My name is Niki Rellon, and I’m a trained chef, a paramedic, a boxing and kickboxing champion, a ski instructor, and a motivational speaker. I’m also the first woman to have hiked the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine on a prosthetic leg.
I was born in Germany, but I’m a U.S. citizen now. Shortly after I came to America, I logged more than 15,000 miles on my bicycle as I rode from Alaska to Mexico City, from the west coast to the east coast, from Key West to New York City. In 2006, I hiked the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada, a journey of 2,600 miles that lasted six months. And then in 2013, disaster struck, and my life was forever changed.
While I was rappelling down a canyon wall in Utah, I fell out of my harness and plummeted 45 feet to the rocks below. The fall broke a vertebra in my back, fractured twelve ribs, cracked my sternum, collapsed a lung, shattered my pelvis, mangled my middle finger, and made splinters of my left leg. My foot was so badly damaged that the doctors had to amputate my leg below the knee.
Most people probably would have given up on extreme sports after such a horrible accident, but I opted to push on with my life. Against the advice of doctors, friends, and family, I decided to hike the Appalachian Trail just over a year after my amputation. Armed with hiking poles, a new prosthetic leg, and bags of determination, I set out on the journey of a lifetime. Nine months later, I became the first woman to hike the entire Appalachian Trail on a prosthetic leg.
I’m currently writing a memoir about my accident, my rehabilitation and my recovery on the AT. The book is calledPush On: My Walk to Recovery on the Appalachian Trail, and it will be available on Amazon.com this autumn.