In May, we wrote about Conway’s Kelly Hays and her adventures on the Appalachian Trail.
The dietitian and YouTube vlogger, who turned 29 yesterday, walked the 2,190 mile trail for six days in April when, ravaged by pain, she had to be rushed to hospital. One of her ovaries had an eggplant-sized cyst that caused ovarian torsion. Hays underwent emergency surgery to remove the ovary and returned to Conway to recover.
We spoke to her almost three weeks later on her way to North Carolina, where she planned to join her friends and continue her hike to the end of the trail at Mount Katahdin, Maine’s highest peak.
Well, she did.
On October 14, Hays reached the summit of Katahdin. And in November, she returned to where she had had to leave the track in April and canceled the 200 miles she missed while recovering.
“I officially finished my hike at the Low Gap Shelter in Georgia, where I woke up that morning [in April] in terrible pain, “says Hays.” It was a really special and cool time to be in this place months later. It was honestly more special than reaching the top of Katahdin because that’s where I had the satisfaction of knowing that even though this terrible thing happened to me, I just kept going and finished. “
It wasn’t easy when she returned to the track for the first time in May.
“The first few days were a nightmare. I think I was suffering from a hormonal imbalance because I had lost an ovary. I was really getting really dizzy which is not ideal when hiking on ridges and mountains. I think I underestimated how much of a mental game it was coming back. I had to get mentally strong quickly. “
After about two weeks, she regained her track legs. She also found her runway family, which included James Gatens of Virginia Beach, Va., Who is now her boyfriend.
“I couldn’t have orchestrated a cooler love story for myself,” Hays says. “This is exactly how I would like to meet my person.”
Since finishing her hike, she’s edited footage for her YouTube channel, Kelly Hays Hikes, which can be viewed at arkansasonline.com/12trails/.
She has a contract until March to work as a dietitian in Richmond, Virginia, just an hour from Gatens. After that, they will continue their adventures with a trek on the 2,650 mile Pacific Coast Trail.
The time she spent in the Appalachians and dealing with her fear of health helped put things in perspective, she says.
“It’s hard to express, but there is a complete change in your outlook on life and why things happen. On the trail, we made plans but they always failed. You can’t get mad, you just have to go with the flow and be okay with fluid plans. “
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