I’ve been hiking since I was two years old.

My dad would bundle me up every fall and take me on a hiking trail.

Living in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia made finding a good hiking trail pretty easy, and it also made me deeply in tune with what it meant to get ready to hike.

I learned from a young age the difference between a pair of tennis shoes and a solid pair of hiking boots.

I learned that it was really important to wear tall and thick socks on a trail path to avoid critters and blisters.

I learned to always pack some water, a flashlight, a compass and some snacks – because hiking trails meant knowing your bearings, staying fueled, and staying safe.

I learned how to pace myself hiking up steep terrain, and how to place my feet parallel to a trail to reduce impact on my knees while hiking downhill.

I learned that hiking required some very intentional preparation and execution.


In three weeks, we will be hiking.  We will be hiking our 5th Annual Hike for Hospice to support the work of Hospice House in our community.

And while our trail might not be akin to the rather steep and rugged Blue Ridge Mountain trails of my childhood, I know that hiking this trail in Governor’s land will take a succinct amount of preparation and execution.

Certainly there are the logistics – the setup, the take down, and everything in between.   This list of tasks is long and wide, and the great news is it’s already being addressed by our amazing team of Hospice House volunteers and staff!

But I think that there is another kind of task that has to happen: this is the task of remembering.

Because when we hike for hospice, we hike in honor of our loved ones.  We hike because we remember the care that they received, we remember the care that we received and we express gratitude for that care and hope that that same care will be rendered for generations to come.  We traverse the trails of memory.

I imagine this kind of task of remembering might feel as comforting as lacing up a pair of hiking boots that have been sitting in the front hall closet for a long time.  I gather it might feel as familiar as the slipping on a pair of thick wool socks or slinging a backpack across a shoulder.  And it might even feel a little painful like taking those slow steps up a very steep rocky terrain, or like the impact that hits your knees hiking downhill for a long period of time. Remembering, after all carries this dichotomy.

But I think that entering into this task of remembering also deeply instills in us the gratitude that propels us forward on our life trails.  For it is in remembering that we recognize the community around us and the hope we have for the future.


As we get geared up for our 5th Annual Hike for Hospice, we invite you this year to remember by sharing your memories of your loved one and your experience with Hospice House & Support Care of Williamsburg, and the reasons you hike with us prior to and during our event.  Join the conversation by simply adding #whyihikeforhospice at the end of your social media posts.

It is a gift to have you walk with us in this journey toward ensuring quality end-of-life care in our community.  We thank you for your support!



Audrey Smith is the Executive Director of Hospice House & Support Care of Williamsburg (HHSCW). HHSCW is a social-model hospice that cares for people at the end of life, comforts the bereaved and empowers others to do the same. The Hospice House itself is a spacious residence that is a home away from home for our guests and their families. Support care services range from companionship in families' homes to extensive bereavement programs provided to families throughout the community. Hospice House & Support Care of Williamsburg is a 501(c)(3) organization that is entirely funded by contributions. No family or individual ever receives a bill for our services and support; nor do we accept Medicare, Medicaid or other reimbursements. For more information or to make a gift, please call Hospice House & Support Care of Williamsburg at 757-253-1220 or visit www.williamsburghospice.org.


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