WE DID IT!!!!!!!! The Xtreme Hike was on 9/14 and all 3 of the Winkel Warriors completed the 30.1 miles in around 13 hours! We began the weekend by traveling to the Wilderness Lodge Resort in Lesterville on Friday afternoon. We arrived at around 5:00 pm and met up with the 30 other Xtreme Hikers and event staff. We enjoyed a pasta dinner and an inspirational speech from Mike Burke, a 43 year old tri-athlete and marathon runner who has CF. What an amazing man! We went to bed early in preparation for the 2:00 am wake up call. Michelle did not sleep a wink, while Mike and Sara slept like babies (not fair). That being said, those who did sleep only got about 4 hours of sleep, so either way we were all sleep deprived at 2:30 am when we met up with the rest of the group for breakfast. After pictures and some granola bars, we loaded up on the bus to head to the trailhead. At 4:15 am, the Winkel Warriors were the 4th team to start. We took off at a good pace, hoping to warm up. It was about 48 degrees at that time. Yikes! All of the beginning hikers were grouped pretty closely together and you could see headlamps gleaming in the dark almost as bright as the stars above. It was truly beautiful! At one point, we took a turn and followed the lead pack further into the woods. At this point, the trail seemed a bit too overgrown, but we continued on. We heard what sounded like a pack of dogs barking like crazy. About 2.5 miles later, we came to a gravel road and noticed the group of hikers that were ahead of us clumped up around a truck. This was at about 4:45 am or so. We were worried that someone was hurt, so we headed over to the truck. One of the other hikers told us that we had all taken a wrong turn and had been going down the wrong trail for about 2 miles or so. The truck belonged to a nice older couple whose dogs had alerted them that someone was in the woods- thank god for that! They loaded a group of about 12 hikers into the back of the truck and drove them back to the correct trail. The Winkel Warriors and a group of about 6 others waited for the truck to return to take us. As we waited, we had some time to enjoy the stars and be thankful that someone found us! After about 20 minutes, we loaded into the truck and headed to the trail again. It was the coldest ride I've ever experienced!
They dropped us off about 2 miles from Strothers Creek and we headed on our way again. At about 6:00 am, we made it to the first aid station. We didn't stay too long because we had lost over an hour of time with the redirection. By this time, we were able to ditch our headlamps and extra layers of clothes, which was helpful. We saw so many beautiful sights, nice little streams, waterfalls, the prettiest rocks and tallest pine trees. It was really majestic. We laughed and sang and peed in the woods. We were really having fun at this point. We were a little scared about getting lost again as the hike groups had really fanned out after the aid station, so we were traveling by ourselves at this point. Sleep deprivation was affecting us and we were worried that we had gotten onto another trail again. At some point, we got smart enough to quit worrying and just look for fresh footprints of those who were ahead of us. That helped a lot. Must be my (Michelle's) Native American heritage stepping up to the plate because I'm a pretty darn good tracker!
We made it to aid station 2 and rested a bit longer, changed our socks and ate some more beef sticks. The next leg of the hike was the longest and we were starting to feel it. This was miles 15-22. We kept on. We sang the MO 49 song that is probably burned into Mike and Sara's heads for life now! At this point, we were doing everything we could to not let the lack of sleep cripple us. Joints were starting to hurt and Sara and Mike's knees were really bothering them. Michelle was battling with a terrible choice of underwear. I won't go into details, but it was a bit painful. We made it to aid station 3 at mile 22. We made the smart decision that morning to pack a cooler to send to aid station 3. It was packed with Michelle's go go juice (Diet Dr. Pepper) and 3 beers. We felt that we should celebrate once we got to that station. Mike and Michelle drank their beers and Michelle practically main-lined a Diet Dr. Pepper. There was a reporter from Channel 5, Columbia's station. He asked to describe the hike in one word. With our creative juices feeling very stagnant, the three of us replied with the worst answers to this question known to man: Extreme, Fun, and Cool. Bleh!!! Hope they don't air that!
We headed off for the last leg of the hike and we were ready to be done! With our detour, we had actually hiked about 24 miles by the time of aid station 3, so we were really feeling it. Odd things begin going on in your body when you hike over rough terrain for 13 hours straight with no sleep and limited to trail snack type food. You begin to feel parts of your body that you never even knew were there. Little bones in your feet feel like they are separating and are about to burst out of your foot. Knees--- MIke and Sara can tell you more about them, but they were really hurting them at this point! Sara was a trooper and refused to stop even though Mike kept asking her if she was okay. She just said repeatedly, let's keep going. We were all looking forward to making it to Council Bluffs lake because the hike was set to end there. We thought that we would be hiking around the lake for the last 8 miles or so, but there was a long stretch from aid station 3 before we even made it to the lake. It felt like it took forever! We also had to pass through a section that was similar to the blasted Prairie Rehab- that we have come to despise. I think this is when Sara hit the wall. She trudged on like a trooper, but the going was rough for all 3 of us. We made it to the lake and the last 4 miles seemed to drag on forever. When we made it to the end, we were all so thankful to have made it. We went down to the lake and took off our shoes and socks, waded in and let the sand massage our feet. Best feeling ever!!! We drank a few beers and relaxed, but not too much. The thing about hiking 30 miles is that nothing makes you comfortable when you are done! When you sit down, it is painful to get up because the stiffness sets in. I felt like the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz. I wish someone could have squirted some oil in my joints! You can't stand too long because your feet and legs are in so much pain. Nothing feels good! We headed back to the lodge to enjoy our dinner and it was fantastic! We sat in the hot tub for a bit and that felt so refreshing. We enjoyed a few beers and hit the sack at about 10:00pm.
