The smell of pine as you enter the forest. The sound of the stream as it gently flows by. The morning dew as it reflects off the ancient oak trees. The sounds of the owls as they “hoo” through the night. These are just a few things that Mount Pleasant resident, Phyllis Sheffer, loves about hiking.
In March 2014, Sheffer began an expedition that carried her from the mountains of Georgia to the peaks of Maine. With nothing more than a backpack and over 2,100 plus miles to conquer, her journey across the Appalachian Trail proved to be the best, and most challenging time of her life.
She’s explored Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa and trekked through Nepal, Tibet, India and the majestic Long Trail from Massachusetts to Canada. There’s little Sheffer hasn’t seen. But, her favorite is the Appalachian Trail. Each year, hundreds attempt the hike of the Appalachian, but few make it to the end.
“I saw so many people leave the trail after a few weeks, but I never had the thought in my mind to quit,” Sheffer recalls.
The Appalachian Trail challenged Sheffer both physically and emotionally. Most importantly, it gave her faith. Sheffer recommends, “If you ever lose your faith in people, you should spend some time hiking the Appalachian Trail.”
She recounts some of her experiences. “I actually had total strangers offer a ride into town or a place to sleep. I realize how great this world really is and how wonderful people are, no matter where they live, how much, or how little they have.”
Daughter of a World War II veteran, widow of a veteran, and mother of a marine, Sheffer comes from a strong military background. And, when she isn’t celebrating her freedom by hiking her way around the world, she’s serving her country through her commitment to the South Carolina State Guard (SCSG).
Sheffer serves as a member of SCSG’s Third Brigade. Managed by the South Carolina Military Department, the Third Brigade is one of three in the SCSG serving the Lowcountry. The SCSG volunteers thousands of hours annually, preparing for and responding to natural and man-made disasters.
“The thing I love most about the State Guard is the opportunity to serve my country, my community, and to learn and grow as a person,” Sheffer says.
Sheffer moved to Mount Pleasant eleven years ago to be closer to her son. She sold the family business in Knoxville, Tennessee, and once she crossed the Ravenel, she instantly fell in love.
“I love the people and the community. It feels like I’m living in a post card.”
Sheffer’s story teaches us the importance of patriotism and celebrating our freedoms through the lives that we lead each day.
“I am so lucky to have the freedom to do anything that I want. My heart is and has always been red, white, and blue.”