Excerpt from “Transformed on the Trail” ~ By Jim T. Ryan
Here is an account from a hiker who completed his thru-hike on the AT. It is very well written and quite emotional. The story, that ends in Maine, of course, is accompanied by some great photos from many stops along the hike from Georgia to Maine. Read the excepts below and then click thru to the entire article, if you like. Feel free to leave a comment, below!
“The day is cold, yet the Maine sun beats down on your neck. You’ve been walking for hours, the last of it over and around boulders the size of dump trucks at times. The sweat beads down, running under the moss-like months of beard growth.
Six months of walking and so much landscape has passed underfoot, brushed past your face, torn at your clothes, bogged your socks and boots. You’re on your third pair of hiking shoes, the predecessors stripped of their usefulness by the mountains of Tennessee, shredded by the rocky remains of the last ice age in Pennsylvania.”
from Harrisburg Magazine
“You’re exhausted, yet you climb the peak in front of you. You can’t wait to be done with this meandering existence. But you dread its end. What next? Where do you go from here?
You just keep walking. There it is. Baxter Peak, the pinnacle of Mount Katahdin. You can see the sign. Adrenaline kicks in, and you begin sprinting the final football field only to stop to wait for the companions behind you. You made them a promise to finish together. You’ll keep it. You’ll finish the 2,186 miles of the Appalachian Trail (AT) together.”
“For anyone with a bit of wilderness in their blood, thru-hiking the AT is the first long-distance notch in the hiking stick. But finishing the trail is a remote accomplishment. Only about 20 percent of those who set out ever actually finish the hike in a single year. Many quit before they’re out of the first state.”
“My favorite area – the most beautiful area – is probably Tennessee. In Hampton, Tenn., there’s a stretch where you hike along a stream. It’s just absolutely beautiful. The trail is right next to the stream, and it’s flowing. You start at a waterfall. It was a place where I wish I just could’ve camped for a week,” Reardon says.
“He chokes-up with emotion, reliving the final day of his trek. Summitting Katahdin isn’t just a story. He relives it.”
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