Hello fellow 365 Mile Challengers. My Name is Susan Torpy. This is my fourth year of the challenge and each year I have enjoyed the challenge more. I have loved being in the outdoors forever it seems and spent my growing up years hiking and camping with my parents and 2 older brothers all around Eastern Canada and the Northeastern US. Jumping ahead a number of years and after completing college I joined the Army medical corp as a Psychologist. I served in the Army for 6 years and was stationed in South Carolina, Oklahoma (twice), Texas, Nebraska (where I completed my doctorate). Then the Army sent my husband myself and 4 month old daughter off to Germany for three years. That’s when I decided to leave the military and become a stay at home mom. What better place for doing so than in Germany. We loved living there and did much exploring.
After leaving Germany we were sent back to Oklahoma for a third time and remained there for several years until I lost my husband. My daughter and I moved back to my hometown in the Finger Lakes/Western New York area where I reside now. My daughter and I traveled all over the USA, Canada and Europe exploring together. My daughter is now grown, married and lives with her wonderful husband in Central Florida.
I retired in 2015 and was determined to get myself back into shape and took up running. The training was not as much fun as the actual running. That 1st year I ran 8 5K challenges setting my sites on completing a marathon. I loved running especially on trails. It is on one of those trails that I had my 1st major injury. That injury and the several surgeries needed put a complete halt to my running and dream of running a marathon. I could still hike, ride my bike and do water sports. I just couldn’t run without extreme pain. I was in a really bad slump. Then in 2018 I saw a link to a hiking challenge to do just a mile a day however you’d like to get that mile in. I figured I’d have nothing to lose so joined up. Those in that group were so inspiring to me that my slump slowly disappeared. Each year since 2018 has been amazing. There are so many amazing members of this 365 Mile Challenge. I credit those in the group for inspiring me and I hope that I have been able to return that favor and inspiration to others.
Not all my miles have been hiking though. I have gotten many of my miles with cycling. Cycling has been one of my passions since childhood. I am not a road cyclist though. I ride on back country roads on a 30+ year old mountain bike I converted to be a hybrid. Most rides are where there are woods or along the Erie Canal here in NY. I like the solitude of cycling and the ability to “get off the beaten path” without fear of causing pain or further injury to my “bad” leg. I find that cycling provides me not only with health benefits but also with healing and hope. I can escape the monotony and angst of the last couple years. I also made cycling goals the last 4 years to raise awareness to childhood cancer. Within those goals I have had sponsors who have helped in the cause. Thoughts of the children keep me going.
Val asked if I had a favorite outdoor memory. I have many but the one that stands out right now is the trip I took with my oldest brother (he was 17 and I was 14). He drove us up to our cousins in northern Ontario, Canada. We had our canoe, camping gear which was ancient compared to what I have now, some food, and a whole lot of courage. We took the train that went north out of Cochrane to the town of Moosonee. The train (at that time it was called the Polar Bear Express) would make brief stops to let people off. Well, we both got off at one of those brief stops. By todays standards we probably would look like a couple of rag tag kids with the little bit of camping stuff we had. The train left and my brother and I were all alone in the wilderness. The next train wouldn’t be back by for a couple days. All I can say about that trip was my love for my big brother and how he showed me to survive in the wilderness increased 10 fold that week. What an amazing but scary time we had adventuring the waterways, catching and cooking our own fish and foraging for berries, etc.
I have also had minor disasters while in the backcountry. Several years ago I was with a small group of students who were working on their college Geology semester project in the Wind River Range of Wyoming. We had been backcountry about 3 days when one of the students fell into the chilly waters of the stream they were taking water samples from. We all gathered together to make a chain to pull this student out of the fast moving stream. She was of course quite cold and reasonably shaken but safe. We averted a dangerous situation by coming together and remaining calm.
I am l looking forward to further adventures next year as these past 2 years put a halt to most of my traveling. I am also wanting to possibly take my bike and ride the rail to trail as I have always wanted to engage in bike packing. Maybe next year will be that year.