Paul, Taran and I hike 71 miles over 5 days along the Appalachian Trail. Carrying only what we can fit in our backpacks, we walked anywhere from 15-21 miles a day up, down and around the Appalachian Mountains. We carried along with us a tent, two sleeping bags, an ultralight stove and enough pastas, granola bars, potatoes and snacks to last us for 5 days.
Some highlights (and low-lights) include:
- Sleeping in shelters infested with rats
- Our first two days with only the water that we had on our backs due to dry rivers and streams
-Bob from the Kincora hostel who was truly an inspiration and went out of his way to help us
- Watching Paul drink tainted water and throwing up after
- Eating lunch along the spine of a ride line with an incredible view in every direction
- Texas Pete and his hilarious story
- Scout, the stray dog that someone left with him.
- Climbing for nearly four hours in a torrential downpour up to Big Bald, while I pushed along with an injured knee.
- Limping along with Taran on the fourth day as his knee decided to give out as well
- Climbing and sitting in a tree down the mountain and looking out into the valley below
- Devouring pizza as soon as we got into town after 5 days in the woods.
This was truly an unforgettable and eye opening trip for the three of us. I think the best way to sum up the trip is to share our last trail journal that I wrote on our final night in the wilderness.
"This will be the last night on our 5 day trek from Hot springs to Erwin. It has been an incredible journey and far more exhausting both physically and mentally than I could have ever imagined. Even though we had to cut the trip short, our days on the trail were filled with both misery and tear inducing highs. Not only have we grown closer as friends, but we have all grown closer to what is most important in our lives. It is a beautiful thing to be able to take part in something much bigger than ourselves, this experience has been undeniably humbling. We have felt more pain than people back home will ever feel. We have felt real hunger, real thirst, real misery and a profoundly new outlook on life, and through it all we have never felt so alive.
It is our hope that everyone traveling along this trail is moved in some way as we have been, and truly get to know what it means to feel "alive".