Last weekend we went camping by the approach trail for the Appalachian Trail (AT) in the North Georgia mountains.
It was my first time at the approach after hearing so much about this place for twenty+ years. Growing up in New England, particularly next to the AT, you were familiar with the six-month journey from Georgia to Maine. As a child, it was this nebulous start point in the state of Georgia which was a place you didn’t want to spend a lot of time in for various reasons.
For almost ten years to the day I’ve been living in Georgia, but I hadn’t made it close to the start of the AT until now. It was a goal to visit the trailhead (in some capacity) while living in the Southeast.
Growing Up Next to the Trail
As a child, seeing AT hikers was a frequent occurrence in the late-spring into mid-fall. When I was in high school I would see them walking along the road across the street on their way to the next section of trail. Sometimes they would stop on the embankment for a railroad line and some students would shout out the window at them.
As I got older, I would see them along the road on my way to work. They would come into my place of employment to clean up in the bathroom and re-up their food supplies (it was a great place to shop for the vegan hikers). I never really got into much of a conversation with them as they came through my line, mainly because I didn’t even know what to say. Most left their packs outside, but you could always tell given the tired, dusty look on their faces.
I also hiked sections of the trail, but no more than a few miles at a time. I always enjoyed my time on the trail, but couldn’t imagine what it was like to hike over two thousand miles of the trail.
When I found out what these hikers were doing, hiking from Georgia to Maine, I always wanted to try the journey myself. But I always thought myself incapable due to lack of physical fitness. As I got older, I found the idea of exerting myself every day for an extended period of time fatiguing (I blame my undiagnosed MS at the time).
Now that I’ve made significant lifestyle changes and feel better – the idea of going six months of hard physical labor every day no longer seems impossible. I understand there’s a lot of planning and prepping that goes into hiking the entirety of the trail, but I finally have the confidence that one day I will be able to do it.
I have built up my fitness goals. I completed a half-marathon, but I have the following “someday goals”:
- Run a marathon
- Compete in a Triathlon
- Hike the AT
- Stretch someday: Climb Mount Everest
Having my MS under control will also help my ability to hike the trail. It might take me a little longer than most people, but the more active I get and aware of my daily limitations, I think I could do it. I will have to wait until Jai is older either to take him with me, or he’s out of the house so he can go six-months without needing to see me. Either way, I will need to wait to go with a partner as the trail isn’t safe for a woman to go it alone. I don’t think I could convince Ash to go with me…
In the meantime…
Because it’s going to be several years before I am ready to hike the AT, but I know someone who is currently part of the 2018 AT Class: A Worthwhile Adventure. She’s blogging her journey fairly frequently so it’s enjoyable to see the pictures and read all about the literal ups and downs of her journey. I highly recommend subscribing to her blog to follow her exciting adventure through Appalachia.
What are some of your personal fitness or adventure goals? Would you ever spend six months on such a goal? Leave a comment below.
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Featured photo credit: Michelle Melton Photography