Sisk going for 150 miles in five days

Helena resident Donnie Sisk, the youth pastor at the First Baptist Church of Pelham, is celebrating his 50th birthday by hiking, cycling and rowing 150 miles in five days. (Contributed/Donnie Sisk)

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

As First Baptist Church of Pelham Youth Pastor Donnie Sisk’s 50th birthday approached, he began to think of a way to combine some of his favorite things into just a few days.

When he was done planning, he had compiled an itinerary filled with some of the most challenging activities he has ever attempted.

Beginning Nov. 20, Sisk, a Helena resident, will hit the southern end of the Appalachian Trail to spend five days hiking, biking and paddling a total of 150 miles.

After he backpacks over Tucker Mountain, Sisk will bike 50 miles along the Chief Ladiga Trail before paddling 50 miles along the Terrapin Creek.

The journey, which Sisk called “three 50s in five days,” will be a way for him to celebrate his birthday while pushing himself to the limit, he said.

“I began thinking about turning 50 years old. That’s a half-century,” Sisk said. “I feel like this is my last shot to do something like this. “I don’t think there will be a ‘55s for 55’ or a ’60s for 60.’

“I love doing all of those things, but I just don’t get a lot of time to do them,” he added. “I love nature, and I love being outside. And everything has been so beautiful outside lately.”

One of Sisk’s friends will complete a portion of the journey with him, and will help shuttle him to the different stages of the challenge.

“Especially when you are paddling, shuttling is a big deal,” Sisk said. “When you get out of the water, you may be miles from your car, and you don’t want to walk all the way back.”

Sisk, an avid backpacker and outdoor enthusiast, has been putting in training time at Oak Mountain State Park over the past few weeks to prepare for the challenge. Still, he said he is “a little apprehensive” about completing the task.

“It will be a challenge because of all the different muscle groups I will be using,” Sisk said. “That first day won’t be too bad. It will be that second stage after my legs get sore.

“I love challenges, but this will probably be one of the last ones I will do,” Sisk said with a laugh.