GLENVILLE, W.Va. – Sara Rollins, Administrative Secretary for the Glenville State College Department of Business, was watching television with her mother when she learned of the Pacific Crest Trail, located on the West Coast.
With her attention sparked, Rollins began to research similar trails on the East Coast. She came across information on the Appalachian Trail and inspirational stories of those who had embarked on the journey.
“The news stories noted people ‘finding themselves’ after walking that distance and spending that amount of time out in nature. I couldn’t get the idea out of my mind after that,” recalls Rollins.
Spanning 14 states and totaling approximately 2,200 miles, the Appalachian Trail is one of the most sought-after trails for thousands of hikers each year.
Rollins plans to hike the entire length of the trail, which she anticipates will take five to seven months. The route will lead her through Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Georgia.
She will face a variety of different terrains, weather conditions, and elevation changes along the way. While preparing physically for the trek, however, Rollins has also had to prepare mentally.
“The emotions I’m cycling through are pretty interesting to experience,” she said. “Some moments, I’m calm, confident, and ready to go. Some moments I’m worrying about whether I’m prepared enough and if there’s anything else I can do to help myself before I go. Other moments, I find myself sitting down, staring blankly into space as overarching panic sets in, and I start to feel humbled by how grand this undertaking is. I’m sad to leave my dog, but overall, I’m done waiting for my start date, and I’m just ready to do it!”
For many hikers, although challenging, the trail offers a chance to escape from the routines of everyday life and provides an opportunity for self-growth.
“I’m most excited for just the pure freedom that I will experience while I’m out there,” said Rollins. “The freedom to have no idea what time it is, and for that to be perfectly okay, the freedom of nobody expecting anything from me, and the freedom to do whatever I decide I want to do at whatever given time, while respectfully and humbly enduring all forms of weather that I am faced with.
“I will have the time and space to take care of myself and living out in nature for that amount of time will allow me to be much more in tune with what my body’s needs and how it craves to be in rhythm with the cycles of nature.
“My goal is to use the whole experience as a giant reset of my biorhythms, to shed the stories about myself that society wants me to tell, and to come to conclusions about my truths. Simply by gaining the confidence to make this hike happen, I’ve already started to do that.”
Rollins is originally from Macfarlan, W.Va. She moved to Glenville in 2010 to attend Glenville State College, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Music Performance in 2014 and a Bachelor of Arts in Music Education in 2017.
For Rollins, working at Glenville State College is more than just a job.
“I feel like I am an important part of this living and breathing community and I think that is special because, in so many places, it is easy for people to feel they don’t have a voice and that what they are doing doesn’t matter. In Glenville, I feel like a contributing member to this community, and truly do feel a sense of belonging,” she said.
Rollins will document her time on the Appalachian Trail through her personal blog, which she welcomes the community to follow along with in hopes that it inspires others to pursue their goals and dreams. Visit https://thetrek.co/author/sara-rollins.