They meet and love to hike the Appalachian trails.

In movies and television shows, “meet-cute” is the term used to describe the first encounter between two characters, ultimately leading to a romantic connection.

Mikaela Kostrubiak, 28, and Ben Van-Kooten, 32, have a fascinating and courageous story about how they met while hiking over 2,000 miles along the Appalachia National Landscape Trail. ..

The adventure that started it all

The couple’s love story began in 2017 when they literally crossed a trail on a Berks County hamburger trail. Five years later, Ben and Mikaela are now life and business partners.They run an organic farm called Passionate about micro green In the same town they first met.

“We didn’t know each other before we started hiking,” said Mikaela.

In fact, they grew up in two different states. Without a trail trip, they might never have met.

Ben is from a small Dutch community in Pella, Iowa.

“The first time I went to the East Coast was to hike through the woods for seven months,” Ben explained.

Mikaela is from this area and grew up in Harleysville, Montgomery County. Unknowingly at first, the two began a once-in-a-lifetime adventure within a few days of each other.

The Appalachian Trail is said to be “the longest hiking trail in the world”. Appalachian Trail Conservancy Website.. The trail begins on Mount Springer, Georgia and ends on Mount Katahdin, Maine. Traveling 14 states along the Appalachian Mountains for a total of 2,190 miles.

Millions of people visit the trail. This is often referred to as AT, and each year thousands of people attempt 2,000 trips called “through hikes.” According to the Conservancy website, only one in four completes a complete trip.

On March 2, 2017, Ben began trekking 2,000 miles from Georgia. Just a few days later, Mikaela embarked on the exact same journey on March 11.

“My aunt and uncle drove me 14 and a half hours from Iowa and dropped me off at Springer Mountain, Georgia. I met Mikaela 1200 miles to Pennsylvania,” Ben said.

After Michaela and Ben met on the trail in Hamburg, they were together to the finish line.

“After that, we hiked together every day,” said Mikaela.

The inspiration behind the expedition

Ben and Mikaela each had their own reasons for wanting to complete a through hike on the Appalachian Trail.

As a child during a family vacation, Mikaela hiked Mount Katahdin, the end of the Appalachian Trail.

“That’s where my love for hiking began,” she said.

It was her parents who drove Mikaela to Georgia for the beginning of her journey, and they hiked the first few miles with her.

While attending West Chester University, Mikaela was driven by a strong urge to hike the entire Appalachian Trail.

“I had this now or never panicked. I felt like I had to do it after graduation. Otherwise my life would get in the way and I would never do it. “I will.” She said.

Mikaela returned to Harliesville after graduating from college in 2016. She saved money by doing part-time work until it was enough to start her adventure on the trail.

“I think it’s the best I’ve ever done,” said Mikaela.

Ben shared that he was in the rough upbringing and trekking along the Appalachian Trail happened at a very important time.

“I was at a really important point in my life that didn’t really prove myself,” he said.

Ben said he was intrigued by the difficult challenge of hiking 2,000 miles.

“The high probability of failure really motivated me because I knew how good it was to feel successful,” he said.

Life on the trail

A 2,000 mile hike requires physical and mental strength. Ben said he was carrying all his belongings. He had minimal necessities such as tents, sleeping pads, clothes, and credit cards to buy supplies when needed.

For most of the seven-month trip, Ben and Mikaela camp along the Appalachian Trail. The shower was a luxury that only happened when I went to town every three days or so.

The couple hikes about 20 miles daily and then visits the nearest town.

“We arrived at a road intersection and actually hitchhiked into the town, where we did what’s called a town tour,” said Mikaela.

The couple bought back food in the town, did the laundry, and spent time with running water.

Ben said that many of the towns that cross the Appalachian Trail are rural. Mountain range hikers bring tourists and income to the town.

“You really feel good about joining these communities and helping them support them,” Ben said.

Trail community

Ben said it was an honor to meet a community of people on the Appalachian Trail in addition to visiting the town’s community.

“You find what the hiking community calls your trail family,” he said.

Ben said different types of people hike the trails. People of all ages will be exploring the road from different parts of the United States and even from other countries.

“You meet so many people from so many different steps of life,” said Mikaela.

Ben and Mikaela personally began their trail journey, and the trail family grew in the process. They found others participating in the hike and arrived at their destination with other hikers who became friends along the way.

final destination

After seven months of trekking through the woods, Ben and Mikaela achieved their goal on October 2, 2017, at Mount Katahdin, Maine.

“It was just a rush of emotions,” said Mikaela.

She really lost her word as she stood on the top of a mountain with a magnificent view of the clear blue sky.

“It was just a big sense of accomplishment,” said Mikaela. “Every day until October 2, I was aiming to be at that moment and at that time. Then suddenly I was there.”

Ben said that the full weight of what he had accomplished came to him after leaving the mountain. Ben said he began to examine his feelings that night as he drove off the trail and saw the city lights.

“When I realized I wouldn’t return to the Appalachian Trail, and I realized that this was done and completed … it hit me,” he said.

Ben said he had experienced post-trail depression. He was trying to overlook the simplicity and true community he experienced along the Appalachian Trail. He said no one complained whenever there was a storm.

“You are together. There is such unity and motivation because all of you are trying so hard to do something,” Ben explained.

He said it would be very difficult to leave such a support system and return to a challenging world.

“So many people were having so many difficulties and so many things,” Ben said. “It was just sad.”

Lessons learned

Mikaela was always aware that she was a female hiker who started a through hike alone. She has learned to rely on herself and trust her instincts throughout her journey.

“I think the only important lesson I learned from thru hiking was to trust my gut,” said Mikaela.

Ben said that all his lessons are related to understanding what is needed for true happiness.

“The biggest thing I’ve learned is that you need four things in your life to be happy. I don’t need all these extras. I need food to keep my stomach full. , We need water to keep moving, we need shelter to get out of the rain, and most importantly, we are good companions, “he said.

“You can do everything in the world, but if you celebrate alone, you’re lonely,” he added.

Fortunately, Ben and Mikaela were able to celebrate one of their greatest achievements together and found a unity of their love in the process.

For more information

For more information on the Appalachian Trail, including tips for completing a thru hike, visit: those who aren’t ready for a 2,000 mile hike on the trail, Take It Outdoors Adventures “Introduction to backpacking” Classes along the Appalachian Trail. The course takes place in the fall of the Swatara Gap section of the trail. For those interested in volunteering and caring for the Appalachia Trail Section of Pennsylvania, Keystone Trail Association or Blue Mountain Eagle Climbing Club..

They meet and love to hike the Appalachian trails.

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