At breakfast the next morning, we all received patches for our bags and told stories about what inspired us to be there and who inspired us. It was so touching and amazing to hear all the stories. It really set the tone for the event and we all feel so blessed to have been able to participate in it. We thank all of you who have donated from the bottom of our hearts! This summer has been life changing and we are so proud to have participated in this event. Overall, the 33 hikers who participated in the Xtreme Hike have raised a combined $93,000! We can still continue to raise money until October and our goal as a group is to make it past $110,000. If we do that, then the St. Louis Xtreme Hike will break the record for the most money raised by an inaugural hike. That would be amazing! If all of you could have met the people that we have through this event, you would further understand why we are so passionate about it. This weekend was as much of a workout for our hearts, as it was for our bodies. An amazing spiritual, emotional, and physical journey. Thank you so much for helping us get there!
MEDIA: Enjoying a little bit of media exposure...We made the paper! http://www.emissourian.com/features_people/feature_stories/article_02802194-a93d-575f-9e44-1d5e5267e85f.html
CONNECTIONS: The Winkel Warriors have connected with Adam Brockmiller, originally from Union, MO. Adam has Cystic Fibrosis and has recently received a wonderful gift.. New Lungs! He reports that he is doing well and is truly enjoying this new lease on life! He is an inspiration and his story further highlights the reasons why the hardwork of fundraising is so very worth it. To read more about Adam, check out his blog at www.abtransplant.blogspot.com.
MORE ABOUT THE WINKEL WARRIORS.... We are a team of three: Michelle Kasmann, Mike Winkelmeier, and Sara Maune. We call ourselves the WinkelWarriers and are excited to join the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation in raising funds for such a great cause. How did we get involved in this endeavor? Read on...
Aside from our general love of all things outdoors and hiking, we felt personally drawn toward this particular event and charity. Mike's older brother, David, is currently 40 years old and lives with Cystic Fibrosis. This event provided us with an opportunity to do something we love, to benefit someone who Mike and his family love. When David was born, his parents were told that he might live to be 6 years old. He is currently 40! How is that possible? For one, David is very spiritual and I can't help but believe that his devotion to God has helped him persist when others have fallen. Checkout David's blog at www.therace-hebrews12.blogspot.com.
The amazing strides that the medical community has made in the past 40 years have significantly contributed to the increased life expectancy in CF patients. Fundraising events such as the Extreme Hike help make medical research possible. The CF prescribes that we each must raise $2,500 to participate, or reach a team goal of $7,500 combined. While that goal seems lofty, in the grand scheme of things, that is a drop in the bucket. Medical research is costly, but so very vital to the lives of patients like David.
Two years ago, David was at a point where his disease was progressing significantly. He was placed on a lung transplant list and received a double lung transplant. Lung transplants are risky, but in David's case, his options were becoming limited. David has been thriving and it is such a blessing. We will post more about David's story as we get closer to the hike, so stay tuned!
About the hike: We will be hiking 30 miles in one day on the Ozark Trail in Potosi on 9/14. We are participating in this hike as the only representatives from the Washington area. In addition, this is the first time the Extreme Hike is being held in Missouri. We are striving to surpass our goals and show everyone how amazing and supportive the people in Washington/Franklin County are! We can't thank you enough for your generous donations and helping us to raise awareness of this organization!
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Here is are some interesting facts about CF:
- CF is an inherited lungs and digestive system that affect approximately 30,000 children and adults in the US are affected (70,000 worldwide).
- Symptoms are caused by a defective gene whose protein product produces thick mucus that clogs the lungs and leads to life threatening infections. The mucus also obstructs the pancreas and prevents the absorption of necessary nutrients.
- While great strides have been made by the Foundation, at least one life a day is lost to CF. It is this country’s most fatal genetic disease among children and young adults.
- In the 1950’s few children lived to attend elementary school, today many people can expect to live into their 30s, 40s, and beyond.
And a bit about the foundation:
- Established in 1955, is non-profit donor supported, is the world leader in the search for a cure for CF.
- The Foundation’s drug development model has been recognized by Harvard Business School, Forbes, The New Yorker, and Bloomberg BusinessWeek
- The Foundation is a pioneer in research, advocate for CF, steward of donations, and caregiver of loved ones.
- Nearly every drug available in the treatment for CF was made possible due to the Foundation’s efforts, and released the first FDA approved drug in 2012 that treats the underlying cause of CF.
I know you want to donate to our cause right NOW, To do so click the DONATE button on this page to make a 100% tax deductible donation. You can feel confident that your donation will go to an amazing foundation where nearly 90 cents of every dollar will go directly towards the aggressive research initiative aimed at finding a cure for this dreadful disease. Would you like to participate in our fundraising activities? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.