From High Heels to Hiker Trash: An AT Section-Hiker Checking In
If you’d asked me 5 years ago, “Hey, do you want to go out and hike the A.T,” your suggestion would’ve been met with a disbelieving, “Yeah, right,” coupled with a look that would have let you know instantly that your idea was truly an insane one. I mean, I’ve always loved being outdoors, but the only camping I’d ever done was back in basic training and only then because the drill sergeant said I HAD to go. I can remember how I use to make jokes about going out and hiking the A.T. I was exploring my dream of always wanting to learn to ballroom dance, completely enjoying strapping on those high heels and stepping out on that smooth, wooden dance floor with my always larger-than-life instructor. Yeah, I was having the time of my life…or so I thought.
Then I had to take a trip up to Dahlonega, GA to visit the college my youngest son was going to attend. While he was out doing his weekend thing with his future classmates, I found myself up at Amicalola Falls State Park. It was mid-November and the blazing fall colors where breathtaking. Coming from Florida, I felt as though that 8 hour drive had transported to me to another world….
I felt my heart beat quicken and I could tell something was coming over me. I just didn’t know what but I knew when I left the park that day that I had to come back. Luck would have it, another college event brought me back to Dahlonega and back to Amicalola Falls. I was determined to discover just what it was about this place that kept calling out to me. And then I saw it…
I suddenly understood that I’d been bitten by the Appalachian Trail hiking bug! Man, did it bite me good! I returned to Tampa and began researching gear and scouring the internet for all things A.T. My infection was contagious, as I convinced my brother and my sister that they, too, wanted to hike the A.T. And so began the trials and tribulations that making such a decision entails:
- Okay…I’ve decided to hike the A.T. so now what do I do?
- What gear do I need?
- Where do I buy such gear?
- How much weight is too much?
- What guide book works the best? (I couldn’t decide on this one at first so I got all of them!)
I had more questions than I had answers but had so much fun with the entire process of transforming from this:
Allow me to introduce myself! My name is Lori and I AM AN A.T. SECTION HIKER! To date, I’ve completed roughly 175 miles of the A.T. (including the Approach Trail) and am now ready to enter the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. I’ve learned a lot since my first overnight hike from the Falls to the summit of Springer and back: what works best for me, what doesn’t work at all, what I am willing to do without or accept the weight to carry it…all kinds of things. Most of all, I’ve started to learn more about myself. I’ve got a quote from one of my favorite A.T. thru-hike documentaries that sums it all up for me:
“The A.T. changes you and it fixes you….”
No truer words exist to describe what my time on the A.T. does for me. My goal is to share my love of the trail and to encourage those of you who might be sitting on the sidelines, reading about everyone else’s hike, to get out there and give it a try! If I can do it, so can you!
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