The Backpacking Community

I’ve only been an avid backpacker for about a year now, and I can’t begin to describe how much faith I’ve gained in humanity because of it. I’ve always been a hiker but becoming a backpacker has flipped my world upside down. Never in my life have I met such a supportive, generous, and loving community of people. I guess carrying your life on your back really does humble you and encourage you to be a better person. There’s something about stripping your life down to the bare necessities that grows your appreciation for life in general. I know I’m not the only backpacker who feels this way because almost everyone I’ve met on the trail expressed their love for life. I couldn’t be more proud to associate myself with such an awesome community.

This past May I decided I would start preparing to backpack the Georgia section of the Appalachian Trail. I went on many day hikes to get ready physically. I was hiking up Blood Mountain (mile 31 going NOBO on the AT) which is no joke of a climb. It’s actually the highest point on the GA section of the AT. I had stopped to attend to my aching knee and another hiker stopped to make sure I was okay, gave me a bottle of water, and we chatted for about 30 minutes. One thing “Sloth” told me was, “you’re stronger than you think you are.” Woah. This blew me away. Ever since that day, any time I get discouraged on my hikes I literally say out loud, “you’re stronger than you think you are, Ashley.” “Sloth”, if you’re reading this, thank you so much for those 30 minutes of conversation. You have no idea how much you’ve encouraged me. I hope I complete my SOBO thru hike and am able to contact you one day just to say I was stronger than I thought and actually walked all 2,190 miles

Much excitement after summiting Blood Mountain that day

Much excitement after summiting Blood Mountain that day

Speaking of Blood Mountain. There is an outfitter/hostel called Mountain Crossings located at the base of the mountain. The employees there are freaking awesome. I’ve gone there many a times for a shakedown, and every time I feel so welcomed and appreciated. If you live in the North Georgia area, definitely go check them out! I can’t wait to head up there several times before my thru hike and soak up all their knowledge. I also look forward to around this time in 2016 when I will cross by on my way to finishing up my thru hike at Springer. Mountain Crossings, you rock!

So anyways, I ended up completing my 80 mile section hike over 8 days in June. It was the best week of my life. Seriously. The best. I had never felt so refreshed, in sync with my own body, and ready to take on anything. I met several people along the way who were all just so genuine and awesome. I firmly believe that there’s no better community of people than backpackers and hikers. Cheers to life and happy trails!

I’d love to hear from you! E-mail: [email protected]. Instagram: @ashschellhase

Oh! And that’s me and my friend Molly at Woody Gap in the featured photo. She’s always an encouragement to me, fully supports my thru hike, and has been a great friend. Love you, Molly!

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