Friday, June 18, 2010

Blessing #23 - The Appalachian Trail

     The Appalachian Trail is a rugged hiking trail that begins at Springer Mountain about 100 miles from Atlanta, Georgia, and ends atop Mount Katahdin in Maine. It roughly follows the ridge line of the chain of Appalachian Mountains. In certain parts of the south, that ridge line is actually the boundary between some states. Technically, you can be walking with your left foot in Tennessee and your right one in North Carolina...pretty funky, don’t you think! No, I did not walk the 2,167 miles, but my husband did, and I am SO proud of his accomplishment.

There are four types of hikers:

1. Thru Hikers- These are the people that start in Maine and walk south or start in Georgia and walk north. They do the entire trail from one end to the other at one time usually taking 5-6 months. The mid-point is in PA, but the psychological mid-point is the little town of Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, where the AT Headquarters are housed. When you go through there, they take your picture and you sign their book for history’s sake.

2. Section Hikers - These are the hikers that do the trail in sections, and this is what my husband did. You hike as far as you can during the time you have and them come back and do another section and another section until you FINALLY complete the entire trail.   You don’t have to follow any order...you just hike from Point A to Point B, record it in your journal, and keep doing that over and over again.

3. Yellow Blaze Hikers - These are the people who thru hike or section hike, but from time to time hitch a ride and skip certain sections of the trail. They make better time than folks like my husband.

4. Pleasure Hikers - These are folk like me that just love to go up on the trail for short little hikes to enjoy the sights and the sounds of being out in the middle of nowhere.   Some people stay a night or two while others do simple day hikes.

   My husband was a section hiker who started hiking here in VA in 1992.  After completing our state, he did all the sections in NC and GA, and once those were finished he started north getting from home to his hiking point by car, bus, plane, or paying drivers to pick him up, drop him off, pick him back up, and then get him wherever he needed to go to hook up with his return transportation back to VA. He NEVER yellow blazed one single mile of the trail.  He walked each and every mile of it from beginning to end, and here is the photo that was taken by a fellow hiker when the summited  Mount Katahdin on August 5, 2002...quite the prized possession, to say the least.
     I still can’t believe he really did it. He is only 5’5” tall, weighs 135 pounds, and is not the steadiest guy on two feet. Thanks heavens for his hiking poles. How he climbed all those mountains and scaled those steep rocks I cannot imagine.  I just know he had to have had a “Guardian Angel” beside him all the way because he made it without illness or injury  It is truly a miracle in my book! When he finally got home, I met him at the Roanoke airport with this big yellow sign:


As you can see, there was NO going to Walt Disney World for him....he was coming home to me! I was so happy to see him and to finally have him back home again. Those two and three week absences...and there was one AWFUL one that lasted a month -  were rough around this old house.  I missed him, and so did the pets.  It just wasn’t the same without him.vYou just realize how much you take for granted until you have to do without.  My life was very lonely as our only means of communication were post cards and letters...and a call from a pay phone in a little town every once in a while. He talks about going back to Vermont and hiking up there again, and if that is what he wants then he must do it.  He loves the peace, quiet, solace, and beauty of the woods and nature.  He in one of those one in a million guys that asks for little, but has done so much with his life. He says he is very low maintenance...just give him a little food and water and he will be OK! That really is the truth.

     Why is the Appalachian Trail to be considered a blessing? What more of a blessing could I ask for than to have my husband complete such an awesome undertaking with so much happiness and pleasure. When he’s happy, he makes me happy. I could never do it, but I pretended all the time he was out there that I was hiking, too.  To see him so happy and so proud was wonderful.  Yes, the Appalachian Trail was and is definitely a blessing for him and for me...and if you get the chance to "take a walk on the wild side", be sure to take advantage of the opportunity.  It is out of this world and there is nothing else exactly like it anywhere in the United States.

“A man does not climb a mountain without bringing some of it away with him, and leaving something of himself upon it.
~Sir Martin Conway 1856-1937

6 comments:

Denise said...

WOW! What a commitment! Congrats to both of you!

I have heard of the trail but, never knew anyone tell the tale of actually doing it!

Smiles - Denise

Genie Robinson said...

Thanks, Denise.....It was a real commitment and a long one at that, well worth everything that went into making it a success. If you ever get the chance and are near the Pacific Crest Trail out west or the Appalachian Trail here in the east, make a day of it. You will never forget the experience. Hugs...Genie

tongfengdemao said...

Awesome! Tell your husband he rocks.

I never would have thought of the Appalachian Trail as a blessing, but I can see why you do.

~Faith
Sew Many Blessings
Needle & Fabric Art

Beansieleigh said...

Hi Genie! My gosh, this is wonderful!.. It almost reminds me of the book "Eat, Pray, Love" (Elizabeth Gilbert).. You think so??.. Actually I still haven't read the book, but after hearing so much about it, I WANT to! (I have to finish my "Twilight" books first!!).. But such a journey, such an accomplishment, and all he's gained from it is a great blessing I'm sure! ~tina

Genie Robinson said...

Tina....I just bought the book, but am making myself finish Sweater Quest by Adrienne Martini. Read about it on a blog and decided to order it. It a great book for knitters....a good read. Eat, Pray, Love is next. Hugs, XOXOXOXO Genie

Genie Robinson said...

Faith....to us, the AT is one of the most beautiful and tranquil blessings in life. I just wish I were more able to really get out there a hike over a period of time instead of just short day circuit hikes. It is always something new and different and more beautiful that before. Hugs, Genie