As I trod along through the forest, two things are running through my mind. The first is an endless loop of the song “Far over the Misty Mountains” from the Hobbit. The second is “Oh god, why did I ever agree to go hiking? I don’t even like hiking that much!” These thoughts come at about mile #6 in our poorly informed and exceedingly long hike on the Appalachian Trail.
Our hike began on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon as a spur of the moment decision. My brother’s casual, “do you want to go hiking?” resulted in a long day. What he thought was going to be a casual 5 or so mile hike, became 12 or 13 miles across two different mountains. The walk started out pleasantly, as we drove to the top of the mountain and started out confidently into the woods. We walked the path, cut some walking sticks and saw some deer. The Appalachian Trail runs from Georgia to Main and covers 2,161 miles so there are tons of campsites and rest areas along the trail. We found about 5 of them and each was pretty cool, with homemade benches, fire pits and shelters. All was well and good and the walk was downhill.
Now I have a terrible sense of how far I’ve traveled on land (in the pool is a different story). I have to run on a treadmill because otherwise I’ll run 0.3 miles and call it a day because, hey, it felt so much longer. Anyway, we traveled what we thought was a good distance and reached the first landmark sign. It read, “10.8 mi to State Park.” This, of course, was our destination and where our ride would be waiting for us, so there was no escaping the walk that lay ahead of us. After getting over our regrets at not actually looking at a map before we left, we took a deep breath, tightened our backpack and then kept moving.
Once we reached the sign that told us that there were still 7.5 miles left in our hike, (after what seemed like 5 miles) my brother probably thought I was going to murder him with my only weapon, aka the walking staff that we had cut. The truth is, I wasn’t mad at him, I just get really cranky when I’m tired and it always, always shows on my face. The real problem was that I’ve been stuck in a library for the past 2 months studying and barely getting 2,000 steps per day. Saying that I’m not in shape doesn’t even begin to cover it. Finally, reaching the sign telling us we had 2.5 miles left, we began to see the light at the end of the tunnel. (which is funny because there was actually a tunnel made of mountain laurel) Throughout our hike, my brother and I sang marching songs, made up screenplays and talked about school, which all provided a nice distraction and some bonding time.
After loads of rocks, 4 steep inclines, approximately 43 times stubbing the same toe, 5-10 almost falls and lots of grumbling, we made it! 4 hours and 12 miles later, waking up this morning was a little bit rough. I knew I would be sore but waking up with aching shoulders and painful legs was not fun. All I have to say is, major props to the people who walk the whole damn trail because I could barely do 12 miles, and thats no where near even 1% of the trail. You go trail people, you go. I’ll be cheering for you from my bed.
Until next time!