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USCU FALL15 Magazine Online

FACULTY News Facult y Focus Take Two KEEPING PERSPECTIVE IN A DREAM DEFERRED Dr. Reid C. Toth Associate Professor of Criminal Justice WHAT'S PLAYING As the prospect of turning “50” begins to hit home for some people, an urgency to set goals of what they’d like to accomplish by that magic age takes hold. In 2014, though still quite a few years from 50, Dr. Reid C. Toth decided that she wanted to hike the entire Appalachian Trail by that milestone birthday. “I was inspired to do this (hike) originally when I read Bill Bryson’s book “A Walk in the Woods” in 2006,” said Toth. “However, I ended up moving to Spartanburg the next year, so the idea got pushed to the back of my mind until last year.” It was New Year’s Eve 2014 to be exact when it occurred to her that “I’m middle-aged, and if I wanted to do this, I better get started.” The very next day Toth impulsively decided to hike to the top of Table Rock. “It was a little over three miles and took me seven hours,” she noted. “I thought I was going to die from both the exertion and the fear. I almost quit then, but a friend stepped in and offered to train me.” The fear factor was coupled with the fact that Toth is legally blind. Her desire to make the hike was as much about regaining her confidence as it was about reaching her “by age 50” goal. Training became a daily part of her life from that point on. Rising at 4 a.m. each day, she would walk 3.5 miles, gradually including some running to build up her cardiovascular endurance. She also traveled to regional mountain trails for day hikes on weekends. Toth decided to start her hike at Spring Mountain, Georgia, the southern terminus for the Appalachian Trail, and end at Clingmans Dome, Tennessee. So on July 2, she donned her 40-pound backpack, made her way through the pouring rain to the monument marking the beginning point on Springer Mountain, registered and took the first steps toward reaching her goal. Despite inclement weather, the next few days went according to plan. Though hiking alone, she noted that everyone looks out for each other in an incredible culture of shared experience. Six miles after reaching her halfway point and feeling BY MEG HUNT exhilarated at making it to the top of Albert Mountain’s half mile of vertical granite, the unimaginable happened. “I was on a section of the Trail that was only about 18 inches wide,” reflected Toth. “My right foot came down on the edge of the trail which was soft from the rain and the edge fell away. I lost my balance, fell down the side snapping both bones in my left leg just above the top of my boot.” Knowing that her leg was broken was certainly a reality of the moment, but the next immediate anguish was in the fact that “I can’t finish.” Following her rescue and return home, Toth found herself despondent over not finishing. So on July 24, the day she would have finished the hike, she asked her husband to drive her to Clingmans Dome. With determined effort, she made her way on crutches up the half mile to the Trail so “I could stand at the place where I would have finished that day if I had not broken my leg. On the way back down, I ran into this woman who was missing a leg. It really helped put my injury in perspective.” While disappointed at this summer’s turn of events, Toth is committed to achieving her goal. “I am absolutely committed to finishing the entire Trail by the time I am 50 in 2020,” she said. “I hope this spring I can finish the 94 miles I didn’t cover this summer, then next July I will start at Clingmans Dome and do another 300-mile section. I will finish.” 15  Fall 2015 Upstate Magazine


USCU FALL15 Magazine Online
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