By S. J. Brown
This Blog began in May with a phone call from my daughter. She was looking to cross something off her bucket list and wanted me to accompany her. By the end of the call we had a plan to hike a section of the Appalachian Trail complete with tents, sleeping bags, food and water. Since my daughter like me is directionally challenged this is quite an undertaking for both of us.
I originally planned to write a single blog detailing my prep for this trip and the hike itself. However I doubt anyone would sit and read a blog that long. So I am splitting this into 2 blogs. This one will cover my prep for the trip and the beginning of our journey. My next blog will cover the final leg of our trip.
The first thing I needed to do was get in shape. Yes I hike to capture critters on film. But this was a longer distance and I would be carrying everything I needed with me.
I began by walking ½ a mile to the end of our street. I should mention that the hill just up from the house kicked my butt everyday for the first 2 weeks. Once I had concord that hill I began adding distance. Eventually I was up to 5 miles. Those five miles included 4 hills.
The next phase of my self imposed training was to add a backpack. I had never worn one before so I needed to get use to it. I began with my tent and sleeping bag attached. Then I added weight to the backpack each week.
At the suggestion of a friend I searched on line for hikers who had completed our route. Some made me a bit skeptical about attempting this, while others encouraged me and helped with some valuable information.
Meanwhile my daughter was training for a half marathon. I was sure she was much more prepared than me and continued to push myself daily hoping not to slow her down on our hike. By the end of August I was as ready as I was going to be.
I packed my backpack and put it on, and my heart sank. Then I remembered I still had the weights in there from my training. After removing the weights and repacking the backpack I knew this would be a challenge, but I could do this.
On the eve of our excursion my backpack was down to less than 20 pounds. We had a map of our route complete with landmarks and an elevation chart. Thanks to some fellow hikers we knew where we could refill our water bottles and where we were going to camp for the night. We allowed ourselves 3 days to complete our hike.
When our hiking day finally arrived our planned starting point wasn’t accessible so our first challenge was getting onto the trail. However we had my hubby dropping us off and he is really good at this sort of thing. So within minutes we were at the South Mountain Inn parking area. We strapped on our backpacks as a gentle rain fell. Just after 8 am we said our goodbyes and my daughter and I made our way onto the Appalachian Trail.
Guided by a series of white hash marks we wandered into the woods and left civilization behind and began to enjoy the tranquility of the trail. This leg of our journey had the most elevation and would be the most challenging for both of us. As the rain subsided we longed to reach our first peak and the well deserved rest we had promised ourselves. We had heard stories of snakes and bears along the trail but encountered neither. We did get a glimpse of a coyote and maybe a fox.
The Appalachian Trail is well marked most of the way. At the first road we encountered we experienced a few minutes of concern. We weren’t quite halfway to the shelter where we planned to spend the night; it was much too early in our journey to be lost. Finally we spotted that prized hash mark that told us we were still on the trail.
The next few miles were a mix of elevations speckled with occasional breaks and lighthearted chatter. We arrived at the Crampton Gap shelter at 1 o clock and decided it was way too early to stop for the night.
This seems like a good place to stop, for now. Come back next month and find out how our journey turned out.
Thanks for stopping by and letting me share my thoughts.
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My books, Close Ups and Close Encounters, All the Birds I See, Clancy’s Cat Nap. Bennie the Butterfly and two coloring books based on my images are all available through my website http://www.sjbrown.50megs.com.