timberland sandals account of the long journey from Georgia to Maine part 1
Carey Kish of Mount Desert Island has been adventuring in the woods and mountains of Maine for, well, a long time. If there’s a trail be it on dirt, rock, snow, water or pavement he will find it, explore it, and write about it. Follow his outdoor travels and musings here, and on Facebook/CareyKish.
Do you dream of thru hiking the Appalachian Trail, of slipping away from civilization for a while, paring down to only the simple essentials that can be carried in a backpack, and taking on a challenge that is bigger than yourself? It takes about five million steps to hike the AT from end to end, and the real first steps to decide to do it and then make a solid plan, are perhaps the most difficult.
The Appalachian Trail isn’t the longest footpath in the world, but it is arguably the most famous and certainly the most traveled. The complete 2,189 mile trek is the ultimate backpacking adventure and the hike of a lifetime for many hikers. Several thousand people attempt the trail every year, but only a fraction who start actually finish.
In 2015, this hiker walked the entire AT for the second time, the first in 1977 from Springer Mtn. in Georgia to the summit of Katahdin in Maine, taking 189 glorious days to go the distance. From mid March to early October, I wrote a series of columns for the Maine Sunday Telegram chronicling the long journey, and I have compiled those accounts into a four part series.
Part 1 presented here covers some of the pre trip planning and musings, then the actual hiking through Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee and into southern Virginia. I hope you enjoy this armchair adventure and find inspiration through my footsteps enough to maybe tackle the big hike yourself one day. Click on the highlighted links to read each piece. Enjoy!This hiker is gearing up to tackle the entire Appalachian Trail, a journey of some 2,200 miles from Springer Mountain in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Georgia to the lofty summit of Katahdin in Baxter State Park deep in Maine’s North Woods. This will be my second end to end or “thru hike” of the trail; the first was in 1977, right out of Bangor High School at age 18. Carey Kish photo.
Entering the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Our thru hiker enjoys an Easter feast at the start of the famous mountain range, with features elevations of 5 6,000 feet.
I walked into Fontana Lodge forgetting entirely that it was Easter Sunday. My room wasn’t yet ready, so a hiker friend and I were directed to the dining room, where the only menu available was a lavish Easter buffet. And there we sat, dirty and smelly amongst the well dressed holiday diners, polishing off as only ravenous thru hikers can, six plates each of ham, turkey, roast beef and all the fixings, plus salad and desserts. Carey Kish photo.
Making some unexpected friends in North Carolina. Having the trail name has its distinct advantages.
Upon check in at Mountain Harbour B in Roan Mountain, Tennessee, I was presented with a surprise package and trail magic of the finest kind, a 12 pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon. Apparently I’d made quite an impression on some of the nighttime visitors a ways back at Rich Mountain fire tower, who’d arranged to have the beer delivered to me at one of my planned stops ahead. Having the trail name “Beerman” has its perks. Carey Kish photo.