Some people make the decision to take life one step at a time, and some people, like Harding alumni Jeremy Bohnett and Anna Bohnett, take that quite literally. After Anna Bohnett graduated in 2012 and Jeremy Bohnett graduated in 2013, the two decided to live out their adventurous spirits within their marriage. Anna Bohnett loves running and has completed several marathons, whereas Jeremy Bohnett loves hiking and completed the Appalachian Trail in 2010. According to Anna Bohnett, they decided to marry their passions: if Jeremy Bohnett would run a marathon with her, she would do a long distance thru-hike with him.
“We started planning our hike when we found the Te Araroa Trail in New Zealand,” Anna Bohnett said. “First of all, it’s New Zealand – what better place to do long-distance hiking? Secondly, it worked out with our timeline perfectly because the seasons are opposite. We decided we would do whatever it took to begin the Te Araroa December 2015 and we made it happen.”
Harding alumna Holly Bohnett, Jeremy Bohnett’s sister, said that hiking the Te Araroa is a beautiful bookend to Jeremy Bohnett’s story of hiking the Appalachian Trail.
“It’s pretty awesome that he now has Anna (Bohnett) to adventure alongside him and they can do something so extraordinary together as a couple,” Holly Bohnett said. “I am so proud of them, and slightly a bit jealous that they get to do this.”
According to Jeremy Bohnett, they started the Te Araroa on Dec. 3, 2015, and are expecting to finish around April 20, 2016. They recently completed the northern island, which is over halfway through the trail (1700 kilometers). They said they are hoping to be done with the southern island before the rainy season begins at the end of April. When they finish, they will have hiked 3,000 total kilometers.
Jeremy Bohnett said that his favorite thing about the Te Araroa Trail, thus far, has been the people that he and Anna Bohnett have met. They hike through towns often and need places to stay, so they ask the locals to stay at their houses.
“The Kiwi hospitality is like nothing I have ever experienced,” Jeremy Bohnett said. “It is like Southern hospitality but even more, because they will do it for complete strangers. I’ve also loved the relationships with other hikers. We understand each other and what each other goes through.”
According to Anna Bohnett, the hardest part of the trail for her has been the physical pain of hiking 20 miles per day on average. She said there is not really a way to physically prepare for a long-distance thru-hike beforehand because you get into shape on the trail. She said she never knew that her body could ache or hurt so badly, even after completing marathons. She said the Lord has been faithful through every hardship and Jeremy Bohnett has been so encouraging.
Holly Bohnett said she contributed to their trip by creating their website, www.bohnettwego.com, where anyone can read about their story and follow along with their blog, which they update regularly throughout the trail.
People can also donate to HopeWorks, Inc., which is a non-profit organization that serves under-resourced individuals through outreach programs in Memphis, Tennessee. Anyone can do a one-time donation or a “per-mile pledge” on the “Hike for Hope” section of their website.
“Hiking the Te Araroa has been an amazing experience full of growth, individually and together, for Jeremy and (me),” Anna Bohnett said. “Life is full of adventure on the trail. The landscape in New Zealand is absolutely breathtaking, but our favorite part of the trip has been the relationships we have made with the people we have met and other thru-hikers. We have formed a wonderful community and there is nothing better than to be known and loved. The Lord has been so faithful through the journey.”