Caloosa Belle

Local lady hikes the Appalachian Trail – Florida style

Linda Vaughan goes the distance. (Caloosa Belle/Amanda Nelson)

If you look up the words perseverance, determination and fortitude in the Webster’s Dictionary then chances are you might see a photo of Linda Vaughan, a local lady with a mission. She is the epitome of strength and dedication. She is a woman who has literally walked miles to achieve her goal.

Two years ago, Linda decided she wanted to walk the entire length of the Appalachian Trail. And, yes, that’s the same Appalachian Trail that spans across 14 states and covers nearly 2,200 miles. Its route begins in Georgia and ends in Maine. With her roots in LaBelle, leaving home for an extended period of time to trek across distant terrain was out of the question.

After careful consideration and planning, Linda acquired a map of the Appalachian Trail. She then hung it on her wall, and started ‘walking the trail’ – Florida-style. With a walking stick in hand, she created a path around her family’s pasture where she racked up approximately five miles each day. After each hike, she moved a little pushpin on her map to record the number of miles she had logged in. Some days she hiked solo while other days she had company.

Two years and 2,185 miles later, Linda completed her hike on November 13 – just one day shy of her 67th birthday. Nothing held her back. Even with Florida’s unpredictable weather, she didn’t let chilly, muggy or sweltering days dampen her spirits. During this time she also lost her husband to cancer. However, throughout his battle she kept her motivation going strong. Linda made it, and she finally walked the entire length of the Appalachian Trail!

Tommy and Susan Vaughan, Linda’s son and daughter-in-law, are very proud of this amazing accomplishment. They have cheered her on from the beginning. Unbeknownst to Linda, her family surprised her with a simple celebration on November 19. Not surprisingly, she was “shocked” to see her friends and family gather to congratulate her on her efforts. Linda stated that “it was just something I wanted to do.” Now the plan is to do a “yo-yo” and turn around to hike the trip back home.

Linda Vaughan is a true inspiration. She is proof that you can achieve your goals, even if it is only one step at a time. As Confucius stated, “it does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” Keep on hiking Linda!

Do you know of someone who is an inspiration to their community or family? Then let us know and we may do a story on them. Please e-mail your ideas to cbnews@newszap.com