Wednesday, May 29, 2013
It's always been a dream of mine to hike the AT, ever since I read Bill Bryson's book "A Walk in the Woods" two decades ago. I knew it was unrealistic to think I could backpack 2,100 miles, so when I saw this trip we HAD to sign up.
There are 20 of us, mostly women. Three married couples, one man here without his wife, and the rest women: single, divorced, widowed, or without their husbands.
The first day we rode in 2 vans for nearly 2 hours to get to a spot in Pennsylvania to hike. We are led by a "ridge runner" who is a person employed by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy who patrols sections of the AT. His job is to talk to all the thru hikers, make sure they are OK, and gently question them about where they are camping, how they are getting rid of their waste, etc. Keeping the trail clean and reducing the environmental impact is a huge mission of the AT Conservancy.
Yesterday we hiked over 10 miles in a section of Maryland, and today we do about 9 miles on the "roller coaster" section of Virginia. Today is supposed to be the most strenuous hike, and the hottest day of the week! (Of course.) Our sections are picked for their historical significance, the buildings we are able to see along the way (old mills, monuments from the Civil War, a 150-year-old mansion that's been turned into a hikers' hostel, etc.)
I am proud to say that I am keeping up like a champ with the hiking, and TC and I are always in the group that is able to keep up with the guide. Yay us!
Each evening, after a hot and delicious dinner, we have a guest speaker. The first night was a member of the AT Conservancy who told us the history of the trail, how the land was acquired, how it became a national park. The second night was a presentation from a young man who actually hiked the whole 2,100 miles from Georgia to Maine and wrote a book about it. He's now a special ed teacher in a town nearby.
Last night was a presentation from a retired professor on edible plants. I hope they don't make us forage for our lunch today!
We've met and talked to lots of thru hikers, mostly in the shelters where we eat lunch. They are an eclectic group, mostly young but some retired. Yesterday we encountered 34. We are around the halfway point of the trail.
So that's it so far, doing fine, eating too much great food but what can I say? It's hard to pass up. We'll be back in our trailer and back to normal eating by the weekend.
Take care, Fellow Sparklers!