Day: October 26, 2016
“The crazy duality in our #piggyback adventures is there is one person who is physically incapable versus one person who may think they are physically incapable. But the beauty that lies within the two mindsets is there is a common dream, which bonds two people together step by step to achieve a common goal.”- Spencer Wyckoff
Day two began with an early rise, a chilling air and a gusty wind. Marshall started the day off by cooking everyone an awesome breakfast with eggs, bacon and grits. Shortly after, the team embarked on what would be their toughest stretch yet, an 8.4 mile hike to Gooch Gap with 3 added team members – Joe, Clay, and Tyler (and Shea the dog!).
While a bit sore from Day 1, Spencer Wyckoff, the notable “flag-bearer” took charge by carrying Carden the first leg of the trip. What followed was a consistent team effort where Marshall Mosher, Vestigo’s captain, took Carden on a steady push. Next was Carden’s Dad, followed by Joe, Tyler, Clay, and Virginia. Before long, the team was a few miles into the trip. While no end in mind, the team trucked forward.
One of the breakthroughs of Day 2 was creating an efficient system to take Carden off the harness and pass her along to someone else to keep the group moving. It was taking between ten to fifteen minutes to make the transition from one person to another on the first day. The team figured out that while someone was carrying Carden on the harness, another person would then take her and go “bareback” for shorter sprints.
The person who previously held the harness would let someone else put it on while someone took Carden on the bareback. This allowed for transition times to be reduced by roughly ten minutes per stop. This hybrid strategy improved dividends not only on time, but the physical impact on Carden, and the morale and camaraderie of the group.
As the group continued forward, there was a sign that left everyone a bit deflated. It read, “4.8 miles to Gooch Gap.” Spencer remarked, “this was definitely the low point of the day for me. It seemed like we had already gone so far, the GPS was telling us we’d gone further, and we weren’t even halfway to the campsite.” But, keep in mind the resilient bunch who were behind the idea of doing this from the start. Nothing was going to stop Marshall, Carden, and Spencer from moving onward.
Then there was a moment where the journey took a turn for the worse. It was a daunting memory that Spencer would ensure didn’t happen again. “We made a mistake when we were transitioning Carden to another body. Instead of using the 3 foot orange tripod we were setting her down on, we put her on a slanted log. All of a sudden we heard how much pain she was in being in such an uncomfortable position.” Spencer’s voice describing this moment only showed how much he cared about his sister and how to make this arduous trek as easy as possible for her.
The team’s high of the day was when they arrived at Gooch Gap around 6 pm, after almost seven hours of hiking. They did not just arrive to an empty campsite though, they arrived to a campsite where Sarah Isabel Wall’s (Marshall’s Girlfriend) Parents, C.K. and Susan were waiting with hot bowls of fresh chili for the team. It was just the refuel the team needed, eating quietly, devouring every bite until they were full in the stomach for the first time in a long time.
After dinner, Marshall’s roommate and officemate, Bryan Wish arrived to bring in some cooking supplies and support on Day 3 of the walk. The profound moment of the day was a moment only half the campsite heard. Bryan, Marshall, and Spencer were sitting around the campfire talking about their careers. Spencer began asking Bryan and Marshall about their businesses and why they started. Spencer began discussing his work at Home Depot and the great benefits and perks of the job.
Before long, Bryan said to Spencer, “well, what’s your dream?”
Spencer replied, “the tough thing about my dream is that it may be unattainable. I have a sister with a disease that I can’t stop from worsening.”
Goosebumps rattled down everyone’s spine, and there was a long pause.
Soon after, Bryan brought up a recent conversation with a group of medical students he had met at MIT where they discussed how some of the biggest breakthroughs in medicine have come from private enterprise. Marshall chipped in with a similar comment.
Before long, the “What if” of the moment started creeping in. We started questioning the system, being bold, and asking, “why do we give our money to nonprofits for FSH where there is no transparency for where our money is going?” There has to be a better way, a solution.
