On May 7 there was a buzz in the air about a woman with a pair of horses walking through the center of Emporia. Sarah Murphy, of Afton, was nearly a month into her journey to Robeson County, N.C. in protest of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline before returning to her Afton home. On Aug. 16 the journey came to an end.
“I Just wanted to take a moment and let you know my two horses and myself returned home safely from our 1,000 mile ride along the proposed Atlantic Coast pipeline route,” she said. “The Associated Press picked our story up as we neared completion and it spread both nationally and internationally.”
The four-month trip was actually the second of two Murphy made in protest of the pipeline. Nearly a year ago she made another journey by horseback from Staunton to West Virginia and back home. She finished that journey shortly after Christmas.
She walked both horses at times. In the morning rode Rob Roy, a 25-year-old Percheron In the afternoon and early evening Murphy saddled on the younger UFO, a retired 5-year old racing horse. The trip was change from home for the horses. Murphy said they would graze for approximately 18 hours at home. She made frequent stops to let them graze during her latest four-month adventure.
As Murphy came through Emporia she said she ran into people on both sides of the pipeline issue. For the most part she was treated with respect by those with an opposite viewpoint on the pipeline. She believes people see her with the horses and it changed the tone of how she was approached.
A journey by horseback from Staunton to Robeson County is not for everybody. It was difficult at times for Murphy, but help was afforded by the kindness of people she never met before along the way. She spent the night on the farms of strangers, camped or stayed at inns.
The 36-year old said she sometimes questioned why she was making this journey that took her through many extremes of weather, but for the second time in a year she plugged along and completed the course she set for herself.
“I grew up in the mountains and I don’t want to see anything bad happen to the land I love,” Murphy said. “I want to bring attention to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. A lot of people say it’s a done deal, but I don’t think it is. If all the land hasn’t been purchased, why are there eminent domain cases going to court.”
Whether or not Murphy’s voice is heard and the pipeline is halted remains to be seen, but she has certainly brought attention to her cause with the aid of UFO and Rob Roy through an adventure that peaked the curiosity of people from the Shenandoah Valley to the southern end of North Carolina near the South Carolina border.