Tomorrow, March 14th, represents a special day for me. Nine years ago tomorrow, I stepped off on the Appalachian Trail in Georgia. Six months and eight days later (September 22nd) I finished with my last step on the summit of Mt. Katahdin in Maine.
What a Journey! I had prepared well and enjoyed the trek despite many days of rain and lousy weather. I’d retired early from the corporate world and actually began the hike the morning after my last official day of employment. I met many diverse people including hikers from Canada, Germany, England, and New Zealand. I’ve made lasting friendships with some of the hikers I met, and one maintains a quarterly newsletter for all A.T. thru-hikers that year.
Some hikers, like myself, went on to hike other trails–the PCT, CDT, and the Long Trail in Vermont. While the arresting beauty of the PCT is always with me, it’s the Appalachian Trail that I hold most dear. You meet more of the hiking fraternity on the A.T. and the shelter/campsite system is convenient. There are also many beautiful spots on this trail. It looks like I may never complete the CDT, but if I did have the time, I would consider another thru-hike of the A.T. Maybe in another lifetime.
For all the hikers out there who have begun or are about to begin their thru-hike north from Georgia to Maine, we wish you well. My main piece of advice is to not hike too much, too soon, too fast, no matter how good a shape you are in. Build yourself up and settle into a rhythm. This helps you also with the mental piece of a long thru-hike. During those many miserable days of cold and rain you won’t second guess your goal if you back off a bit and don’t rush pell-mell. As they say, take time to smell the flowers.
- The Triple Crown Hiking Trails (takealonghike.com)