Trail Notes: The Appalachian Trail

Words by Liam Cremins

Lightning blinded me. Thunder brought me to my knees. The hair on my arms and neck stood up. Atop Pond Mountain, I continued running. As my boots filled with water, I prayed that my pack cover would keep everything in my 30 pound backpack dry.

And yet, as I ran, I smiled— with two things on my mind:

  1. This is without a double the worst storm I have ever been in.
  2. This is still better than the best day at work.

One month and 423 miles ago I left a tearful mom, an envious dad, and Georgia behind as I took my first steps northward on the Appalachian Trail. The Appalachian Trail- or AT as it is called, is a 2,184 mile footpath from Georgia to Maine for those who seek fellowship with the wilderness. 

Liam spots a moose on the AT

While sitting on the banks of French Broad river in North Carolina, I decided I would continued hiking the AT until I was either unhappy, out of money, or 1909 miles away standing on Mt. Katahdin in Maine.

I kept hiking. 

And along the trail, I learned- not only about myself, but about life, too. Things like:

  1. .2 miles on a map means whoever made the map has no clue how far it really is.
  2. That there are still good people in the world.
  3. It truly is better to give than to receive.
  4. That the “secret to happiness is freedom, the secret to freedom is courage” (advice written in a journal by a fellow hiker who passed away on the trail ahead of me).
  5. Courage is the unbridled desire to live.

Liam at the top of Mt. Katahdin in Maine

Now, having completed the journey, I often look back fondly and reminisce on how great it was to live so simply for four and a half months. Carrying all necessary items on my back, enduring snow and rain, wild animals and bugs, hunger and solitude— all while improving my attitude, perseverance, courage, and outlook on life. 

This truly was the adventure of a lifetime, and I believe— with the right attitude— anyone is capable of the journey.

The view from the parking area at Clingmans Dome. @Kristina Plaas photo. @NPS

 

10 Appalachian Trail Facts

1. The AT crosses 14 states: Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.

2. It takes 165 days on average to finish the the AT.

3. Clingmans Dome in Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the highest elevation at 6,643'.

4. The lowest elevation in feet along the Appalachian Trail is 124' at Bear Mountain State Park in New York. 

5. There are around 165,000 white blaze trail marks along the AT.

6. The average AT hiker needs to consume 5,500 calories a day to maintain their body weight.

7. 262 shelters exist on the AT.

8. 25% of thru-hikers are female.

9. 31 maintenance clubs serve the AT.

10. Around 241,936 volunteers help maintain the AT each year.

Facts from REI

 
Liam is an avid outdoorsman who grew up in the Smokies, and moved to Colorado in 2010. His favorite activities are backpacking, bouldering, and helping people who are inexperienced in outdoors enjoy it as much as he does. 

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