On March 28, 2014, Stuart resident Elaine “Cadi” Cadigan Zumsteg began her Appalachian Trail thru hike. According to Cadi: “Having no backpacking experience, this adventure was truly out of my comfort zone. It was a real challenge for this 56 year old woman. I began my journey alone, but I was fortunate to meet Hobo Nobo, a 54 year old woman from Maine, in early May on the border between Tennessee and North Carolina.
Hobo and I summit Mt. Katahdin on September 30, 2014. We were proud to join the elite Appalachian Trail – Class of 2014!”
What makes the outdoors a compelling place to be?
Cadi: It’s time just for me. When I’m outdoors, I feel free, like a little kid again. Responsibilities seem to roll off my back. And my mood lifts.
Hobo: When I’m outdoors, I marvel at the beauty and simplicity of it all.
A place or interaction on the trail that made a major impression on you
Cadi: Hobo and I can’t agree on the woman’s name but we both vividly remembered her. While in NY, we had been walking for many days without seeing anyone. And then we met her. She was in her early 80s and was out day hiking alone. She was being safe: she had her whistle, phone, hiking poles, map, first aid equipment, and enough water. She told us her brother wasn’t happy she was still out there hiking at her age. But she was thrilled. She had a boyfriend 10 years younger than herself and she was loving life. Both Hobo and I decided right there that we wanted to grow up and be THAT woman!
A memorable challenge you dealt with on a hike
Cadi: I’m athletic: I run marathons, lift weights, practice yoga, and play golf and competitive tennis. But hiking…I was usually the slowest one out there. It’s very humbling to experience being the weakest link. I was always the last one to pitch my tent, the last one to finish cooking and the last one to settle in for the night. It was an adjustment, but one I’m glad to have experienced.
Hobo: An abscessed tonsil knocked me off the trail in Waynesboro, VA. It was a reality check, a physical ailment that I could not control. It had to take its course and I had to regroup. Only a few weeks after summiting, I returned to the Shenandoahs to complete the miles I missed in order to call myself a 2014 thru hiker. During my AT preparations, it had not occurred to me that I would face a situation like this. It was tough but I had to move on! What was incredible was the support of the other thru hikers in our hiking bubble. Those words of encouragement kept me going and focused.
How have you helped other women get outdoors?
Cadi: I gave an AT presentation to the Retired Nurses of Martin County, Florida. They were all ready to get moving by the end of the talk. And some said that I spurred them on to try something out of their comfort zone, like kayaking or a rafting trip. Hobo and I have met and corresponded with several women who are interested in doing their own thru hike and needed help with gear choices. Many women who followed us on my Trail Journal blog commented that Hobo and I were amazing and that we have inspired them to accomplish their dreams.
Read about their adventures at www.trailjournals.com/atcadi2014