A love letter to AllTrails

Mom reaching Carvins Cove sign at Hinchee Trail
My mom celebrating her achievement on the Hinchee Park Trail.

The first time I opened the AllTrails app, I was visiting and taking care of my mom after her 18th cardiac catheterization and umpteenth stent placement—courtesy of an incurable genetic condition.

Every day over coffee, I stared longingly at the mountains and dreamed about hiking Virginia’s famous Triple Crown Loop. In the evenings, my mom and I would venture out on short, slow walks in her Salem, Virginia neighborhood. Her lack of strength and energy seemed insurmountable, but I lovingly pointed out that her daily meal of popcorn and tea wasn’t doing her any favors.

I took over meal preparation, and almost immediately, her endurance and speed improved. Within two weeks, we hiked three flat miles on part of the Roanoke River Greenway Trail on a gorgeous November day.

On November 28, we set out on Hinchee Park Trail. My goal was 2.5 miles in and out with moderate elevation. I packed nutrient-dense snacks, lots of water, and hoped to god I wasn’t putting my mom in any danger.

My mom and I have not had the easiest relationship, and I harbored a lot of resentment and frustration over the years. As our feet crunched through leaves and balanced on loose rocks, I started to find peace in her presence. I focused purely on her health during the climb and celebrated her achievement when she arrived at the high point of the trail.

I wish I could tell you that this hike cured her chronic illness, but this disease has a lock on her. She had to have a bypass surgery two months ago. For the first time, I heard real depression setting into her voice. So, in January, I’m going to stay with her again. Maybe this time, we’ll tackle the Triple Crown Loop.

Never back down, never what?