Archive for August, 2015

Appalachian Trail Section Hike

This summer I completed hiking the Appalachian Trail about 2179 miles. It took me 18 years to complete. I first had the desire to hike the entire Appalachian Trail when I was 15 after having gone on a church youth AT hike in North Georgia. When I moved to Southwest Virginia in 1991 I realized I was only 30 minutes from the trail and I started organizing day hikes with the Appalachian Trail Club at the college where I taught. On one of these hikes I took a colleague named Mickey and she fell in love with hiking. She said to me one day, “I want to hike the entire AT.” I told her that that was a goal of mine also and she said “let’s do it.” We started our AT hike in the summer of 1997 at Springer Mountain. During the winter we trained by daily walking to and from school together which was about 4 miles. Our first hike we did was with her dad Frank who turned 70 on that trip. Later Mickey and I hiked all of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Massachusetts by taking one car doing day hikes. We would do a section by hiking towards one another and pass the keys off.  At the mid-point of our hikes we would eat lunch together. She always hiked with her golden labrador retriever named Sandy. We would camp together near trail heads or at local campgrounds. In 2005 I had planned on hiking most of Maine with Mickey but on my second day out I stepped on a wet root and fell and broke my wrist. Mickey completed the trail that year. My youngest son Forrest hiked most of Vermont with me, hiked West Virginia and Maryland with me and later a lot of New Hampshire. He also went on many Virginia hikes with me. My oldest son hiked this year with me as I finished the AT with a hike our final day hiking Mt. Katahdin. Summiting Katahdin took us 3 ½ hours with only one 10 minute break. I think the adrenaline was flowing with us that day. One summer I could not go because I spent a month in China and another year I build an art studio over the summer. Since Virginia has almost 500 miles I was able to do a lot of Virginia during Christmas and Spring Break with friends. I did not hike in the years 2006, 2008, 2011, 2012, and 2013.  Mickey hiked with me 530 miles, a friend named Dan 650 miles, and Forrest 442 miles.  It took me 189 days to hike the entire trail averaging about 11.5 miles a day.  I have some incredible memories of the AT and kept a journal for most of my hikes. It felt really good to finally touch the sign on top of Mount Katahdin.


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