ELKIN — Growing up, Kasie Taylor, known as Moxie among the Appalachian Trail community, wasn’t a hiker.
Three years ago all that changed.
On a whim she decided to through-hike the 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail, from Maine to Georgia, with a side mission of raising money for Warrior Hike — which promotes the therapeutic effects of long-distance outdoor expeditions to help combat veterans’ transition from their military service back into civilian life.
Now, Taylor is on another trail, which had her hiking through the Yadkin Valley region last week — the North Carolina Mountains-to-Sea Trail — again raising money for the veterans-support program.
Now known as Warrior Expeditions, because it has come to incorporate more outdoor activities than just hiking and backpacking, Taylor decided to support the program again on this trek across North Carolina, with a goal of raising $22 a day during her journey.
She surpassed that goal, at least for last Tuesday, as the Elkin Veterans of Foreign Wars post donated $62 toward her goal, according to local Elkin Valley Trails Association ambassador and veteran Joe Hicks, who met up with Taylor Tuesday when she got into Elkin and was with her Wednesday morning as she set out on the next stretch of trail between Elkin and Rockford.
Taylor’s journey began Memorial Day at Clingman’s Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains, and she hopes to finish the 1,200-mile trail on Aug. 1 at Jockey’s Ridge on the Outer Banks.
“Hiking has a lot of selfish and selfless things to it,” Taylor said. “I found Warrior Hike, now Warrior Expeditions, and it just felt right.”
She reached out to Capt. Sean Gobin, founder of Warrior Expeditions, and he supported Taylor on her mission.
“Hiking is very therapeutic, and to be able to give back to those who sacrificed so much and served,” is why she chose to support the program.
On the Appalachian Trail, Taylor said there weren’t as many opportunities to spread the word about Warrior Expeditions, but on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, as it goes through towns along the way, she’s able to talk about the program with others and hand out brochures.
The Central Virginia native, who now lives and works in Maine, chose the North Carolina trail for her second long-distance hike because it was close to home, and she can do it in half the time of the Appalachian Trail.
The $22-a-day number was chosen to reflect and honor the 22 veterans a day who commit suicide, an eye-opening fact discovered through a study released by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs in 2013.
On Tuesday when she walked into Elkin, Taylor had planned on camping the night in Crater Park, but with coordination from Hicks, local resident Suzanne Puckett stepped in and provided her a place to stay for the night as well as breakfast before she headed out Wednesday morning. She got a late start Wednesday after taking some extra time to recoup from hiking her first marathon, going 26.1 miles Tuesday.
Wednesday was day 23 of her trip, and standing in front of the double doors to The Liberty on East Main Street, she said she was at mile 398.7.
To support Taylor’s Warrior Expeditions fundraising goal, online donations can be made at www.warriorexpeditions.org/support/kasie-taylor/. Follow her journey at www.moxieonthemst.blogspot.com.
Wendy Byerly Wood is the editor of The Elkin Tribune and may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.