With the end of 2022 rapidly approaching I cannot help but reflect on the momentous year for the conference. Of note is the successful rescout of the Southwest region, removing the unsafe route through Death Valley, our first membership meeting, Rue’s multiple presentations with organizations, and growth of our membership. Our largest accomplishment is the finish of the First Hike of the American Perimeter Trail. With the completion of the first hike and scout the organization has proof of the concept that the corridor can be created and is also necessary. Our green spaces are decreasing as Rue is witnessing firsthand in North Carolina this month.
The conference completed these incredible undertakings with a grass-roots fully volunteer organization and budget. It is because of our members and other individuals that we were able to finish Phase 1. At the heart of our organization are the people and the communities in which they reside. While we are creating a continuous conservation corridor, we are also connecting communities. The communities connect to each other via our corridor and then back to their own land, a beautiful interconnectedness made possible because of people. It continues to be an honor and privilege to further the mission and vision of the conference.
As Rue hiked we all watched the dots on our map become fewer, until on October 8th there were none. When I began with Rue in the early phases of the project in Arizona nearly ¾ of the map was little red dots just waiting to be connected. There was a route over to Florida that then turned back northwest towards Alabama before continuing onward northeast into the upper reaches of New England. As we all know the route changed with the onset of Covid-19, forever making its mark on the APT as well as the rest of the world. With every new challenge that arose this year I simply looked at this map and how many fewer dots there were back to Bend. Viewing our completed map, knowing that each of us assisted in connecting those dots brings tears to my eyes and an overwhelming feeling of gratitude. The hike and route were massive; thousands of miles hiked, more than 100 resupply boxes mailed with only 1 lost, and thousands of text messages and phone calls went into this mission. All because a man had a vision and the courage to turn his vision into a goal. All because we built a community that believed in his vision and supported it multiple ways. All because we believe in the sacredness of the outdoors.
I believe in the power of community and connection. I believe in the power of these to create our corridor. I believe in each of you and how you impact our community. Every member I have met, every person I have interacted with on behalf of the APT has given us a gift and it is through these that we have achieved so much and will continue to accomplish our mission. Thank you for the gifts and I look forward to the coming year with all of you.
If you light your life with kindness, you will always be able to see your way home.Courtney Peppernell