Hiking on the Appalachian Trail, even for a short time, is something special. Knowing that it extends so far in either direction just makes it feel more… adventurous. Although I haven’t hiked it in very long distances, the sections I’ve gotten to do have been incredible and inspiring. Camping at an AT shelter and getting to mingle with those few, lucky thru hikers of the year is another experience that I treasure. Just rubbing shoulders and sharing stories with them makes me feel a little more a part of something I hope to accomplish myself.
A welcome cool breeze blows over the raised platform overlooking the mountains of northwest New Jersey just before sunrise on a Tuesday morning. The clouds dance in the sun’s pastel painting, illuminating the rolling hills in a soft glow. It doesn’t feel like the state known for farmland and suburban sprawl. It feels lonesome in a good way. The morning has given me energy that seems to only come with the joy of nature’s beauty and its unique scenery. At this point it feels like I could do anything.
Hiking part of the AT in Virginia was a short but transformative experience. I didn’t quite get to do what I had hoped, but just being out there among the community of hikers and immersed in the lush nature of central Virginia was enough to show me that it’s something I really want to do. There is enough solitude and conversation to be had at any given point that it seems almost impossible that they coexist so easily. While I wish I’d done it already, I’ve regained my enthusiasm to thru hike in the not-so-distant future.
While in Georgia we hiked several short trails on the Appalachian Trail. Since Joanna had hiked the entire trail last year she knew all the best places to check out. Blood Mountain was a slightly challenging hike uphill to a beautiful view overlooking the endless mountains. It was nothing like her amazing accomplishment last year hiking 2,185.3 miles, but it was a great day for a hike, and we got to pass out some Kind bars to thru hikers, and she did a great job encouraging them to keep going all the way to Maine.
Back on the East Coast, and it really feels like it. The trails are what I remember along the Appalachian Trail. We stopped at Amicalola Falls, which is the Approach Trail to the AT. We didn’t hike the whole thing, but we went up to the top of the falls and back around. It’s a beautiful rushing flow that sprays out over the bridge while you look up at it. The dreaded stairs on the trail weren’t even that bad; maybe because we prepared ourselves and we didn’t have 30-pound backpacks on.
The hike to the Lonesome Lake Hut in the White Mountains was a long and strenuous one even though it was just over a mile and a half. The uphill climb mixed with the snow, getting used to the snowshoes, carrying big packs, and overheating in our clothes made it for a taxing learning experience. We were never too cold (except maybe my toes,) and it got dark before we reached our destination. Luckily we could see the lights of the hut as we got to the other side of the lake and could walk across. This is our exodus after sub-zero temperatures pushed us to our breaking point and we realized it was time to head back to lower altitudes.
Last weekend we had a fantastic hike up the Appalachian Trail in New Jersey to Sunfish Pond. Usually, this pond is not so solid, but being that is was covered in ice and snow we decided to walk across it. The snow-covered trail to the pond couldn’t have been more picturesque, but walking across a frozen pond on a beautiful day made us happy campers. It was her first time walking on a frozen lake, and I believe it was my first time completely crossing one. I tried a few different things with this photo to get a good angle. The deep snow made it hard to get behind and under the feet, and I wanted to include some of the footprints in front as well.