Meet Our Hiker Hero of the Week: Laurie "Reverse" Corbin of N. GA
By Carla "Prada" Akers, September 2012
A few days ago, when I first met Hiker Hero of the Week, Laurie “Reverse” Corbin,
she easily and stealthily zoomed up the Appalachian Trail behind me as I labored
intensively to get up a rather difficult stretch of the trail in the Great Smoky
Mountains National Park in NC.
“Hello there!” she announced from just behind me.
Our first exchange began rich in trail laughter and introductions, as I had just
shrieked like a startled little girl, deep in thought and focused on nothing but my
sheer determination to get up that hill. As hikers frequently do, we found the situation
hilarious. We laughed until we both started coughing, big smiles on our faces, feeling
as if we had yet again met a kindred spirit.
The trail is just like that.
“See you at Mollies Ridge,” our mutual destination for the night, I promised as she waved back and easily sped off up the trail. Impressed by her seemingly effortless climbing abilities, I slowly continued along, feeling like it would probably not be the last time my new trail friend Reverse would impress me on this trip.
Meet the Trail Maintainer Goddess
When I finally arrived, eight miles and many hours later, at Mollies Ridge Shelter for the night, Reverse had already been there for several hours.
“You are a hiking machine,” I teased her. As I rustled around making dinner, which she big-heartedly offered to help me cook, I found out more about my incredible new friend. Not only does she put in many miles on the trail just for fun, I also found out that she is a member of the Georgia Appalachian Trail Club and has a dedicated section of the trail in North GA that she personally maintains.
I had just met a trail goddess.
Trail Maintainers are some of the most giving, altruistic folks I have ever encountered. These volunteers donate time to regularly hike sections of the AT lovingly performing beautification and maintenance duties many of us could never imagine, much less accomplish. These individuals pick up litter other hikers leave behind, carry heavy tools over many miles to trim overgrowth, sometimes saw logs by hand to move them off the path, and move boulders and rocks to fix or create steps in the trail. They also dig trenches in rock-filled dirt to divert water run-off, rebuild trails that have eroded, and along the way help to educate everyone they meet on Leave-No-Trace practices and general trail safety, among many other amazing charitable duties.
I thanked Reverse repeatedly for her service on the AT. People like her make it possible for the rest of us to enjoy our beloved trail. If it were not for trail maintainer volunteers, our trail would slowly slide down the mountains, disappearing back into nature as if it had never existed.
The Injury that Really Left Me Speechless
The second hiking day I arrived late into the night, after all the other hikers in the shelter had gone to bed, so I did not do much chatting with anyone that night. Fortunately, the third day on the trail presented a short seven-mile hike that allowed me to arrive to the Double Spring Gap shelter during daylight hours, thus giving me more time to talk with Reverse about her hiking travels. This night she introduced me to “Frankenfoot.”
After downing an entire Mountain House meal all by myself, and climbing into a slightly damp sleeping bag, I wanted to know more about the amazing hiker I now regarded so highly.
“So how did you like The Narrows today?” I asked her about hiking the breathtaking ridge along the NC and TN border.
“Definitely easier going than yesterday’s steep ups and downs, especially with good old Frankenfoot, here,” she playfully responded as she showed me her ankle as if it were no big deal.
Frankenfoot? Not only does my remarkable friend hike more than anyone else I know, maintain her own section of trail in GA, and out-hike me like nobody’s business, but she does all of this on a long-ago broken and mangled fused ankle. She hikes up inclines on her toes.
I choked back overwhelming emotion at hearing of this injury and realizing her talent. An injury that would keep most folks from even walking to the mailbox anymore had not stopped Reverse from living her dreams, giving selflessly to others, and inspiring anyone she meets who is blessed enough to hear her story.
Do Not Ever Give Up
We both agreed that night on our favorite piece of advice: Do not ever give up. It embodies all that I stand for in life, as does Reverse. A thousand thank-you praises are not enough to convey how appreciative I am to her for what she does for the Appalachian Trail. I am sure you will all also agree. Truly honored to know her, I will also never forget the fire of determination she helped stoke within me during those few days I got to spend talking with her. Let that light spread within you as well. Join me in honoring Laurie “Reverse” Corbin as our Hero Hiker of the Week. Happy trails!