On the Trail

Winter Edition 2023/2024 | Living Power Magazine

george preiss

George Preiss hasn’t always been the outdoorsy type. When he began his career as a middle school language arts teacher, he befriended a colleague who kept inviting him to go camping, but he always declined. Finally, Preiss decided to accept the invitation and to his surprise, ended up loving the experience.

“Driving home from that first trip, we crossed the sign indicating the Appalachian Trail, and I was like, ‘What is the Appalachian Trail?’ I’d never heard of it,” Preiss says. “My friend explained that it was a 2,000-plus mile continuous trail through the Appalachian Mountains. And I told him, ‘We’ve got to do that.’”

Over the years, Preiss began to see hiking the Appalachian Trailnas a goal for retirement. And when he wrapped up his teaching career in December 2022, he set his sights on finally making the hike a reality. Though he maintained an active lifestyle of walking and biking around his home in Wilmington, NC, Preiss says he didn’t do much hiking prior to tackling the trail.

“I showed up cold turkey, and I’d say a quarter to a third of the people I met on trail had a similar story,” he says. “This was their first hike. So it’s not that uncommon for people to get this idea in their head and do it.”

Preiss did other prep work, though, purchasing all the equipment he’d need on the trail and planning his trek to maximize the best possible weather conditions. On March 11, he set out from the southern entrance of the trail, in
Springer Mountain, Georgia. From there he spent the next 201 days—minus some breaks to nurse injuries—traversing the Appalachian Trail through Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania,
New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.

Preiss says that one of the biggest misconceptions about hiking the Appalachian Trail is the belief that you’ll be alone in the forest the entire time. While he certainly enjoyed plenty of peaceful solitude hiking and camping through the wilderness, the journey also included stops in trail towns along the way where hikers can rest and replenish supplies.

After completing his trek in September, Preiss says he has gained a greater appreciation not only for hiking, but also his ability to face a challenge.

“I realized pretty early on that I’m a very determined person, and when I commit to something, I’m going to finish it,” he says. “But I’ll never do a six-month hike again with that magnitude. I did learn to love hiking, and I’ll love to go out for a week at a time and go see some new places in the United States—it’s going to be really fun.”

Living Power Poised to Be Bigger and Better

LivingPower November/December 2023

Army General James Van Fleet once said, “I’m always willing to accept change, as long as it isn’t change for the sake of change. If that change will result in a better way of doing things, then I’m all for it.” NCRGEA feels confident he would have agreed with the changes coming to Living Power.

Starting in January, Living Power has a completely new look and feel with a different publishing schedule — in its new quarterly magazine format. While continuing to keep members informed on matters that are important to them, Living Power will have more in-depth articles, more photographs, and a more user-friendly layout.

“The new magazine will provide us with a great format for telling the story of the positive impact that those who have worked in local and state government continue to have on North Carolina and our economy,” said Tim O’Connell, NCRGEA Executive Director. “It will allow us to better inform our members, recent retirees, and lawmakers on the ins and outs of pensions and healthcare plans.”

He added, “In addition, the magazine will allow us to present information in a more visually appealing format and provide content that complements our digital communications.”

In her role as Community Liaison at NCRGEA, Deryl Davis-Fulmer focuses on the many ways NCRGEA members are active in their local communities and in state-wide organizations. Regarding the new magazine, she is excited about the opportunity it provides to “shine a light on their accomplishments and maybe inspire others to get involved with their communities.”

Current feature columns along with new content enabled by the expanded format include:

  • NCRGEA Executive Director and Board of Directors President columns
  • State Treasurer’s column
  • Contributions from various Council of State members
  • NCRGEA member profiles
  • District Community Connections column
  • Calendar of upcoming NCRGEA events
  • Puzzles and games that will provide opportunities to engage and win prizes

To complement the new quarterly schedule of the magazine, other communications channels including social media, email, and the NCRGEA website, will be used to provide late-breaking news and timely information to members. The magazine will be available in both print and digital formats, so look for the print version to arrive in the mail and sign up for the digital version if you have not already done so. The digital magazine can be accessed via email or on our website.

Look for these exciting changes to Living Power coming in January and be sure to read to stay informed about all the ways that NCRGEA is advocating for and informing you. Get ready for change — not for the sake of change, but for a better way of doing things!