Perhaps the only recorded instance of performing at a belly dance fundraiser mid thru-hike on a zero day. In 2014, I organized the Arizona Trail Trek, a hike to promote the AZT, the guidebook that had just come out that I’d helped write, and the Gateway Communities. I set up 12 fundraisers benefitting the Arizona Trail Association, all with music, food and Arizona Trail Ale. I opened up my thru-hike for the public to sign up and join me on 7 dayhikes and five backpacking trips. For 2 1/2 months, I hiked, talked about the trail, took people on adventures, ate everything in sight and savored my solo time.
My dad was my support crew through most of it and was an integral part of the trip. It fulfilled my dreams of thru-hiking and spreading the word about this trail I love so much.
The truth is, I had this idea way back in 2007. I have a journal entry from a visit to Grand Canyon when I asked a ranger about the Arizona Trail and he couldn’t tell me anything about it. 7/27/07: “I could talk to people about the AZT and raise awareness. TV, news, little newspapers anyone who will listen! (Maybe even on hiking forums and other internet sources).” At the time, the trail wasn’t ready (it was 60 miles from being complete) and neither was I. I decided instead to use my 2008-09 hike of the AZT to raise awareness for fibromyalgia, a chronic pain condition I’ve had since 1997.
Seven years later, I made it happen, and as part of my job working for the Arizona Trail Association. The trail was now complete, I had seven years of experience under my belt and my work building the Gateway Community program and guiding meant I had the contacts and people skills to make a grand plan like this happen.
In the end, I raised almost $18,000 for the Arizona Trail Association, took over 100 people on the trail with me, held 12 fundraisers, talked to thousands of people, did interviews with TV, newspapers and radio, and wrote blogs and social media posts to virtually take people along. It was exhilarating and exhausting and all I’d ever hoped. I made friends through that trek that are dear to me to this day.
Have a big idea? What would it take to make it a reality?