Working in the Woods

One of my close hiker friends left the trail recently, as others have been talking about it. Why? I think the biggest reason is that hiking is tough work. Some people say that hiking the Appalachian Trail is a vacation. Truthfully, it is not. Obviously, it is beautiful and a lot of fun – that’s mostly why I’m here – but it is also wry difficult.

There is a saying out here: “My hiking is getting in the way of my thruhiking experience.” The funniest part about that, to us, is that it is true. The best parts about thruhiking are often not the hiking parts, but the hiking is what makes it happen. We are constantly caught between pushing ourselves to move forward and taking more time to enjoy our surroundings. In order to successfully thruhike, it is necessary to move quickly, to arrive at Katahdin in time (and before running out of money in many of our cases).

Think of it this way. Most of us work at least six days every week, putting in long hours each day. Some of us hike dawn until dusk. The work is exhausting, and we seldom have much time or energy for anything else on the long days. We are paid only with views and good conversations, though some days we get neither. Often, there is a new challenge to face: heat, rain, bugs.

Despite all of these challenges, many of us are still here and will continue to hike to the end, even if that means hiking faster than desired or pushing the body and mind to their limits. The one true challenge is enjoying the experience, no matter what happens along the way. I am fortunate to be hiking with hikers who, like myself, ensure this enjoyment on almost all scenarios. We will have to push ourselves to keep hiking, but we are having the time of our lives out here, which I think is more important than anything else at this point in my life.

Yes, it’s hard work, but it is very rewarding, and we are keeping it fun.

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Comments 1

  • Roberta Streicher : Dec 20th

    Marilyn Perkins and I started on Springer Mountain in Georgia in April and finished OUR hike in Harpers Ferry, worn to a frazzle – but it was still the best thing I have done for myself in my 87 plus years! I met great people and more importantly, I met myself. I never was able hike more than 10 miles a day, which meant we could not make it to Katahdin. But, you know what – I hiked on the Appalachian Trail – carrying my survival on my back and if I could I would try again. If you have dreamed of doing it – Do it!!!


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