Zoe  1 of 1  4.jpg?ixlib=rails 2.1

Zoe's Thoughts from the Appalachian Trail

Zoe  1 of 1  3.jpg?ixlib=rails 2.1

A Note From the Trail

Having had plenty of time to think while I walk, I want to share some of my thoughts.

Hi, my name is Zoë.

I’ve likely taught your child about fly fishing, taken them on a backpacking trip, or cooked them a warm meal. I‘ve been around GRP for 10 years now; as a camper, expeditioner, nanny, cook, counselor, and, my favorite of all, a Blue Ridge Expedition leader.

I went on my first Blue Ridge Expedition (BRX) at 14. BRX offered me a life-changing experience. I learned how to whitewater paddle, rock climb, and I went on my first backpacking trip. These experiences alone are amazing, yet we see that they act as profound catalysts for growth in young adults. My experience was no different.

I learned to live closely with the earth and in a community. I found joy in the simplest tasks. I cooked new foods and I discovered how to fuel my body well. I learned how to ask for help, communicate my needs, manage conflicts, and maintain a positive mental attitude. I was given the time to howl at the moon with friends that will last a lifetime.

I came home with a motivation for the mundane and renewed vigor for life. I promised myself that I would live my life by the last line of the Woodcraft Law of Love: Seek the joy of being alive.

Zoe  1 of 1  5.jpg?ixlib=rails 2.1
Zoe  1 of 1 .jpg?ixlib=rails 2.1
Zoe  1 of 1  2.jpg?ixlib=rails 2.1

As a BRX leader the past two summers, I have had the privilege of sharing the art of making even ordinary tasks extraordinary while teaching backpacking, paddling, and rock climbing skills to the most amazing young adults.

For now, I am on an adventure of my own. The passion and skill fostered when I was 14 have hit a grander stage. I am currently backpacking the 2,200 mile Appalachian Trail.

Midway through our second day on the trail, my sibling and I were stopped by a hiker that had thousands of more backpacking miles under his belt than us, having already completed the Appalachian Trail and several other long trails. We chatted for a bit, him asking us many questions. He stopped us from talking a moment and said, “You’ll make it to Maine, y’all’s attitude for this is infectious.”

Shocked by his confidence in us, we hiked on. As I walked, I came to think about my expeditioners from the past summers and the monumental amount of joy they exuded during the most challenging parts of our trips.

Many miles later, at camp with Xan, my sibling and another past BRXer, we discussed this hiker’s confidence in us. We both agreed on this:

We pack our backpacks each morning, the same way we learned on BRX, and no matter where we are, we seek the joy of being alive, just as I learned on BRX.

I’ve lived and seen the growth first hand: Blue Ridge Expedition creates confident, curious, driven, empathetic leaders and community builders. The world is a better place with our expeditioners in it. I urge all young adults to lean in and join us on a Blue Ridge Expedition.

Seek the Joy, Zoë Mihalas

Zoë Mihalas came to GRP as a camper back in 2015. Since then, she has been a participant in the Blue Ridge Expedition (BRX) and Leadership in Training (LIT) Expedition. She has fulfilled many roles at GRP, including a leader for BRX in 2021 and 2022. This year, she is taking some time to persue a goal that has occupied her mind for many years: through hiking the 2,200 mile Appalachian Trail. This means she will hike from Springer Mountain, Georgia to Mount Katahdin, Maine. The Appalachian Trail is one of eleven scenic trails in the United States and much sought after goal for many hikers and backpackers. Some people hike the entireity of this trail in different sections over the course of a couple of years. Zoë and her brother Xan, another former GRP camper, expeditioner, and staff member, are choosing to through hike. This means they will do the entire trail in one trip. The Apalachian Trail Conservancy states an average through hike time of around 6 months!