EPIC is the only appropriate word to use for my first backpacking experience. I don’t even know how to put into words all that this trip has meant to me. I thought I was going for a walk in the woods, but really I was heading out for a brief journey of self discovery, achievement and resiliency.
Why was it great?
The beauty. Sometimes it was the 360 degree view of the expansive mountains and vistas. Or the forest floor covered in wildflowers here for their Spring performance. At times it was the way the light played through the trees at just the right angles setting everything aglow. Or the views as I lay in my tent watching the moon set the mountains in shadows and the sun rise and peek atop those same mountains in the morning.
The people. Adventure seekers that were filled with warmth and a genuine desire for everyone to “hike their hike”. Open and authentic and welcoming. The AT community was a new one to me and yet I felt like I’d been a part of it my whole life.
The challenges. Climbs that made your muscles weak and your lungs breathless. Unrelenting winds gusting at 45-50 miles an hour making everything hard including standing as you use your trek poles to make sure you stay upright. The temperature swings that have you digging in your pack one moment searching for fleece, just to strip it all off a few miles later. A failing water system that leaks your limited H2O reserves everywhere but in your belly. Challenges that expose your vulnerability, show what you’re made of and somehow only add to the magic instead of detract from it.
If you have ever considered backpacking, I would 5 out of 5 stars recommend. Train, prepare and learn…then start your walk!!! These pictures do so little justice to the experience I’ve just had but still a peak into the magic of the Appalachian Trail.