Soon the question was asked, “What if we started our own company and figured out how to solve this problem ourselves?”
The seed of an idea was planted, and Day 3 was only going to get better. #CardenCan
The Day 2 Crew:
How many of you would be crazy enough to take a stand for a cause you were committed to changing, by walking the whole section of the Georgia Appalachian Trail, especially when for the entire 79 miles, the special person you are raising awareness for had to be carried on your shoulders?
That special person is Carden Wyckoff, former University of Georgia student and current professional at Salesforce, who battles FSH Muscular Dystrophy. Simply, Muscular Dystrophy is a long term physical disorder that deteriorates the strength of the skeletal muscles.
So how did this crazy idea come together in the first place? Athens-based startup Vestigo works to empower the outdoors by inspiring local trips for outdoors guides to take people in the community for an experience that will challenge and push you outside your comfort zone. When Marshall heard about Carden’s condition, there was nothing more he wanted to do than to help through a mission he works to serve everyday.
Marshall believed he could do something extremely special and meaningful which led to the idea to embark on a crazy adventure. After three months of planning, working with partners, and helping Carden and her brother Spencer get ready, the significance of this event became even bigger. They realized were fighting for a cause bigger than any one person, but for an entire community of people who battle FSH Muscular Dystrophy every single day.
Day 1 of Piggyback Adventures
The Piggyback Adventures began on a blistering cold Saturday morning on October 22nd. First day trek: 7.4 Miles. It was 35 degrees Fahrenheit with wind gusts up to 25 mph. Not your ideal conditions to begin a 79 mile adventure. Like the weather, Carden’s brother Spencer Wyckoff seemed a bit uncertain but said with uncanny confidence, “I was nervous, uncertain, but ready.”
Since 2014, Spencer has been carrying Carden on his back in various events such as Tomorrow World and Spartan Races. But this adventure was different. Hiking and camping for 9 straight days would be quite the test. While Spencer has been the main person carrying Carden on his back the past two years, he realized that he would need to place trust in the other team members to carry his sister to the finish line.
Within the first two miles of the adventure, four different people had to carry Carden on their back. Little did they know how hard it would be to support Carden on the harness that was custom built just for this trip. Carden’s sister, Virginia Wyckoff said, “the hardest part about day 1 was getting the harnesses set, so much stopping and starting, figuring out how to make the towels work to make Carden more comfortable and adjusting as we went. Before long, we figured out how to make Carden more secure against our back by using a bungee cord that wrapped around Carden’s back so she didn’t flop around.”
Simply, there was not so much a plan for how this was going to work or even if the harness would hold up. You would think with Spencer being a Georgia Tech graduate, he would have lined up some mechanical engineers 3 months ago. Spencer felt it would be best to build an MVP prototype first, and then have his friends help.
While the group got off to a rough start the first two miles, the group was propelled by when Carden’s sister Virginia marched forward with Carden on her back for almost a mile. This was a big confidence booster to all the boys on the trip. What followed was Marshall putting in the headphones and carrying on for almost a mile.
Spencer’s mindset gained a big mental boost from watching this unfold before his eyes and truly stepped up to the plate next. Carden’s father also played a big role carrying Carden and made a big push for about 30 minutes. This was a team effort and no one was backing down. Before they knew it, the group entered the camp site around 7pm on a high … perhaps the first high of the day.
While the day started with the team having no idea how they were going to carry Carden on the trail, they had such a strong reason why. This greater purpose has been pushing them towards an end goal bigger than themselves. At the end of the day, that is what mattered. This is a special group, and they are making history step by step. #CardenCan
7.4 miles down, 71.6 miles to go
Special Thanks to the Day 1 Crew:
Spencer Wyckoff, Carden Wyckoff, Virginia Wyckoff, Sarah Isabel Walls, Marshall Mosher, Dad, Ben, and Chris