Sunday, May 18, 2008

Miss Fernandez and her amazing kindergarten hikers


Hello kids at Westbrook Elementary! And hello Miss Fernandez.

This is Emma's uncle Ted, writing to you from the Appalachian Trail. The Appalachian Trail is a long path in the woods that starts in the state of Georgia and continues north through fourteen states and ends in Maine. I have already walked through three states and am now in North Carolina. Emma is going to vacation in Maine this summer with her family, but I won't be there yet. It is going to take me five months to hike the 2,174 miles of the trail. You will all be in first grade before I am finished!

McKinley's dad hiked the Appalachian Trail before she was born. Like me, he carried a big pack on his back with everything that he needed to live on the trail. In my pack, I carry a tent, a sleeping bag, a cookstove, water, food, a toothbrush and extra layers of clothing. I hike with two poles, one in each hand.

I know that a lot of you walk to school. Imagine if you walked all day long with your backpack on your back. That's what hiking the trail is like. Sometimes I get tired, but every day is different and I see new things. Yesterday I saw a bear cub!

The trail is just a narrow path in the woods, but it takes a lot of volunteers to keep it safe for hikers to walk on. The volunteers build steps on the trail, clear debris after storms and put up signs to help hikers find their way. Some of these volunteers are helping because of pledges that they made on Earth Day to help make the earth a better place to live.

The next time that you go outside for recess, you could pretend that you are hikers on the Appalachian Trail. It may seem funny to wear your backpacks at recess time, but that is what real hikers do. If you find a stick, you can pick it up and use it as a hiking pole. Since you may not find sticks for everyone, be sure to take turns using the poles you do find. You may also want to look for wildlife along the way. You won't see a baby bear at Westbrook, but there is a good chance that you will see some squirrels and birds.

Even though you are just pretending to be on the trail, you should walk in a single-file line because the trail is narrow. Perhaps Miss Fernandez will even lead the way.

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