Deb Mille' has survived Lung Cancer, having her big toes fused, and lives her life for today because we are not guaranteed tomorrow! Tune in as she shares all about it with Jester!
After listening this week to Jester's newest member of her Class of 2022 Section Hikers you are going to be inspired to start planning your next section hike A.S.A.P. Deb Mille' has survived Lung Cancer, only has 80% of her lung capacity, and if that's not enough she just recently had her big toes on both feet fused. Deb also lives in the reality that we are not guaranteed tomorrow, so start hiking!
Thanks for listening and Happy Section Hiking!
Jester's Class of 2022 Section Hikers - Playlist:
Connect with Deb Mille':
Trail Journals: https://trailjournals.com/infinity2022
Connect with Julie "Jester" Gayheart:
Gear Lists & More: https://solo.to/jestersectionhiker
Music for the Podcast provided by:
The Okee Dokee Brothers - "Through The Woods"
I am currently retired. I started backpacking in 1974 with a trip to South Manitou Island in Michigan. The trip was a disaster, but I was hooked and I never looked back!
I have backpacked almost every trail in Michigan, one third of the John Muir Trail, the Wonderland Trail, the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal, the Inca Trail and the Ausangate/Rainbow Mountain treks in Peru, Grand Canyon, 1600 miles of the Appalachian Trail, and a trek in Thailand. I have also hiked sections of the Florida Trail, Buckeye Trail and many trails in the Smoky Mountains. I have also backpacked at Big South Fork Recreation Area and Red River Gorge.
I was blessed to work at a job that allowed me to do what I loved. I worked at the University of Michigan leading backpacking and climbing trips for students for many years and as a team building facilitator in their Adventure Leadership program.
I also worked for 33 years for a local nature center as their Challenge Program Director overseeing a high ropes course, climbing wall and low ropes teams course. At this facility, I wrote curriculum for their Environmental Education programs and developed a Global Village in conjunction with Heifer International (a development organization).
I started the AT in 2009 with the intent of thru-hiking, but a stress fracture took me off the trail in Virginia. I have been making my way north ever since!
My trail name is Infinity which was given to me by fellow hikers when I started the AT. I was always the first person to hike out in the morning and I carry a small Buzz Lightyear on my backpack, so they yelled out one morning "To Infinity and beyond!"
In 2019 I was diagnosed with lung cancer. Since I had never smoked, this was a shock. My surgeon had to remove the upper right lobe of my lung which resulted in 20% loss of lung capacity. Of course, my first question was will I be able to still backpack! The surgery was April 4 and in August I hiked the Ausangate and Rainbow Mountain trek in Nepal reaching over 17,000 ft.
The past few years as I have continued to backpack, my feet had become more and more painful. I finally went in to an orthopedic specialist and he told me my large toe joints would have to be fused in place because of the damage to my toe joints. My left foot was operated on November 2021 and my right was done in February.
I have three children and 8 grandchildren. Three of my grandkids have shown an interest in backpacking and I have already taken them on several trips!