Appalachian Trail

Misty hardwood forests of northern Georgia, Appalachian Trail, April 15, 2013

The Appalachian Trail still seems to be one of the most popular long trails, passing even the Pacific Crest Trail in numbers of hikers who start the long hike at either terminus. It was the very first significant distance that I hiked since my successful through hike of the John Muir Trail in August of 2000. Funny thing was, that it wasn’t my intended choice. I had the itch to first explore the Pacific Crest Trail, which about 1700 miles of the 2,650 miles traverses my home state of California. The simple dilemma was time! In 2013, I was five years into my employment with the California Department of Transportation, as a licensed engineering geologist. I worked in Geotechnical Design North with a small group of engineers and a senior geologist, on bridge foundation design and repairs of slopes/landslides that plagued the state highway corridors of District 5. I was locked into that thing they call a career, though I never saw it as such! It was a means to an end. I spent a lot of my days dreaming of exploring places I hadn’t been.

In short, I had initially set sight on completing the Pacific Crest Trail over the 3 months of vacation that I had squirreled away by early 2013, though the logistics and physical challenges for a first time hike seemed daunting to complete with such tight time limits. Despite having completed my first successful through hike of the PCT in 2016 in 106 days, it exceeded 3 months. I had heard about the Appalachian Trail and knew that it was shorter than the PCT by about 450 miles, and that the logistics vertually didn’t exist, despite the overplanning by so many hikers. From blogs and AWOL’s Appalachian Trail Guide, it was clear that resupply was quite easy! I made an instantaneous decision based on these two factors to change course in planning to that of the AT.

Those who’ve hiked the entire trail or even have picked away at it, completing sections at a time, know that regardless of the season you choose to hike it, it’s inevidtable that you will be soaked a fair amount of the time.

McAffee Knob, Virginia, mile 600 and something, May 2013 northbound