SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – Starting from Indiana, a woman just passed through Spartanburg’s Mary Black Trail on a hike from Chicago to Charleston.
Founded by hiker Scott Ward in 2013, it’s called the Lakes to Ocean Trail. Irion hopes to be the first thru-hiker to complete it.
She’s hiking 15 to 30 miles a day and says by the time she finishes, she’ll have walked 1700 miles. The trail begins in Chicago and ends in Charleston, but Irion is starting in Indiana and will finish the trek between her starting point and Chicago before the end of the season.
Hiking is more than just a hobby for Irion; it’s a chance to bring awareness to mental health.
Irion was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 4 and began taking Ritalin not long after, which she believes had a long-term effect on her dopamine levels. Hiking is her way of naturally managing her disorder.
“That has helped me stay calm and focused,” she says.
Irion joined the organization HIKE for Mental Health, which donates funds to non-pharmaceutical brain and mental health research and wilderness trail preservation efforts.
“I chose this hike because of its integration with greenways and towns and cities,” she says. “This trail took on America in a whole different way…. because my goal was awareness, this trail gave me more opportunity more than any other to spark those conversations.”
Scott Ward says he designed the trail to go through towns and cities, which allows hikers to “get to know America, and America to get to know you.”
The hike runs right through Spartanburg’s Mary Black Trail, where Irion picked up a new pair of shoes and tried RJ Rocker’s Palmetto Trail Ale. The brewery donates proceeds from that ale to the Palmetto Trail Conservation.
Irion has also thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail. She plans to reach Charleston next month.