Hiking the Appalachian Trail
Apr 02, 2015 04:42PM
Several years ago, I backpacked a portion of the Appalachian Trail for the better part of a week, alone. The hike was part adventure, part introspective journey and part of a larger goal. Having lived alongside the AT for many years, I’d done many day hikes on the local portion of the trail and was looking for variety as motivation to get out on the trail consistently. I decided to do a combination of day hikes and overnight trips on various legs of the trail and hike my way through Pennsylvania in segments, because a “Thru-Hike” wasn’t a commitment I was ready to make.
It was a beautiful morning in early September. The air was warm and the leaves had a barely noticeable tinge of autumn color under way. My brother drove me to the border at High Point, New Jersey, and said, “I’ll see you later in the week.” I tugged the belt of my full pack and set off along the worn path from the trailhead. No more than 10 minutes into my adventure, I stopped short with a start as the bushes rustled loudly in front of me to the right. The path curved to the left, so I scurried quickly along and started yelling loudly, “Hey Mr. Bear!” over and over again as loudly as I could, while moving in the opposite direction from the retreating bear, which was running in the opposite direction.
After a few minutes of scurrying, I was out of breath and my heart was racing. What had I gotten myself into? I pushed onward with a glance or two over my shoulder and there were no more bear sightings on that trip. After four days and three nights on the trail, I returned home with sore muscles, mild hunger and a smile on my face. It was time well spent, reconnecting with myself and nature.
Even if you’re not a hiking enthusiast, you’ll enjoy Randy Kambic’s article in our Wise Words section as he profiles the healing journey of Paul Stutzman along the entire AT.
My goal of hiking the trail throughout Pennsylvania is halfway complete, from the New Jersey border through the Lehigh Valley, and I’m looking to complete my goal this year. South Central Pennsylvania is next. If you are a hiking enthusiast, let me know if you’re interested in joining me for some day trips or overnighters on the way to the Maryland border. Just be prepared for any bear sightings along the way.
As always, remember to feel good, live simply and laugh more.
Dave Korba, Publisher