Reflections After 50 Days on the AT

As I sit here on the very comfortable front porch of Lady Di’s hostel in Damascus watching her chickens roam about the yard, I have to think back over the past 50 days of hiking the AT; the lessons that I’ve learned; the incredible people that I’ve met; and the countless experiences.

The AT has been both painful and exhilarating. I’ve always coached athletes telling them that true growth cannot happen unless you leave your comfort zone. Fifty days ago, I had no idea how far I would actually venture outside my comfort zone.

For the handful of AT hopefuls that read this blog, I’m going to try to summarize the best and the worst of the last 50 days.

1. It’s not a matter of IF you injury yourself, it’s a matter of when you injury yourself and the severity. Listen to your body. Even though many of us have schedules and timelines, slow down or rest when you need to rest. As many of you know, I dealt with knee pain. While it was incredibly painful, it was merely an overuse and inflammation type injury which was remedied with rest and an NSAID. I’ve watched several hikers push themselves too far and they paid the price. One hiker I met did’t fully understand the severity of a tooth infection and ended up in an urgent care.

2. Taking care of yourself sometimes can be more mental than physical. Sometimes you need a break from the monotony of the trail. Plus, I’ve found that the most rewarding part of this journey is my time away from the trail. From Helen to Hiawassee; Franklin to Erwin; and Hampton to Damascus; I’ve truly enjoyed the trail towns, hostels, and restaurants! If you’ve experienced the Mountain Harbour breakfast, you know what I’m talking about!

3. It’s all about the people. I’ve met some incredible people over the past 50 days. The trail breaks down some many of the socioeconomic barriers. I’ve met hikers of all ages from many walks of life. I’m sure throughout the remainder of this journey, I will continue to make some life long friends. But, it’s not just the hikers, it’s the shuttle drivers, the hostel owners/operators, and so many more!

I’m back on trail tomorrow, leaving Damascus behind. I can’t wait for what lies in front of me, but I’m so grateful for the previous 50 days. Yes, even the snow, the cold, the wet, and maybe even Jacob’s Ladder.

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Comments 1

  • Ruth Morley : Apr 18th

    Yes! I agree completely with all that you said. I have always said that the people you meet on every long distance trail are the best part of the journey. I’ll enjoy following your journey.


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