From Georgia to Maine: Five Months with Six Kids on the AT
When I tell people I am hiking the AT this year, some people are interested in finding out more about the hike, while others think it’s a little crazy. When I tell them that I am hiking it with my six kids, nearly everyone thinks I am off my rocker. Totally bonkers, completely nutso. They cannot fathom walking that far with that many kids, and to be honest with you, sometimes I can’t either. But here I am planning meals, surveying trail towns, and gathering gear for what I hope is an adventure of a lifetime.
For my first post as a Trek blogger, I wanted to do an FAQ to explain why I am hiking with my kids, what benefits I foresee, and what hurdles I expect. If there are any questions you want answered, leave them in the comments and I will follow up in another post.
We Are Family
Many people wonder why I am bringing a gaggle of kids and not hiking the AT alone. The best answer is inspired by Sister Sledge—“We are family; I got all my children with me; We are family; Get up everybody and hike!” My kids are I do a lot of hiking together, and it’s become a shared experience. We have so many good memories and funny stories to tell. The AT is just another chapter in that book. Yes, I could do it alone, but it would be so much more meaningful if all my kids were all there for the experience. By the way, my kids range in age from 8 to 18, so all of them are good ages for long-distance hiking.
What About Your Husband?
He’s not a hiker so he won’t be on the trail with us. If all goes as planned, he will follow us in a camper from Virginia to Maine, providing trailhead support. The best part is I won’t have to shuttle six kids from the trailhead to town.
Why the AT? Isn’t a Weeklong Trip Enough?
We’ve done day hikes and overnights, but it would be fun to do something more. When we’ve hiked sections of the AT in Maine, we’ve talked about not stopping at the end of the day and continuing on to Georgia. Now we finally get the chance to try.
What’s the Hardest Part of Planning?
I’m not much of a planner and prefer just to wing it, but I can’t do it this time. It can be a bit overwhelming when I think about all the food we will need. I just can’t wrap my head around it. How many Snickers will we need for a week? I am trying to break the planning up into smaller, more manageable tasks, but it’s challenging. There are wedding planners. Does anyone want to be my thru-hike planner?
What Are You Most Concerned About?
I can deal with bad moods and bad weather, but injuries could stop us in our tracks. I am hoping that we can keep blisters, chafing, and sprained ankles to a minimum. I’m also a little leery of getting separated on the trail. We all hike at different paces and I don’t want to get too far apart. If we do spread out too much, we may end up with some people waiting at the trailhead for the group to arrive and others hanging out the shelter wondering where everyone went.
What Do You Look Forward to the Most?
I look forward to not hiking on a strict timetable. I can’t wait to linger at beautiful views, meet lots of new people, and spend the evening together as a family when we break for the day. A fellow hiker family also will be joining us for the first 350 miles and that has the kids (and me) over-the-moon excited. The camaraderie and support during those few months will get us started on a positive note. P.S. I am secretly hoping this family won’t stop in North Carolina and will continue with us most of the way to Maine.
What Are You Dreading?
The rain. We’ve hiked in the cold, in the snow, and in the wind, but we haven’t done a lot in the rain. But as they say—No rain, no pain, no Maine.
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