Cathy and I recently went on a two night/three day backpacking trip along the Appalachian Train, from Three Forks up to Neel Gap. I blogged about my thoughts before the trip HERE. Overall, I enjoyed the trip, but we did run into some difficulties and trials.
The Good: Beauty. The Appalachian Trail really does travel through some beautiful areas. There were numerous wildflowers in bloom. Even the mushrooms were beautiful! Trail information. The reports I studied on water availability and other trail features were accurate. Our conditioning. Cathy and I were conditioned beforehand and the trail, while not easy in some places, never got the best of us. We were able to hike surely and confidently even when we had to go further than our original plans called for. Cathy especially has come so far, has worked hard to overcome her knee pain, and following her on the trail and watching her confidence in her ability now compared to times past was particularly gratifying. Kindness. As discussed in our pre-trip thoughts, there was a sixish-mile waterless stretch that we knew about and were prepared for. As we entered Cooper Gap, roughly halfway through this stretch, some kind soul(s) had left gallon jugs full of water for thirsty hikers who may not have known about that particular stretch. Thank you whoever you are! Mutual enjoyment. I really enjoyed being out there with Cathy and sharing all the beautiful scenery and even the toil of the trail with her.
The Bad: Blisters. Sore feet. Tired legs. These kinds of things are most likely unavoidable on a journey like this, but they are unpleasant and have to be dealt with and accounted for. Inconsiderate hikers. Just because YOU like a certain type of music or song doesn’t mean EVERYONE wants to hear it. Get some ear buds please, and don’t broadcast your choice of music for the world to hear. There is no need to yell or whoop unless there is an emergency that calls for it. Be respectful of other people’s experience. These types of inconsiderate behaviors make for a less than pleasant experience out on the trail. Heat and humidity. We expected it to be this way, but expecting something and living through it are two different animals. Our conditioning played a big part in overcoming this! Thundershowers. We expected these as well. The same idea of expectation applies- plus the fact that I didn’t properly prepare for the second storm. Reliance on technology. We had an app we were using to track our progress and plan our stops and refills, but it didn’t always work correctly. I had to use my faulty memory to fill in the gaps at times.
The Ugly: Campsites and other areas that had been left trashed by previous hikers. It’s one thing to inadvertently drop something, but you could tell that people had been deliberately leaving their trash behind. It was somewhat disheartening. Attitude and emotional control. I really need to work on the way I respond to stress, especially when I’m tired after a long day of hiking. When I let my frustration show overtly, that affects Cathy’s emotional state as well. Again it’s a matter of expectations vs. actual experience.
All told, even though the trip wasn’t perfect, and there were trials and tribulations along the way, I really enjoyed the trip and am thankful I had Cathy with me to share the experiences both good and bad. If you get the chance, I recommend you prepare for and make a similar journey.
Get off that couch! Get on the trail!
Note: Because of the length of my original report, I decided to trim it down to more of a bite-sized read. You can view the full and more in-depth report HERE if you so desire.