The first day, 10 years ago

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Mom and I on top of the mountains in Colorado on the American Discovery Trail.

Ten years ago today my mom and I hiked our first 21.5 miles together on The American Discovery Trail after dipping our toes in the Atlantic Ocean. We were headed west towards the Pacific Ocean, over 4,600 miles away. On foot. Living out of our backpacks. And guess what? We frickin did it, too!

I can’t believe it’s been ten years since those first steps. Isn’t it crazy how fast time goes by sometimes? I prefer to not really think about it too hard. I start to feel rushed. Overwhelmed. There are so many more things I have yet to do. But for now, I guess, one at a time. Gotta keep sane somehow!

But everything has a start. This one’s a doozy. Years before those first steps I got really, really sick. Aplastic Anemia. Bone marrow failure. Ugly. I kinda almost died and stuff. But then I got better. And know what? I stayed better. Then I decided to do something big. Super big. I decided to go on my first thru hike. With my mom. All the way across America – the long way. First and foremost, to live big. But also to raise awareness for a disease that struck me, for no reason, that at the time hardly anyone had ever even heard of. Well, that had to change.

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I still have this bandana. It's thin and still has mom's on-trail stitches holding it together. One of my favorite things.

On February 4, 2006 my dad, Keith, and husband, Adam, saw us off on a cold morning in Delaware. Our first steps were on sand, then pavement, then trail, dirt, gravel, ice, snow, grass, leaves… We talked to people in small towns, big towns, along country roadways, to newspapers, radio stations, cameras and even Congress. We raised a bunch of research funds. We laughed, we cried, we suffered, we loved, we blistered and burned. We got too hot, too cold, too thirsty, and never got hungry. But only because we ate – a lot. Well, maybe we got hungry for burgers and milkshakes. There were sunrises, sunsets, stars, mountains, prairies, wheat fields, endless roadways, canyon mazes, pine forests, rain, hail, lightning, sun, wind, desert, and everything in between. It was a thru hike. It was my first, it wouldn’t be my last, and it was amazing. And it was the best beginning to more adventure than I could imagine. And still can’t. There’s that much more to come. It’s life, man.

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So, yup. The adventure of a lifetime. What a way to start. I still think about some part of that first hike every single day. There will be no way to ever repeat such a perfect experience, even though I oftentimes find myself wishing that were possible. I’ve come away with some pretty great memories and bring them up often. It will live on forever.

So, I guess, mission accomplished.

Happy trailversary to me and mom!

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Below is a link to my first journal entry from our first day. From there, if you want, you can read daily entries from the entire 9-month journey! Get comfy and grab some popcorn! Or wait for the book of stories that I swear WILL happen. Eventually!

February 4, 2006 – Day 1 on the ADT.

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Yes. This.

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Me, Hickory and mom above the clouds. Hickory was a hiking friend that joined us for a couple of weeks. Such fun memories!

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Sometimes you take what shade you can get. Life can be as simple as a culvert making you happy and comfortable.

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At the Pacific Ocean. We finished on October 28, 2006.

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Cheating? Nah...

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Tonight I love adventure. And whatever is next.

Thanks for reading and being a part of my journey!

With love,
Toots Magoots
(Robin Grapa)