Karen South Jones: Hiking adventure of a lifetime is complete

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 2, 2022

I hope no one has been worried about my fate on the Coast to Coast path. After my last update, internet service was somewhat limited. We were, after all, walking through the countryside of England. At one of our stops, the bed and breakfast in which we were booked was the only business or merchant in town. That’s how small and isolated we often were.

I did, in fact, complete the Coast to Coast on Friday, June 17. That was 192 miles walked, zero blisters, 11 new friendships established and thousands of memories made. I had mixed emotions on the last day. Part of me was ready to dip my boots in the North Sea and complete the walk. But part of me didn’t want it to end. I felt a bit like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz: I wanted to go “home” but I sure didn’t want to leave my new friends.

Now that I think about it, The Wizard of Oz is a pretty apt analogy for my Coast to Coast experience. We were a group of people from across the world with different backgrounds, experiences and strengths — all randomly brought together, our collective goal of completing the Coast to Coast quickly creating strong bonds. We had many of the Wizard of Oz characters, too. There was Jenny and Fiona who, with our guide, fearlessly led us up, around and over the trail. There was Mike, our expert on geology whose daily “Rock Lectures” taught us everything we needed to know about glaciers. There was sweet Sally and Brian, who had the knack of knowing when someone needed a bit of support and encouragement. I’d like to say I played the role of Glinda, the Good Witch, but that may be taking this analogy just a step too far. What we didn’t have were any wicked witches or flying monkeys or anyone with a bad attitude. That’s what made the adventure so much fun and what made saying goodbye so hard.

I hope to share more information about this grand experience in the not-too-distant future. For now, I want to thank all those who supported and encouraged me as I undertook this challenge. It was truly a life-transforming experience and one that I will never forget.

Karen South Jones is executive directorRowan County Youth Services Bureau and a former member of the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education representing the North District.

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