Sorry I’ve taken so long to post everyone. It’s been a crazy, busy couple of weeks (and will continue to be so until we start school in September). But anyways, finally, my post:
One of my favorite hobbies is backpacking. I really don’t know why. Because, honestly, what you do on a backpacking trip is walk–up and down mountains–carrying packs on your back until every last muscle in you aches. And then you keep going because that’s only around 3 o’clock in the afternoon and you have till 8:30 before the sun goes down. Well, at least, in that part of Virginia. The bottom of your feet hurt, so much that you know exactly where every bone is down there and exactly when each one touches the ground. Every fiber in your flatland-trained muscle groan as they push you up yet another hill, and another, and higher and higher all for one thing.
To see this.
And every now and then, there are weird people like me, my dad, my sister, and my cousin that would rather hike up mountains to actually see it ourselves than to sit here and read about someone else who did it. Someone weird who talks to their feet: “Don’t worry. It’s not that farther. Believe me, the first thing I’m going to do when I get there is sit down and get all this weight off of you.” And then proceeds to say the same thing to their calf muscles and then to their quads, then to their hips, and then again to their feet. Someone weird who likes to walk and walk and walk. Someone weird who likes to camp out under the stars with the bears, rattlesnakes and huge spiders. Someone weird like me.
And that’s why the Appalachian Trail exists.
What is the Appalachian Trail?
I am so glad you asked!!!
The A.T., as it’s known, starts on Springer Mountain in Georgia and then continues on the border of North Carolina and Tennessee, then goes up through Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and then takes the border of New York, weaving in and out through Connecticut, Massachusetts, and then heads off through Vermont, New Hampshire and ends on Mount Katahdin in Maine, making it a 2,180 mile long trail. It is maintained purely by volunteers, making it the biggest volunteer organization around.
And we did that all last week. The entire trail. That’s why I wasn’t around, ya know?
At least, I wish. It takes dedicated thru hikers, people who hike the entire trail in one trip, around 5 to 6 months to hike it all. My sister, S., and I walked about 26 miles, going back up to McAffe’s Knob to see the morning sun, and my dad and cousin, R., walked around 25 miles. That took us three days. The last night, we met some thru hikers who had been walking since Georgia and went all of what we went in one day. That kinda gets you down a little, believe me.
The first day we started out at 3. We had to drive there, and then, after driving 7 hours, we got stuck behind a painting truck. A slow painting truck that was going exactly ten miles an hour. And Dad’s GPS said that we had exactly 10 miles to go. But there was nothing we could do. We turned on some fiddle and banjo music and anxiously waited for the hour to pass by. Luckily, after three miles or so, they had to pull off and refill or something so we were able to pass.
So at 3 o’clock, we got there: happy, energetic, excited. And we walked up a steep incline. And by the top of that, we were: not so happy, not so energetic, and not so excited. But hey, we only have 8 miles, right???? And so we didn’t call Mom to come back and pick us up and we kept walking. But it wasn’t that much further when we suddenly realized that we forgot our Nalgene bottles!!!! We had water bladders, so it wasn’t that big of a deal, but we wanted to be able to carry more water on the second day. So we called Mom and she came to meet us at 311, the last road we would meet up with for another three days. It was there that we met W. He was from Texas. He didn’t know where any of the shelters where and so, we said he could hike up with us.
And it was there, at 311, that we saw the news.
The water at Campbell’s had dried up. The next source of water was at Lambert’s Meadow Shelter, a good 4 miles further. Past McAffee’s Knob…meaning, more climbing. A lot of climbing.
But we made it and made it to McAfee’s Knob right at sunset, capturing the picture above and one of our stove lighting up in the dark. 😉 Doesn’t it just look awesome?? And believe me, it looks a way more gorgeous when you’re tired, starving and that is the ticket to a nice, hot meal to end the day with. I think it was worth the extra weight for that meal. Although we didn’t do something right with that meal and our Mountain House Mac and Cheese turned into Mac and Crunch. Half of it was normal, the other half was kinda crunchy. 😉
The next day, my sister and I hiked back up to McAfee’s Knob in order to see the already-risen sun shine over the valley below. It was worth every step we took!! The valley stretched on and on, the sun shone down, casting rays on the lucky few who traveled up for this sight. You couldn’t see cars, you couldn’t see roads; the only signs of civilization you could see where brightly colored roofs and some power lines other to the east.
My sister and I hiked back to the campsite to find that Dad and my cousin had fallen back asleep! So we woke them up and had our breakfast. It was a good campsite actually. There was PLENTY of water in a cistern and no bears. 😀 At least that we know of. Each of us was exhausted so a bear probably could have torn down our bear bag, roaring and screeching, and we wouldn’t have noticed. We slept good!!
The beauty of the Lord surrounded us out there. Everywhere we looked, it was amazing views and greenery. Green leaves shifting in the wind above us, lush wood plants underneath the trees. Cliffs and outcropping overlooking green valleys. What a place it is that God created for us on those seven days!!
The third night, we woke up to see a HUGE spider inhabiting the shelter with us. :O It won. We moved to the tent! 😀 That day, we hiked the final stretch to Daleville, where we were picked up by Mom and some cousins to be taken to the family reunion.
It was an amazing hike. If anyone even remotely likes hiking, my words of advice are “WHY ARE YOU STILL SITING HERE????” Pack up and go, but be warned, the place grows on you. When you leave, you leave part of yourself behind, sitting on top of that rock gazing over the valley.
I’m glad we got the chance to go.
For the third time.