When Kim Grover of Charlottesville decided to hike the Appalachian Trail, she knew she wanted to hike for more than just herself.
“I’ve been aware for a while how fortunate I feel to be able to hop in a warm shower and to go home where it’s warm when it’s raining outside, whereas some people just don’t have that option,” Grover said.
Grover sets off on the Appalachian Trail on Friday for a six-month mission to raise money for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville and The Haven, a shelter to end homelessness in downtown Charlottesville.
“It’s all about housing. The Haven is doing its best to help people who are in a state of not having homes and to get them into homes and the kind of resources they can get. Habitat for Humanity gives people actual home ownership and in Charlottesville that’s a difficult thing to achieve,” Grover said.
Grover is asking people to pledge as little as a penny or a nickel for each mile of the approximately 2,193 mile journey. While Grover doesn’t have a set fundraising goal, she said she’d like to raise at least $10,000 and thinks this is easily achievable based on pledges she’s already received.
While she’s walking outdoors so others may live indoors, there’s something in the long walk for Grover, too. She has dreamed of hiking the Appalachian Trail since she was a kid.
“When I was a little girl, we used to have an Appalachian Trail coffee table book and we would look through the photos. We went camping a lot when I was a kid and just always loved being outside,” she recalled.
“A couple of years ago, a friend of mine hiked the trail. And I realized real people do it. It just never struck me that I could actually plan and go myself until somebody I knew did. So that’s what I did,” she said.
Grover decided now is the time to make the trek since her children have graduated high school and college. She said her kids and husband are very supportive of her trip.
“I went through a phase where I was like, ‘What am I doing? I can’t go, this is crazy. I won’t be home, I love my bed.’ But I’m definitely getting more and more excited about it and love waking up outside. I love being outside,” Grover said. “I think it’s going to be really exciting meeting the whole group of people that chose to hike the trail this year.”
Grover will start the hike in Amicalola Falls, Georgia, eight miles south of the southern terminus of the trail in Springer Mountain, Georgia. The journey will take her back through parts of Central Virginia including McAfee Knob, and she will finish the trail at Mount Katahdin, Maine.
Grover’s an experienced hiker, but preparing for the six month journey has required her to do a lot of research and planning into packing judiciously and where she’ll stop for breaks. While it’s been a little intimidating, her love of the outdoors and her passion for the fundraiser is what she knows will keep her going.
“Raising funds for Habitat and The Haven is a big motivator. And on some level I knew that I could quite possibly get out there and it could get a little difficult I’d hang it up, but if I’ve got other people sort of depending on me, I won’t,” Grover said.
Pledges can be made by visiting tinyurl.com/2yxjjn6t. Grover plans to post updates on her journey on her Instagram page @hiking_for_homes_apptrail22.