In a season of women empowerment, this program is putting our hiking boots where our mouths are.
— Molly Stone, Director of Student Affairs & Advancement

It’s the ladies turn to take on the 2,200 miles, 14 state journey which is the Appalachian Trail. This year marked the start of the Maine Event Ladies Edition: a three-year program in which six young ladies from RA along with three staff women will section hike a portion of the trail in all of the 14 states it traverses.

Molly Stone, one of the staff leaders, explains why this program is so important: “In a season of women empowerment, this program is putting our hiking boots where our mouths are. We can tell our young women how incredible they are all day. We can speak affirmation and ‘you can do it’ over them every hour, but until they prove to themselves that they are incredible and that they can do it…we’re not going to reap the harvest of empowered Godly women.”

And proven themselves they have, tackling perhaps the most rigorous portion of the trail according to many hikers who have completed the entire 2,200 miles. The team began their journey in April of this year marking two states off the list. For 19 miles they summited two mountains reaching over 5,200 feet elevation in the Roan Highlands which switches back and forth between Tennessee and North Carolina. Spending the night on the trail, the adventurers carried everything they needed on their backs and encouraged each other up and over the trail. From singing to laughter to a few tears shed, breakthroughs were made throughout the four day journey.

Lydia Rusch, RA Art Teacher, explains: “It’s a unique experience to be so in awe of creation myself. Then, I get to look over to the student next to me and see the impact on them as they look out over mountains they never thought they could summit.”

The Maine Event: Ladies Edition was inspired by the original Maine Event led by Clint Cvacho in which a young men’s group completed section hikes in all 14 states the trail traverses over three years. The group completed the Event in last July summiting Mt Katahdin in Maine as described in our 2017 Annual Report.

Financially supported by donors to the program, the Ladies Edition participated in several practice hikes in the Fall of 2017 including overnight trips to Camp Winnataska for a Backpacking 101 excursion, Mt Cheaha and the Walls of Jericho on the Alabama/Tennessee border.

“Over the course of this year I have seen these young ladies grow closer to each other as a group. On and off the trail they have become more confident and a source of encouragement to one another. As they are realizing their strengths and weaknesses it is neat to see them admit needs in humility and use the gifts God has given them to build each other up.” said Amanda McPhail, a former RA math teacher.

With North Carolina and Tennessee checked off the list, the team will travel to Georgia, Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia and Pennsylvania during the 2018 – 19 school year.