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From The Highlands To The Coastline

Connecticut Law Tribune

February 10, 2010

Hartford lawyer Beth Bryan Critton has always been adventurous. She was once a police officer in Wethersfield and served with the American Red Cross in Vietnam.

But about 10 years ago, she began to see the world a different way – on foot. It all started simply enough. Critton is the mother of four adult children. In 2000, her 18-year-old son hiked the entire Appalachian Trail.

Critton served as his “mail resupply person,” making sure her son had provisions waiting for him at post offices along the route. “I was intrigued by the idea that someone could hike from Georgia to Maine,” she said.

Intrigued is an understatement. Inspired might be a better word. A year or so after her son’s trek, Critton hit the ground walking. “Perhaps influenced by movies like “Braveheart,” she said, “I had a compelling desire to hike in the Highlands of Scotland, and pursued it.”

And just like that, she said, “the whole world opened up.”

Since her trip to Scotland, she’s hiked the Inca Trail to the famous ancient city of Machu Picchu in Peru. She’s walked along the coast of Cornwall in England and through the rain forests of New Zealand. She’s hiked through the canyon country of southern Utah, on California’s Sierra Nevada mountains and in the lush Pacific Northwest.

“This August, I will be doing the Tour du Mont Blanc,” she says, referring to a famous 100-plus mile trail that winds though the mountains of Switzerland, Italy and France.

But to hear Critton tell it, the hobby is not about walking. It’s about experiencing everything along the way.

“Even the best bus tour does not expose you to the array of sounds heard in, for example, a New Zealand rainforest, the permutations of light and shade experienced on a wooded trail, the opportunity to see wildlife,” she rhapsodizes. “It’s very different to walk through a field of wildflowers in the Colorado Rockies than to see them at a distance from a bus window.”

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