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PLEASANT GARDEN, N.C. — For Danelle Hallenbeck the trails at Hagan-Stone Park hold a special place in her heart.

“I went through a life transition, so I started walking,” said Hallenbeck, who walked a thousand miles her first year and made some discoveries along the way. “The first time I found a heart-shaped rock was here along the paths … first one, I was like this is a symbol of love and hope.”

She started looking for other places to hike and discovered the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. “It was something I really wanted to do.”

Hallenbeck documented her journey on social media and broke the trail up in sections, some parts she hiked and some she paddled.

“When out there you meet yourself where you need to meet yourself,” she said. Her experience touched her so much she wanted to share and started a nonprofit called “Whispers of Nature.”