NORTH BEND – Two North Bend nurses, in the midst of their midlife crises, are determined to pursue their life-long dreams of trekking the Appalachian Trail, which spans more than 3,000 miles.
Wendy Palmer and Cherie LaTourette have decided to leave their families home and hike from Georgia to Maine, which will take approximately six months.
Both Palmer and LaTourette believe that it is easy to lose sight of what is important in life and LaTourette explains, “This will give both of us the opportunity to reflect on life.”
These two families are incredibly close, with a trail between their yards; and the kinship between the two neighbors has been described as an extended family. LaTourette has three daughters, Jesse, 12, Arielle, 13, and Ember, 18, and her husband Dave who, she explained “is very supportive about this whole hike, and has helped research the trail.”
Palmer is leaving her husband Alan, son Ross, 17, and her daughter Alisha, 12. Palmer discusses the importance for both of them to set an example for their daughters, as an opportunity such as this is irreplaceable, while their daughters continue to develop their characters. “This is such a wonderful gift for our daughters, to teach them that a woman can do anything at any age,” Palmer states.
LaTourette is a native of Tennessee and always has had adventurous tendencies from a young age. While in her youth, she spent a year in Indonesia and since life has became more complicated with the family and work, it has clouded opportunities to enjoy herself as readily. LaTourette simply announces, “I am a workaholic.” She was a nurse at Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound for 13 years, has worked with the Northwest Kidney Center, at a nursing home in Kent, and acted as subacute manager at Kelsey Creek.
Palmer, similarly, is a nurse and has a passion for traveling and exploring. While younger, she was a commercial fisherman, delivered sailboats and traveled around Europe. She is a nurse in the emergency department of Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
Although leaving their jobs behind is challenging, they believe that the trip will help rekindle aspects of life that at times can become overlooked among the midst of the daily regiment.
Physically, to prepare for the rigors of this hike LaTourette explains they “backpack and hike Rattlesnake, Twin Falls and Mount Si with weights in their packs.” They have also been jogging and working out on the treadmill throughout this time of anticipation.
The women, in the final month before the departure date on March 13, have been trying to prepare their families, which is hard to fathom as parents and wives, from what the women explain. “You must prepare as much food as possible for your family, have camps organized for the children and have to realize all aspects of your children’s life which will take course in the six months you are gone,” Palmer says solemnly.
Palmer and LaTourette are prepared for the severity of this, and state they have looked over the statistics as to how many people start the trail and how many people do not finish. Their statistics stated 10-20 percent of the people who begin the trail in March will complete it, 20 percent of the individuals who start are women and 80 percent quit in the first two weeks of the hike. With all of these issues faced and noted, these North Bend women are prepared to face the challenge with integrity.