In Two Photographs, What is the Appalachian Trail?

What is the Appalachian Trail in two photos:

 

The Appalachian Trail is all about the people. Every year, thousands of hopeful thru-hikers flock to the southern terminus of the AT to test their mettle against the brutal ups and downs of life in the Appalachian Mountains. Most of us begin alone before finding what we call our “trail families.” In this photo are Finch, Mountain Goat, and My Shadow who are cuddle together in the corner of a shelter enjoying each others comanionship and warmth as they prepare to remove their jackets and face a cold days hike. I had the great pleasure to hike with these girls for roughly two months.

While the first photo illustrates the warmth and comfort of friends on the trail, this photo displays the trails darker side. It is one of my favorite photographs for this reason. A lone hiker traverses an exposed bald on a dark and gloomy day. The trail tests us in many ways often bringing out our deepest and darkest secrets. On the Appalachian Trail (or any grand adventure) we are forced to face our demons. It is these thoughts we battle more than the mountains or rough terrain. The trail tests the mettle of our minds way more than that of our bodies. Even when we physically hurt, which is often, it is our minds that overcome the pain pushing us ever onward.

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Pittsburgh, Pa: Three Seasons in the Hometown and a Tool Trailer

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Getting muddy in Frick Park riding my new Surly ECR.

Tomorrow morning, I board a train to New York City with my Great Aunt and Uncle. Then, in thirteen days, the real adventure begins. It actually starts in eleven, as that’s when I board the bus, but who’s counting. For this trek I’m headed to Maine for the second time in my life. The first time was in 2012 when I pedaled a bike to Bar Harbor from Pittsburgh, Pa. This time, I’m a wa’kin from Georgia. Thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail is one of my oldest dreams. It’s time to check it off the list.

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The hike begins March 9th, 2016 at Amicalola Falls State Park in Northern Georgia’s Chattahoochee National Forest, the same National Forest I suffered through for days during the TNGA (Trans North Georgia Adventure, a grueling bike race across the state.) I know the pain I’m in for and it’s gonna be awesome!!! I cannot wait.

I’ll go into more details in future posts. In this one I want to get caught up on the time I spent in my hometown after cycling from the Canada border in Washington state to El Salvador.  Continue reading