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Hiking the AT

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

It's always been a dream of mine to hike the AT, ever since I read Bill Bryson's book "A Walk in the Woods" two decades ago. I knew it was unrealistic to think I could backpack 2,100 miles, so when I saw this trip we HAD to sign up.

There are 20 of us, mostly women. Three married couples, one man here without his wife, and the rest women: single, divorced, widowed, or without their husbands.

The first day we rode in 2 vans for nearly 2 hours to get to a spot in Pennsylvania to hike. We are led by a "ridge runner" who is a person employed by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy who patrols sections of the AT. His job is to talk to all the thru hikers, make sure they are OK, and gently question them about where they are camping, how they are getting rid of their waste, etc. Keeping the trail clean and reducing the environmental impact is a huge mission of the AT Conservancy.

Yesterday we hiked over 10 miles in a section of Maryland, and today we do about 9 miles on the "roller coaster" section of Virginia. Today is supposed to be the most strenuous hike, and the hottest day of the week! (Of course.) Our sections are picked for their historical significance, the buildings we are able to see along the way (old mills, monuments from the Civil War, a 150-year-old mansion that's been turned into a hikers' hostel, etc.)

I am proud to say that I am keeping up like a champ with the hiking, and TC and I are always in the group that is able to keep up with the guide. Yay us!

Each evening, after a hot and delicious dinner, we have a guest speaker. The first night was a member of the AT Conservancy who told us the history of the trail, how the land was acquired, how it became a national park. The second night was a presentation from a young man who actually hiked the whole 2,100 miles from Georgia to Maine and wrote a book about it. He's now a special ed teacher in a town nearby.

Last night was a presentation from a retired professor on edible plants. I hope they don't make us forage for our lunch today!

We've met and talked to lots of thru hikers, mostly in the shelters where we eat lunch. They are an eclectic group, mostly young but some retired. Yesterday we encountered 34. We are around the halfway point of the trail.

So that's it so far, doing fine, eating too much great food but what can I say? It's hard to pass up. We'll be back in our trailer and back to normal eating by the weekend.

Take care, Fellow Sparklers!
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  • no profile photo CD4357551
    What a great adventure for you - and you made it all possible by your focus on getting healthy! What an inspiration you are for me!

    I'll be waiting to hear more about your adventures!


    2736 days ago
    What a wonderful adventure you are on. Aren't you glad you worked so hard getting into shape? You are now capable of enjoying this great opportunity. Kudos to you and your determination.
    2737 days ago
    What an Awesome time!!
    2742 days ago
    What an interesting way to see various parts of the trail complete with background information. I enjoy hearing about it!
    2742 days ago
  • SUGAR0814
    Have fun & be careful!! emoticon
    2742 days ago
    Now THAT's what this is all about. Getting fit and doing cool things!
    2742 days ago
  • BUTTERFLY-1976
    emoticon So jealous
    2742 days ago
    Sounds super! One year DH and I walked the entire length of the C&O Canal in segments as we had time. We saw the C&O in all seasons. I'm not a thru hiker. In general, I'm a day hiker. I love to walk/hike a route that will allow me to experience the best an area has to offer, then retreat to my hotel (or home) for a hot shower and a good meal.
    2742 days ago
    2742 days ago
    Sounds great! Another interesting read is the entries at http://www.trailjournals.com/journa
    ls.cfm - you can follow all sorts of thru-hikers, see where they are now, what they're thinking - you may find some folks you've met! We gave a lift to a guy at a trailhead once (he was not feeling well) to get home to his parents, and he mentioned his trailname - was nice to "see" him get back on the trail later that season.

    2742 days ago
    So exciting! Hope we'll get to see some photos sometime soon.
    Enjoy the hikes!!
    2742 days ago
    I am so jealous!!!!LOL
    2742 days ago
    Wow this sounds amazing. I have never heard of this before and what a sweet story PMRUNNER added.

    Good luck to you on the rest of the hike!

    2742 days ago
    I LOVE Bill Byrson and have read all his books. My elder care client who just passed away at 98, the history professor, was an avid hunter and a trailblazer in Maine and Vermont. I read A Walk in the Woods to him the year before he died.
    2742 days ago
  • NANCY-
    I love how you are living your dream.

    Thanks for the great visual on you and TC foraging on the AT for food. I can see you both ... turning over rocks, picking greens and fungi. Oops you'll have to be vegan... I think the wildlife might be protected. Heck you might find some eggs.
    Just think if we all had to forage for our food. YIKES!

    Hopefully the canopy of trees will help keep it cooler for you.
    2742 days ago
    Wonderful! When I was in college, a friend of mine was starting the AT from ME to GA and was nervous about starting alone. I did the first 120 miles or so with her, from Katadin to Munson. It was a lot of fun and so beautiful. We met a lot of characters along the way. When she made it into NH, I joined her for the traverse over the presidential range. She ended up making it into VA before she stopped. I lost track of her and hope that she had a chance to finish the rest of the trail at some point.

    One of the sweetest pairs that we met was a 70 year old mom with her 40 something daughter. The mom and dad had started section hiking the trail when he was stationed in GA and close to retirement. They made it a hobby to hike together one weekend or week at a time. They made it about 80% of the way together before he passed away due to cancer. By then, their daughter had hiked a bit with them and the daughter helped her mom finish the last 20%. By then, the daughter had about 40% of the trail done, so the mom was helping the daughter finish. The mom carried a little trinket on her pack as a reminder of her husband who was with them in spirit. They were not going that fast, but they were steady.

    I have done about 10% of the trail and I have been interested in hiking more of it for a long time. Now that the kids are getting bigger and we will live very close to where it crosses the Hudson River, perhaps I can get them to section hike parts of it with me!

    Take care, happy hiking! Thanks for sharing and bringing back the memories!
    2742 days ago
    2742 days ago
    Oh wow how I wish I was with you!! But hearing about this trip second hand is next best - and makes me determined even more to hike some of the AP!! We've hiked a very short way on it where it begins here in Georgia on Springer Mountain, but somehow never took the time to do more than that. We need to make it a priority!!
    2742 days ago
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