Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Simple Footpath

One of the perks to my reunion weekend in Maine was catching up with my lovely friend Karen who, not only lives in Portland and is recently engaged to be married, but she spent 6 months last year hiking the entire Appalachian Trail! While living in Portland for a short while, I spent a lot of cozy times with Karen and, aside from watching re-runs of "Beverly Hills 90210" and eating copious amounts of Thai food (Bangkok Thai, anyone?), I remember her telling me her future plans of hiking the A.T.

At the time, I could barely imagine how anyone could accomplish such a feat. I mean, get a load of this mileage:

It's far, no? Anyway, I should have known that Karen would be that person. Her energy is boundless, as is her ability to inspire with an accomplishment such as tackling the 2,178 mile trail from start to finish. Here are a few fun facts:
  • The Appalachian trail is the first completed national scenic trail, designated in 1968.
  • It crosses six other units of the national park system.
  • The trail traverses eight national forests.
  • It touches 14 states and houses more than 2,000 occurrences of rare, threatened, endangered, and sensitive plant and animal species at about 535 sites.
  • Lowest elevation: 124 feet – near the Trailside Museum and Zoo at Bear Mountain, New York
  • Highest elevation: 6,625 feet – on Clingmans Dome in Tennessee
  • It takes approximately 5 million footsteps to walk the entire length of the Trail.
Fascinating, right??? Needless to say, I'm obsessed and Karen is a rock star! My first night in Maine I stole her away for a minute (or mo-o-re) to look at her photo albums documenting the trek, while simultaneously grilling her about this epic 6 month adventure. She began in March at Springer Mountain in Georgia and finished in September at Katahdin, the highest mountain in Maine.

This picture of Karen was the one that gave me chills. She looks so happy and content. It's exactly how one should appear while they are following their path.

These photos were taken on Max Patch, an A.T. summit in North Carolina. I can say with certainty, I want to be on it.

Talking to Karen made me want to hike the A.T. (oh so badly) and now I have an itch that just won't go away (and it's not from the mosquitoes, I tell you, although they did have quite the lovefest with my right ankle).

Considering a go at the Appalachian Trail is definitely something I can safely think about in ways that are both goal-oriented and dream-like. I could really use the kinds of challenges and triumphs that come with such an emotional experience as setting out on an almost 3,000 adventure all on your own! How liberating! Just imagining the journey makes me feel alive...what more could you ask for? Seeing how Karen lit up talking about the trail, made me yearn for a similar zest, a lively rush! It will come, I know it will...


  1. you have to read A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. It's soooooooooo funny and it is about his hike of the AT with his out of shape buddy.

  2. i'm so curious about the trail. sounds amazing!

  3. 2178 miles! Now that is inspiring, I would love to do that. Karen looks so peaceful in that photo. I can just imagine all the wondrous things shw saw. What a lovely post. L x

  4. wowww. i can't even imagine hiking the AT! to me, it sounds scaaarrry. that being said, i am kind of a wimp when it comes to camping. you would probably get some good writing and reading out of it though... :)

  5. I want to start hiking again. I stopped when I realized that hiking has made my calves bigger...:( but I am not sure if it's me who didn't stretch enough after the hike..

  6. wow sis - so inspired. love "this is how you should look when following your path"

  7. lovelovelovelovelove this entry!!!