Thursday, March 24, 2016

appalachian trail

The Appalachian Trail. 

I did not expect the endless beauty of the trail. I did not expect the energizing feeling I had even after hiking everyday until I thought my feet would fall off. I did not expect the dozens of fascinating and kind people I met, all wanting the same escape into wilderness. I did not expect the mountains to actually be "mountains" (but when you're carrying a 35 pound pack on your back even a small hill becomes a mountain). I did not expect to miss the trail so much when I left.

I spent spring break hiking a section of the Georgia AT, from the approach trail, to Springer, and all the way to Blood Mountain. The day before the hike we all sat around with piles of our gear strewn across the living room, figuring out how to fit everything in our packs, sorting through things we didn't actually need, and wondering how we were going to carry all that stuff on our backs for so many miles.

Appalachian trail
The drive to the approach trail in North Georgia was exciting. As we got closer, the mountains became more and more prominent. We were going to be in them soon.

We threw our packs on our backs and headed out on the trail. Now if you haven't heard anything about the approach trail to the AT, it's about 7 miles of constant climbing and descending, and it is hard. In fact, we talked to a ranger on the second day of our hike and he told us that if we could do the approach trail, we could do the entirety of the Georgia section.

It was such a relief when we finally reached the top of Springer mountain, the official beginning of the AT. This was our first night at camp. It was a foggy and damp evening since it had rained earlier in the day, but we still managed to get a fire started. It was beautifully eerie, as we sat around the fire surrounded by a dark, misty forest on top of the mountain. The clouds cleared by nightfall, so we had a starry sky to sit under and enjoy the excitement of our first night on the trail.

I was completely unprepared for the enormous challenge the second day would bring. I knew we had 14 miles planned for the day, but I did not know exactly what those 14 miles included. The first 4 were a breeze. We traveled through tunnels of green, hopped on rocks across streams, and passed waterfalls and springs and so many beautiful sights. We found a perfect log to stop and sit on for lunch- but we didn't want to stop for long since we still had 10 miles to go. By 10 miles in, I was pretty tired. My feet hurt, I was getting low on water, and I had no idea what was coming. We still had two mountains to climb (and that was after 10 miles of hills that could probably also be considered mountains). I stood at the bottom of the first one wondering how I was ever going to make it. But I had no choice, so I trudged on. And then began the real test on my endurance.

When I finally descended the second mountain, I felt numb to the pain and exhaustion. All I could think about was making it that last mile to camp. When I finally reached camp, I almost couldn't believe it. My entire body ached, and I passed out in my tent not long after the sun went down.

I thought I was going to be too sore to continue after that second day, but the days following I started getting into a rhythm with hiking, and I felt great. I knew I could face whatever the trail gave me. The days were long but the sights were beautiful. And there's no better feeling than reaching camp and ending the day with warm food and a big fire. No emails to check, no phone calls to catch, no worries except if that blister on your toe will feel better in the morning. I was starting to realize why thru hikers put themselves through 2,000 miles of this. 

On our last day we climbed the highest mountain in Georgia, and as I was standing on the rocks looking out into the Appalachian mountains, I felt like I had accomplished the impossible. I couldn't imagine how I would feel if I had completed the entire AT. As dirty and tired and sore as I was, I was sad to say goodbye to the trail. I had gotten into a routine and it began to feel like my normal life. 

On our drive back home, I don't have the words to express how I felt after looking back at the mountains I lived in for a week. I knew this wasn't the last time I'll be seeing the AT. In the future I want to make the AT my home for a few months, not stopping until I reach Katahdin.

I hope these photos conveyed at least a little bit of how incredible this trip was. If you've ever thought about hiking the AT, go do it. Even if it's just a section, I promise it will be worth it. Getting out into the wilderness for a little while is the best way to refresh your life and reconnect with yourself.



  1. Oh wow, I admire your endurance and strength! You all are literally radiating out of the photos, it's beautiful! I haven't gone hiking in years, so this post motivated me to pick it up again :) I'm so excited!!
    I hope you have a nice day xx

  2. Beautiful Photos! It looks like you guys had a blast. I was immediately taken back to my favorite camping trips while reading about your adventure with your friends. Thank you so much for sharing!

  3. Hey Jordan,

    Great article, loved it! Thanks for sharing :-)

    I recently published a definitive guide on "How to Hike the Appalachian Trail". Mind if you have a look and share your thoughts on it?

    Here's the link:

    Thanks in advance,