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A Story Of Hiking, Determination And Giving Others Hope...

Nothing could have been more breathtaking than the view of Sharp Top and Round Top on a recent April morning.

It was worth a stop on the Blue Ridge Parkway, where a story was unfolding that easily could have been missed.

Willing to share her tale was Elizabeth Pearch, a 56-year-old grandmother from Eagle River, Alaska who was hiking the Appalachian Trail.

She had taken a break to adjust her equipment at the Taylor Mountain overlook, where the elevation on the east side is 2,340 feet, high enough to view the Peaks of Otter to the east in nearby Bedford County.

Her trek had started in the fall, when she flew across the country from Alaska to Raleigh, N.C., where her daughter, Josie, lives.

Josie subsequently joined her mom and they hope to arrive in Waynesboro in the near future.

After that, mom Elizabeth has plans to hike the remainder of the way to Maine.

"Southern Virginia is no joke," said Elizabeth, whose voice was muffled by Taylor Mountain's whirling wind during an impromptu interview. "There are a lot of 4,000-[foot] peaks there. It's kind of nice being in central Virginia."

She had started out in March at Massie Gap in Grayson County.

"When I first started out, I was lucky to go four miles a day," continued Pearch, who says she was 100 pounds overweight when she started her journey and subsequently has lost 20 pounds. "Now, I can do between eight and 11 miles [a day]. I'm really progressing well."

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