I feel this joy’: Olympic champion Clara Hughes on finding liberation and reconnecting with herself on the Appalachian Trail
“Being a champion is not just about winning,” says six-time Olympic medalist Clara Hughes. Believing that actions off the track define us as much as those on it, Hughes inspires people toward success in all areas of their lives. Her candid, personal talks range from how she believes sports can change lives to her struggle with depression—fully embodying the idea that each of us can overcome challenges to become the champions we’re meant to be. Earlier this spring, Clara set out on a hike on the Appalachian Trail…a journey that quickly captured her, and one that she finished this week. Below, the National Post chronicles her path:
As ever, Clara Hughes cannot do half-measures. The only athlete to win multiple medals in both the Winter and Summer Olympics, Hughes had already cycled across Canada to raise awareness for mental-health issues. But she wanted to follow up with a less public pursuit — hiking.
Her husband, Peter, is an accomplished hiker, having walked the entire 5,000-kilometre Continental Divide Trail in 1994. They planned to take six weeks in the winter to hike part of the Appalachian Trail, a 3,500-km trek that runs from Georgia to Maine. Then, in the spring and summer, Hughes would do a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail.
“That was my plan,” she says. “I just fell in love with the Appalachian Trail. I laughed at myself because I should have known I’m incapable of not finishing with what I start.”