The Bonding of Kindred Spirits

What I’ve learned on the first ten days of hiking and living on the Appalachian Trail is that it takes a sense of humor, grit and the ability to give into the trail. While our first day was spent hiking the approach trail out of Amicalola Falls due to the recent snow storm that blanketed the area two days prior to our scheduled departure, this girl is certainly including those 7.3 miles (to icy to do the stairs, thank God) in this blog. As I write this, we’ve covered 76.9 miles and everyday has been excruciating, exhilarating, exhausting, fun, awe inspiring and just plain HARD!

Before you read any further, stop and make sure you’ve written your list, like Zach Davis told you to do. I must confess that I didn’t, simply because my list is walking right in front of me, sleeping next to me every night and sharing this experience with me each and every step. It’s really hard to want to quit when your list is staring you in the face unable to mask the emotions of disappointment, sadness and frankly anger when you are standing defiant on a god forsaken mountain wanting to go home. This happened to me as we were on the last mile approaching Springer, I wanted to quit so bad. The trail was already snow covered and the fresh snow that had fallen overnight made it even more exhausting. I shed two tears and stopped for fear of them freezing on my face. As I stood there contemplating whether I had what it took mentally and physically to hike this trail, all I had to do was look at Fred’s face and I knew that barring injury or illness nothing was going to stop me from heading north to Maine. Plus, there was no way in HELL I was going back the way I came. By shear determination and encouragement from Fred we made it to Springer, where we made a small video and headed over to the shelter for a quick lunch before “officially” starting our journey.

The trail to Hawk Mountain Shelter was a nice one, and although Fred was nursing an injury he sustained on the Approach Trail we arrived at the shelter in one piece to a group of great hikers. The same group that started on this journey the same day we did and to date we’ve spent almost every night with most of these men and women and the bonds of kindred spirits are bonding.

What I’ve learned over the last ten days of hiking the trail is that you first MUST embrace the trail, listen to your body and stop and enjoy the beauty before your eyes. Believe in yourself and keep pushing one step at a time. The twelve individuals that we’ve had the honor to share our time with are those who have watched us at our weakest and our strongest. They have seen us at our nastiest as we sweat our asses off, and have been downwind from our stench from not showering for more days than I can remember. They are the most giving, uplifting, and kind people we’ve had the pleasure of sharing a dream with. They are the ones who’ve shared in my tears and celebrated in our accomplishments of making it up Blood Mountain, Kelly’s Knob and who, today came together for a “family’ lunch at Daniels Steak House in Hiawassee.

Those you start with will share a frozen pizza over stories of pride at the accomplishment that all of you have done on this fine day at Neels Gap.  These are your new friends who will give you your well deserved trail name.

If you are gearing up for you hike, you must keep an open mind. Embrace the individuals who share the same dream as you.  As a woman hiking there is no room for vanity and honestly you won’t care when you are hiking up several hundred feet in elevation, feeling the exhilaration at seeing what you’ve accomplished, but that first hostel stop will be the best shower you’ve ever had, trust me.

But most of all dig deep and find the strength you never knew you had and as REO Speedwagon says, ‘Keep Pushin”

Good luck to those about to start this journey.  If you only accomplish one day on the trail, it is one day you will forever treasure.

Have a great walk!

Little D

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Comments 3

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