2007 was one of the best years of my life. I fell in love with long distance hiking. On March 18th, I flew down to Georgia by myself. I was only 19 and so nervous that I could not eat or sleep. I was shaking on the ride to the approach trail in Amicalola Falls State Park.
But then I started walking. Everything changed. For the first time in my life I felt like I was exactly where I was supposed to be, exactly where I wanted to be. I was home. The Appalachian Trail is about 2,175 miles long. It follows the Appalachians from Springer Mountain in Georgia all the way to Katahdin in Maine. In 2007 I was lucky enough to hike its entire length.
The southern portion of the trail was enjoyable because I had never been to the south before. The balds in North Carolina were one of the highlights of the trip.
The trail flattens out a bit in the Mid-Atlantic states. The hot and humid weather made them difficult though! I was surprised to see many bear in northern Pennsylvania and New Jersey. I made it to New York in time to celebrate my 20th birthday at my parent's house. It was hard to leave the comforts of home after a couple of days off, but I remember meeting a hiker in NY who had thru-hiked a few years earlier. He said to me "the trail only gets better from here north." He was right!
I was eager to get to the White Mountains and flew through Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont. New Hampshire and Maine were spectacular. The northern portions of the trail were the most steep and rugged but the new challenges came with amazing views.
I made it to the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail on August 1st and summited Katahdin under cloudy skies. The final day of the hike was the most difficult because I was not ready for the trail to be over.
If I had it my way, I would have kept hiking right around the world.