The Appalachian Trail: Part One

Hiking the Appalachian Trail as a through hiker for me was a dream come true. It had never occurred to me to hike the trail and one night in November 2008 I had a dream. It was so clear it had to be an aberration. Next morning all things and thoughts changed. I called the president of the Maine Chapter of the Appalachian Mountain Club and asked if he knew of anyone who had hiked the AT. He said yes and gave me two names. That night I talked to a man whose trail name is Fig Newton the first of two people on the list. I never had to talk to anyone else. Fig and I talked a long time. Near the end of our conversation, Fig said I think I need to come see you at your house. It was an all day of helping me. It gave me four months to get ready and I needed that time. We met again in March before I flew to Georgia and began my hike. I was as ready as I could be and I was a very excited woman to be off on such an awesome adventure.

Before I started on the trail, I had never camped alone or set up a tent alone in the wilderness before. This adventure was a totally new experience for me. I think my family thought I was crazy but I am determined and once I set my mind to something I will do it. I learned so much and to succeed you need to go as light as possible. A heavy pack is not good and I worked at making the load lighter. Eventually I sent my stove home and didn’t cook any hot meals. This was not an easy choice and I lost 50 pounds in four months and tried to eat as much as possible. My bear bags froze a couple of times and I ate as I walked eating nutrition bars and drinking purified water from springs and streams. I had no idea how long it would take me do complete the trail. I am a slow hiker but steady and I hike nonstop from dawn to dusk. I took one zero day in 4 months of hiking. The hikers who kept the same pace with me were young men in their 20’s. When I began each day they were still sleeping, then they would pass me by mid morning and go into a shelter for lunch. Usually shelters were off the trail a short distance. I would pass on by and keep on hiking. By mid afternoon my young hiking friends would pass me again and remind me where they were stopping for the night. I kept on hiking until dark and at a good clip and usually made it to a shelter. Once in a while I was too tired and it was too late and I would set up my tent along the trail. I liked my tent, it was warm and dry and protection against snakes, bugs and mosquitos. Many times I set my tent up beside or near a shelter and a couple of times when no one was around to share a shelter I set up my tent inside a shelter.

I found the people, along the trail, helpful and wonderful. The hikers were great, fun, helpful and trustworthy. The people, who helped me along the way, were unbelievable kind and supportive, it was a very long hike and I made many friends. It was the longest time I have ever been away from home. Nature was grand. The elements were ever changing and often were a great challenge. There were times of lows and when I would be down, something unbelievable would happen and everything changed. I didn’t get sick or hurt, even though I fell a few times and I had bad blisters. I hiked through 14 states over 2,175 miles from Springer, Georgia to Mt Katahdin, Maine. It was one of the greatest experiences in my life! What great experience have you had? Share it with all of us.