After 2 weeks of hiking the Appalachian Trail, the question is.... when can I go back?! It is so addictive!! The first week, I did with my Dad and our friend Tom, and the second with my old friend, Fred. We quickly learned how bad ass the thru hikers were. They are the folks that hike the whole thing usually from Georgia to Maine in about 5 months. A lot of them were in Virginia in the same area as us having been hiking since March and working their way north. Most of them doing 25 plus miles a day. We were going south starting in Harper's Ferry, West Virginia, and ending down in the Shenandoah National Park. So, we passed many hikers and met quite a few at campgrounds, shelters, and hostels. It is a funny and fascinating subculture. Everyone has trail names and only goes by that moniker.... like Sock Burn, Cool Tool, Switch Back, Crazy Bear and so on. There is also, in some people, a sense of competition, a cooler tougher than thou sorta attitude, but for the most part, people were really friendly, dedicated to the hike and enthusiastic!!The scenery was so great, ever changing, and ever interesting.... from fields and rolling hills, to rocks and cliffs.... small trees with dense under growth to areas that look like a botanic garden. We saw snakes, turtles, frogs, salamanders, tons-o-insects, birds, many flowers and beautiful growing things, mushrooms and deer. NO bear (but bear poop) ---- so this is why I have to go back and um um um, maybe do the whole thing!!!??Most nights we camped, cooking in my little camping stove. We had to filter water from mountains streams. We walked an average of 8 or 9 miles a day... which sounds really low to me but carrying almost 40 pounds and going up hill about half the time.... that is about all we had day light for. It seems with a month of it, perhaps our miles per day would go up!
It was a very complex experience to try to compress into a blog post... but I am so glad I went, it was very demanding, challenging and even cathartic at times... in the rain with sore muscles and dozens of ticks, but I do strongly feel that everyone at some point should spend a week or more in the wilderness with nothing but the bare essentials on your back... appreciate the simple things, like a hot meal and a tent to get out of the rain in. So, who wants to go next year?