure to check them out if you’re ever in Richmond or Norfolk.

After eating dinner, we drove to Waynesboro to spend the night. Hike #3 was on Saturday at Hanging Rock near Lyndhurst.

I loved this hike. The weather wasn’t always great, but the trail was well-maintained and it was gorgeous. It was sunny, cloudy, foggy, and poured during our hike. Though we couldn’t see the view we were hoping, it was incredible to summit the mountain and be in a cloud. It was beautiful in a way I hadn’t expected.

We made a new canine friend on the way down the mountain. He followed us to the car and was especially fond of Taylor. We orginially named him Ralph but quickly changed it to Buddy.

After the hike we made our way to Charlottesville for some Mellow Mushroom pizza and a walk around the U.

HUGE thank you to the awesome folks who sponsored this week’s hike and who donated to Rescue Freedom! Freedom Team 20 is amazing!

  • Eric & Marie Hughes
  • Heather Hughes
  • Sarah Hughes
  • Garret Cagle
  • Matt Hughes
  • Sarah Cruz
  • Rachel Hughes
  • Ryan Hughes
  • Micaela Crawford
  • Chelsea Burge
  • Paulina Lorenc
  • the Alkires
  • Ashley Barton

Next week’s hike is six miles and 2500 feet of elevation gain. I’ll be looking for ten people to sponsor me $1 per mile next week, too! Thanks for your support, encouragement, and prayers.

Training Hike #2

I’m doing what I love to fight what I hate.

On August 13, I’ll hike 23 miles in one day to raise money to fight human trafficking. In preparation for that hike, I’ll be doing ten official training hikes, and I’ll blog about them here.

I’m recruiting people to join my Freedom Team 20. All you need to do is make a donation–no amount is too small.

I recruited people to sponsor me $1 per mile for my training hike this week. Don’t worry if you missed out. I’ll be asking for sponsors for the rest of my hikes, so you have eight more opportunities to join Freedom Team 20! Next week’s hike will be five miles. Will you consider sponsoring Training Hike #3 for $1 per mile? You can click the button below to donate.

There are many excellent organizations that fight sexual slavery. Here are a few reasons I chose Rescue: Freedom:

  • All administrative costs are covered by private donors.
  • 100% of fundraising money goes to providing for the needs of the women and children who are rescued.
  • Rescue Freedom works with “local partners” who are committed to ending slavery in their communities.
  • $2,000 rescues a woman or child and provides a year of restorative, holistic care to them.
  • They focus on prevention in addition to rescue and restoration.

Training hike #2 required five miles, 1200 feet of elevation gain, and 100 minutes on my feet. Back to Mt. Trashmore I went…this time with Stef, Brian, and Laura. I was thankful for an unseasonably mild and cool Virginia Beach day. Good conversation and a sweet breeze made for a pretty easy hike.

I’d like to thank these Freedom Team 20 members for sponsoring Training Hike #2:

  • Heather Hughes
  • Kerri Wasko
  • Madison Wasko
  • Stef and Kody Kight
  • Taylor Wasko
  • Kelsey Jones
  • Savanna Goosens
  • Reed Rickards
  • Sara Anderson
  • Diamond Lepre (soon to be Jones!!!!!)
  • Sally Payne
  • Lindsay Walton

Thanks to these amazing people, we raised $75 on Saturday!

In addition to the people who sponsored Hike #2, I want to thank all my Freedom Team 20 members for their generous donations, encouragement, and support.

  • Ann and Frank Mohap
  • Helen and Rich Wasko
  • Becky and Tommy Johnson
  • Jennifer and Edward Dunbar
  • Chris and Celeste Futrell
  • Eric and Marie Hughes
  • WriteAtHome.com
  • Melanie Wasko Photography
  • the Greenbrier Country Club 6:30 AM aerobics class
  • Cheryl Marie
  • John and Corrie
  • Ruth Manlove
  • Diana Dersch
  • Flurry Yanez
  • Emma Hare
  • Jim and Leslie Alkire
  • Sandy and Martha Napier
  • Anna Deck
  • Rebekah Hewitt
  • Rubylee Gardner
  • Noelle Hill
  • Corey Jones
  • the Leedom Family
  • Renee Fairchild
  • the Ruhl Family
  • Mike and Jennifer Napier and family
  • Ashley Barton
  • Rebekah Judd
  • Kala and David Herman (Walker, too!)
  • Bethany and Jeremy Wright (Theodore, too!)
  • the Smith Family
  • Barbara Taylor and family
  • the Seligman Family
  • Wilonda Spratley
  • the Harris Family
  • the Rogers Family
  • Vaneetha and Joel Risner
  • Katie Princess and her sweet roomies
  • the Roberti Family
  • Keith and Lora Kight
  • Stacey Askew
  • the Frederick Family
  • Merri Bryant
  • Katherine Steiger
  • Kevin and Carole Regan
  • Annie Johns
  • AND anonymous donations totaling: $575!

We have raised $6587 so far and are at 66% of our goal! THANK YOU!

My Freedom Hike 20 goal is to raise $10,000 which will free FIVE women from human trafficking and provide them with a year of holistic care. I can’t do it alone, but together we can.

Click HERE to learn more about Rescue Freedom, and click HERE to read about last year’s training and Freedom Hike.

Freedom Hike 2020, Training Hike #1

Training hike #1 needed to be three miles and 1,000 feet elevation gain. When you live in Virginia Beach, that elevation is easier said than done. Last year, I “hiked” the Jordan Bridge and walked nearly eight miles and still came up short on elevation.

This year, I chose to hike Mt. Trashmore for hike #1. For those of you unfamiliar with this unusual Virginia Beach park, the “mountain” is indeed made of trash, and it’s the steepest thing we’ve got in Hampton Roads.

I met a few friends at the park at 7:30 on Thursday morning, and we did some social distancing training together.

To get the 1,000 feet I needed, I had to hike up the steepest side, down the opposite side, and then back up to the top TWELVE and a half times. My friend, Sally, insists I misled her when I told her twelve; she says it was 24. But I don’t think she was paying attention whenI explained what counted as “one.” =)

I’ll be hiking Mt. Trashmore again this week for hike #2–five miles and 1, 200 feet. Anyone want to join me?

Starting this week, I’m going to ask ten people to sponsor me $1 per mile during training hikes. I’ll be posting on my blog, Instagram and Facebook stories. (Stef did this last year. I’m borrowing her brilliance.)

If you’d like to donate $5 to sponsor this week’s five mile hike, click the link below or Venmo me. If you donate on my fundraising page, let me know who you are and that you’re sponsoring training hike #2.

Let’s work together to end slavery.

Thanks Cliff, Debbie, and Cathy. Rain or shine, we always whine!
Thanks Sally!