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Army reservist, mom to hike Appalachian Trail

A soldier and her mother are getting ready for a really huge undertaking.
March 14, 2014 8:02:58 AM PDT
A soldier and her mother are getting ready for a really huge undertaking. They plan to hike along the entire Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine to save the lives of other soldiers.

"I have seen some amazing places in the world," said Sgt. Ilene Henderson.

Henderson, who is an Army reservist, has seen the horrors of war. She is packing for a 2,000 mile hike she says to find inner peace.

"So, I think going on this hike will free me of outside distractions and allow me to focus on coming to terms with my experiences and hike out the war," said Ilene.

Henderson deployed to both Afghanistan and Iraq, but says coming home was the real battle. She survived, but two friends didn't and committed suicide.

She plans to hike the entire Appalachian Trail in the next six to seven months. Henderson hopes each step raises public attention and funds for a group trying to stop the rise of suicides among soldiers who went to war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"I don't think it will be hard, it will be challenging," said Ilene.

Henderson's 65-year-old mother, Inge, is going with her.

"One step at the time, 5-10 miles a day," said Inge. "You just go out and start walking."

They've packed everything from camping and cooking supplies to cold and hot weather clothing in two 36 pound backpacks.

Inge says has they've hiked before but nothing like this. She's walked around the neighborhood getting used to the weight. A science teacher, she hopes to get more than just sore muscles and feet for their effort.

"I want to see how many species I can find," said Inge. "How many trees, flowers, and bugs and snakes. It's definitely a science lesson."

It's a lesson in living as well.

"It's the Army paratrooper in me that says 'Hey, if you are going to do, you know go all the way,'" said Ilene.

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