Wednesday evening two "Inspirational Angels" gave a talk at the Putnam County Library. Chuck and Norma Sink are two people who hiked the Appalachian Trail at the age of 60 from Georgia to Main in a little over seven months.
They were in Greencastle telling their story and promoting their book, "You Can't Get There By Sitting Here." It is a story about perseverance and triumph--and of inspiration.
Between them, they carried over 80 pounds of hiking equipment on their fantastic journey of 2,175 miles covering 14 states from Georgia to Maine.
The Sinks developed the dream of hiking the Appalachian Trail in 1969 while living here in Indiana. The couple met in Marion in 1963 and spent their second date hiking at Turkey Run State Park in nearby Parke County. But, it wasn't until their children were grown and starting families of their own and they moved to the Great Smoky Mountains area that the idea of actually hiking the trail gelled.
Amazingly, the two had health issues like a frozen shoulder, bad knees, feet and a bad back. When they began their journey, Norma couldn't lift her 35-pound backpack or tighten the belt around her. Chuck had to do it for her.
The day they began their trip it snowed and the temperature dropped below zero. Yet, they never hesitated to begin the first leg of their dream.
They described the magic that occurs on the trail when something happens when you least expect it.
"This magic is performed by trail angels who offer an unexpected gesture of kindness that may be as simple as leaving words of encouragement in a registration book or a cooler full of water someplace on the trail," explained Norma.
"We recorded at least 150 moments of trail magic, but we know there were many, many more than that," she added.
They showed slides with incredible views of balds, mountains and forests and many, many rocks.
"The rocks in Vermont are all pointed," smiled Norma. "I know because I had to walk over them. They were the worst rocks."
The two climbed boulders, forded streams, squeezed through tiny passages all the while laughing and crying.
"It was so incredible to be out there. The quiet and the beauty we saw everywhere was amazing," said Chuck, who shot 4,700 pictures along the trail.
Most hikers adopt trail names. The Sinks chose "Chuckles" and "Gotta Go." They still smilingly referred to each other by those names.
"We would definitely do it again if our bodies would let us," Norma said.
Their book offers much more than just an account of their hike. It offers valuable information for anyone looking to make the journey of about 2,175 miles from the southern to northern end of the country.
They give advice on how to prepare for an epic adventure like hiking the Appalachian Trail including descriptions of indescribable views, the incredible fear of being caught above the tree line in hurricane winds, the endurance required and the amazing people they met along the way.
Listening to the Sinks talk was an inspiration to anyone who has a dream.
"Perseverance is a wonderful tool for those of us who are perhaps not as swift nor as strong as others to still achieve our goals and fulfill our dreams," they reflected.
To pick up a copy of their book, "You Can't Get There By Sitting Here," visit Fine Print Bookstore or contact Authorhouse at 800-839-8640 or online at www.authorhouse.com