Exploration and New Beginnings

August 6, 2014  
Filed under Mature Matters

August 2014

By Sarah Lemnah

 

Llyn Ellison, 68, shown here with a fellow hiker, has set an ambitious target of hiking the entire Appalachian Trail, in sections, before she turns 70. (Contributed photo)

Llyn Ellison, 68, shown here with a fellow hiker, has set an ambitious target of hiking the entire Appalachian Trail, in sections, before she turns 70. (Contributed photo)

 

Today’s seniors are gearing up for the next phases in their lives. Some retirees are starting businesses, raising grandchildren, enjoying new hobbies or exploring the world. The idea of a rocking chair in their golden years has been replaced with self-exploration, adventures and new beginnings.
For one local senior, retirement means she has the time and flexibility to focus on her life time love of the outdoors and hiking. Llyn Ellison, a former Fletcher Allen Health Care volunteer program staffer, has set an ambitious target of hiking the entire Appalachian Trail, in sections, before she turns 70.
The 68-year-old already stays busy as a volunteer in the program she once coordinated, as a volunteer driver for SSTA, and as a CVAA volunteer providing companionship to a local senior.
Ellison has already completed 1,300 miles of the 2,200 mile trail. Averaging 10 miles a day, but sometimes going almost twice that distance for weeks at a time carrying a 35 pound pack on her back, she keeps on going like the Energizer bunny. “My mom used to take me and my brother to Okemo Mountain. She instilled in me a love of nature and the outdoors. When I hike is the closest I feel to my Mom.”
In April, Ellison was in New York and New Jersey, in May she was in Northern Pennsylvania, July she will be in Maine, August she will hike in Massachusetts, September in Southern Virginia, and in October she will hike the entire state of Georgia. It is not unusual for Ellison to hike steadily for two to three weeks as she completes a new section. Her pack must include her food for five days in order to decrease the number of times she needs to leave the trail for supplies. She also carries two-three pounds of water, a change of clothes, her sleeping bag and a tent. Hiking 10 miles, enjoying the sounds of the birds and seeing the different flowers are the fun part. However, once she makes camp, it is time to set up the tent, find water, hang her pack of food so bears cannot get to it and make dinner. All of the hard work seems to fade away as Ellison talks about the sunsets and the sunrise. “Being in the mountains is peaceful and invigorating, it fills my soul.”
Though Ellison loved her job, she was ready to retire. “My passion is hiking. Being retired is much more freeing to allow me to hike.”
She readily remarks that many of the people she meets on the trail are surprised to see women her age out in the woods. “(It’s) weird to see women with white hair out there. I will do it as long as my body endures,” she said. She said her time hiking the Appalachian Trail has “taught me how to organize myself and enjoy the moment. I love the feeling of everything I need on my back.”
Ellison has a word of advice for people facing retirement and considering a new adventure. “Just do it. Life is too short and there are so many wonderful things to explore. When presented with a challenge, step up to the plate and do it!”

Sarah Lemnah writes on senior issues for CVAA. For more information on services for seniors call the Senior HelpLine at 1-800-642-5119 or click on cvaa.org.

 

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