They are on a journey.
The Appalachian Trail is 2,194 miles on foot, from Springer Mountain Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine. NOBO. Northbound. It’s the classic route and gets you an early start in the spring so you can be off the trail by the time the snow falls up north.
It was the brainchild of Benton MacKaye, who was inspired by a hike in 1900 and envisioned a long trail that would allow people to find answers to the “problem of living.” It was completed in 1937.
About three thousand people try to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail each year. About 750 make it. They wear out shoes. They lose weight. And they build a community. They are seeking answers, pushing their comfort zones and learning new skills. Some of them get lost along the way…and if I were to guess…I bet a few get lost when they try to plug back into the “real” world.
We set up a little “trail magic” at mile 1,310, offering cold drinks, warm hot dogs and comfy chairs to rest a while. In exchange, we heard stories, took photos, and got a little glimpse into this world we hope to inhabit ourselves one day.
We happened to camp next to a group that hiked the trail in 2002. They had gathered to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their hike.
I asked the question, “What have you learned on the trail?”
Steve answered first. He hadn’t hiked the trail, but his wife had and he had heard the stories for years. This reunion was the first time he had met many of the people she had hiked with.
“I guess I’ve seen two things,” Steve said. “These folks started looking at what they COULD do, instead of what they COULDN’T do. And they made life-long friends along the way.”
Sounds like a worthy journey to me.