What do a break up, a fatal disease, 30.1 miles and North Carolina have in common? They defined my summer of 2013 and ultimately changed my life. My summer started off with the end of a significant relationship which also meant the loss of my fellow outdoor adventure buddy. A few weeks after the break up, I received an email from the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation advertising one of their events to happen in the fall: the Xtreme Hike, in which participants hike 30.1 miles in one day to raise money and awareness for this fatal genetic disease, which takes lives on average in the late 30’s, progress from 20 years ago. I was desperate enough and it sounded crazy enough that I signed up immediately.
So summer of 2013 turned into a healing and life changing journey. I spent every weekend hiking scenic North Carolina trails with others in training. This amounted to hours on trails seeing beautiful places, discovering my own hiking capacities, and connecting with people in a way that only long hours in the woods can provide; you get past the small talk and make memories (often through mishaps) to share. I learned to be brave and ask for donations from family, friends, and local businesses, and was reminded of the goodness in people as I received generous donations from those in my life. Most of all, I learned to try things I was unsure I could do, believe in myself, and trust the woods and the trail to lead to my well-being.
When I set foot on the trail at 4 a.m. the morning of the actual event, I was nervous and excited. I experienced a day of utter beauty from the stars overhead, to a misty dawn breaking, to tunnels of mountain laurel, wide open balds, pine forests, and finally a finish line with enthusiastic family, friends, and children with cystic fibrosis who depend on every dollar raised. And I did the Xtreme Hike the next year. And then every year since. And my journey did not stop there. Three years later, having reaffirmed my love of, and need for, the outdoors, I picked up my life in North Carolina and moved to Colorado where I live my life among trails in all seasons, reaping the many benefits. Summer of 2013 transformed from a bleak moment to a life changer for both me and, most importantly, people living with cystic fibrosis.
This year the Colorado chapter is especially thankful to Woolx for partnering with us by donating clothing to our top fundraisers. Xtreme Hikes are now in multiple locations around the country. Visit the Fight Cystic Fibrosis home page to donate or find one near you for the adventure of a lifetime.
– Jessica Bloomfield
Thanks to Jessica for bringing this great event to our attention, and for giving Woolx the opportunity to help support some of the hikers! Check back in with Woolx Life in September to learn more about Cystic Fibrosis and the Xtreme Hike from Jessica.