By Andrea Hirsch

A group of Plainfield United Methodist Church members recently put aside the conveniences of the modern world to hike a portion of the Appalachian Trail. The seven-person group spent a week hiking a 50-mile section of the trail in the mountains of Virginia. The group, led by Associate Pastor Kevin Wrigley, carried only the necessities of water, food and shelter on their backs.

This was Wrigley's 15th trip on the trail and his group this year included two father-and-son teams, his wife and a retired teacher.

Jan Shaffer, a retired Plainfield school teacher, said she had a great experience and added that it was the most physically-challenging thing she has ever done in her life.

"The weather was perfect," she said. "The scenery was spectacular. I have been in the Colorado mountains before, but I never get tired of the view. It's truly amazing to be up that high."

Shaffer said one of her most memorable moments was interacting with Ben Meyer, a 26 year-old medical student in the group.

"Ben usually reached the summit ahead of most of us," she said. "One particular long uphill climb, Ben put his pack on the top of the mountain and hiked back down a half mile or so to find me. He told me my lucky number had been drawn to have my pack carried up the hill. He took the 30-pound pack off my back and went back to the top; he was waiting for me when I got there."

Although Shaffer had an amazing time, she said she doesn't know if she would make a return trip to hike for a full week. She said she would love to go back and complete shorter trips.

"It's just nature, you, and surviving," Shaffer said.

Andrea Hirsch serves as a reporter for the Hendricks County Flyer were this story first appeared (Copyright c 1999-2008 cnhi, inc.).