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Surviving the Appalachian Trail

| June 5, 2013
Three local residents, pictured here, traveled to Harper’s Fairy, VA to start their Appalachian Trail hike journey. From l-r: Sharon Revennaugh, Nancy Dillion, and Bob Fritz.

Three local residents, pictured here, traveled to Harper’s Fairy, VA to start their Appalachian Trail hike journey. From l-r: Sharon Revennaugh, Nancy Dillion, and Bob Fritz.

COSHOCTON – Walking the Appalachian Trail has long been a dream of Nancy Dillion ever since she saw a trail sign while on a field trip with her kids. Last July, Dillion started hiking with her friend, Sharon Revennaugh, and the two of them decided to tackle a section of the trail together this summer with another hiking friend, Bob Fritz.

“Ever since I was a child, I loved being outdoors,” said Revennaugh. “I thank Nancy for the inspiration she had that became my inspiration, too, and it was going to be an experiment for me to see whether or not I could do it.”

Dillion is an avid runner and has run marathons in all 50 states. She originally wanted to hike the entire 2,180 miles of the trail, but eventually, Revennaugh talked her into doing only a section of the trail. Her next goal is to do a solo hike, which she plans to accomplish in the next couple of weeks.

“Our ultimate goal would be to hike the entire 2,180 miles,” said Revennaugh.

The three started at Harper’s Fairy, WV, which is almost the middle of the trail, and ended at Front Royal, VA five days later, camping out in the wilderness. With a total of 54 miles, Revennaugh, Fritz, and Dillion hiked through rocks, boulders, weeds taller than themselves, all while carrying 25 – 35 pounds of supplies on their backs. Fritz helped the two realize how to travel light.

“Bob Fritz is such an experienced hiker and he’s helped us so much,” said Dillion. “We call him our trail buddy.”

The friends tried to carry only what was essential for their survival on the hike, cutting the handle off of their toothbrushes and taking the deodorant out of its container. Both agreed that hikers need to weigh everything before they pack it and always evaluate what they didn’t use after a hike so they know not to pack it again.

To help train their bodies for this incredible journey, Revennaugh and Dillion started walking around the Coshocton County area as well as state parks. During their hikes, they would carry a backpack with 10 pounds of flour inside to help them endure hiking with their equipment and supplies.

While hiking the Appalachian Trail, they were often forced to not only carry their supplies, but their trash as well, all while actively on the lookout for snakes, bears, and other wildlife, especially ticks, which can carry lyme disease.

With all of these obstacles for the three to overcome, Revennaugh had yet another personal obstacle to contend with, but didn’t let that stop her from making it to her goals. In December, 2012, she was diagnosed with cancer, and considers the Appalachian Trail her victory hike.

“When your body’s been through something like that, you never know how your body is going to react,” she said.

But Dillion believes that because Revennaugh was in such good shape due to all of her hiking that it actually helped her fight off the disease.

“As the week went on, it seemed to me that she was feeling better and better day by day and looking healthier,” Dillion said.

Revennaugh couldn’t agree more.

“I feel like getting back to hiking has continued to accelerate the healing process,” she said.

During the hike, the three travelers would take regular breaks and would stop occasionally to eat light, healthy meals and drink plenty of water. Luckily, most of the hike was in the woods and in shaded areas so the heat wasn’t too extreme.

“We like that it’s something we can do to stay active as we approach our older years,” said Dillion. “We’ve also seen such cool things and met some very nice people.”

“It’s incredible to see the creation God has made in its pure setting,” said Revennaugh. “You’re in the world of the woods. To be a part of that world and to make yourself aware of the reality of life, to make yourself aware of just living in the woods.”

The two agreed that hiking through the woods with only what is essential to your survival strapped to your back, makes you appreciate the little things in life, like a hot shower and clean clothes. It also makes you stop and take time to notice other people around you.

“You see the best of humanity,” said Dillion. “People are always willing to help you.”

Revennaugh and Dillion suggest that for those who want to start hiking, start walking on a regular basis to build up endurance, and do research on where to hike.

“I’m so thankful at this stage of my life to be entering a new phase of my life,” said Revennaugh.

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Category: People & Places

About the Author ()

I have been employed at the Coshocton County Beacon since September 2009 as a news reporter and assistant graphic artist. I am a 2004 graduate of Newcomerstown High School and a 2008 graduate of Capital University with a bachelor’s degree in Professional Writing. I am married to John Scott and live in Newcomerstown. We have two beautiful daughters, Amelia Grace Scott and Leanna Rose Scott.

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