Hiking the Appalachian Trail
- Pages: 11
- Word count: 2513
- Category: Adventure
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Little over a year ago, Dan was getting into shape for the hike of a lifetime. He is a 25- year old with an adventurous spirit and a rebellious attitude. He never liked to stay in one place for long, and he is never bored because he is a creative individual. Although, he loves going on adventures and doing exotic things with different people. He is self reliant yet easy going at the same time. He would rather go on trips to all these places by himself than bring some people with him because he loves meeting new people along the way to share their adventure and experience with each other. His dad, brother, and himself all used to travel everywhere with each other. Until two years ago when their house got struck by lightning while Dan was at a tournament for his baseball team. His brother and father both couldn’t make it out on time.
Ever since then, Dan has been tactful when it comes to storms due to past troubles. Knowing that passing through fourteen states, some storms are bound to happen. This makes Dan feel more motivated than ever to achieve his goal and wanting to show his brother and father his success. After everything he has been through, nothing is going to stop him from achieving greatness. They are his main source of motivation, after every place he has traveled to. He checks off each thing of his list. Wondering if they could see him now, doing what he loves and wondering if they are proud of him.
Throughout the twenty hour non-stop flight from Sydney, Australia to Atlanta, Georgia where the Appalachian Trail begins. He had barely slept, he looked out the window at the ocean and the mountains. He is thinking about how each little detail flight after flight is as beautiful as the last. He doesn’t care how bad his jet lag will be because he says it’s all worth it. He lives off of this quote;
“If you’re on your way to achieve success, wouldn’t you want to soak in every detail along the way?”
During his flight he spent most of it thinking how at such a young age, he has seen more than some have seen in their whole lifetime. He was thinking about out of all the places he has been, and out of all of the boxes he has checked off of his bucket list, he is literally on his way to achieve his biggest dream.
Dan has already hiked the Larapinta Trail, which is 138 miles and takes approximately five days minimum including sleep. if you stay consistent and steady your steps. He also has hiked the Te Araroa Trail in New Zealand which is 1850 miles and usually takes people an average of 4 months to travel. This trail means “The Long Path”, which is totally accurate. This trail is the third longest trail in the world.
That wasn’t enough though, the number one thing on his bucket list is to fully hike the Appalachian Trail. This trail is approximately 2,181 miles long, taking seven months maximum. This trail crosses 14 states making it the longest hiking trail in the world. He is planning on starting his hike in late March, early April. By the time he has finished his hike, it would be roughly September.
Out of all of the places Dan has traveled and the experiences and lessons he has learned. He never knew if hiking the Appalachian Trail would be any different. However, he wasn’t mentally prepared for what was going to happen and it doesn’t matter how much he trained, or how much he had studied this trail. This was bigger than what he had ever expected.
After arriving to Georgia, he left the airport right away going straight to a one night 3 star rating hotel he found on the side of the road. He figured if he was going to only stay a night, maybe two. Thinking it wouldn’t matter that much where he camps out considering he’s just going to be catching up on sleep the whole time that he missed during the flight.
Two days has past, he now travels to Springer Mountain, where the Appalachian Trail begins. He then finds a little store for whatever he needs at he has forgotten along the way. This was a good time for him to double check everything. His biggest problem is he sometimes packs either too much, or too little during hiking trips. This trail is like no other, for this reason, he wasn’t sure what to pack, how much or how little. His paranoia gets the best of him at times and can never be too sure. He checks his things once, then twice, then he starts to hike. Thinking about it some more, he stopped to check his things a third time just “in case.”
After he has checked everything, conquering his ocd which comes and goes, he is now ready to get started with the Appalachian Trail. He is staring at North Bound in Springer Mountain, which is the most popular place to start and is also the beginning of the trail, starting in Georgia, and ending in Maine. Although, a lot of people like to start in the middle which is easier for some people since the North Bound is always crowded and it might cause some anxiety which is what Dan has plenty of.
He had planned from the beginning to start at North Bound. When he got there, he was definitely rethinking his choice knowing full well that there was going to be tons of people there. Still, he is always finding ways to better himself. He figured starting there was the start of a new beginning for him in a way.
As he went on his way, a few hundred miles in or so. There lies his first base camp where he sets his stuff down and sets up his tent where he stays for the night. It was overwhelmingly crowded. He knew that is was going to be like this, he tried to mentally prepare himself for this. After all of that however, he still is stressed because he has bad anxiety. He tries to make the positive out of a negative. In result of this, he meets two people, Jamie and Sharon, who are about Dans age that are doing this trail with each other.
Dan, Jamie, and Sharon’s tents are right next to each other, they all just clicked right away. They spent an hour chatting about where they are from and why they want to hike this trail. They found out that none of them are from nor born in the United States. Jamie was born in England, Sharon was born in Australia, same as Dan. As if everyone that hikes this trail is looking for a new start, challenging themselves by doing something extraordinary or, maybe they’re just doing it for the hell of it because it is something they’ve always wanted to do. As the night was coming to a close, they went to their tents to get some sleep in preparation for a longer hike tomorrow.
The next morning, at the crack of dawn, Dan got up and had some breakfast over the fire. Jamie and Sharon woke up after Dan and joined him for breakfast. Having his favorite food, which his father used to make every Sunday morning for him and his brother, french toast with scrambled eggs. Although it might not of been as good, considering the french toast was packaged because he’s not a very good cook and he doesn’t have enough room for a whole loaf of bread.
He had asked Jamie and Sharon how long they were planning on hiking that day, as it turns out they’re hiking the same distance as Dan is. Dan asked, “I figured since we’re going to the same place, with the same plans. Do you guys want to hike with me?” They then responded, “Yes of course! We were about to ask you the same thing!”
They went on their way without even checking the most important thing, the weather. As someone who is as paranoid and anxious like Dan, you would expect someone like him to check the weather before going any further, right? Apparently not. They went on their way assuming that everything was going to be okay because it was sunny and warm. He did all his research on the weather changes and where you can’t be too sure. He doubled checked, and studied all that there was to know about hiking the Appalachian Trail.
When you are hiking through fourteen states, you should expect some weird, random, cold, and warm weather. Dan did, all of them did in fact. They didn’t assume anything, there wasn’t anything to assume. Around noon, Dan, Jamie, and Sharon were about a couple hundred miles through with their second day journey. It was warm, the sky was cloudy but not to the point where you would assume anything of happening, or so they thought.
As they went on their way through North Carolina. Over time, the weather had changed tremendously. They were already out of range from the last camping site and still a long distance from the next. They had no choice but to keep going considering their two choices were to either hike 50 plus miles back from the opposite direction, or to keep going forward. They went on their way bonding with each other, and each others camping stories and how Dan and Jamie have the same fear of storms, for different reasons. Jamie was talking to Dan about how he got struck by lightning and as it turns out, that would cause a lot of trauma. He’s just waiting for his superpowers to finally kick in, “It’s only fair.” He says.
Dan shared his not so comedic reason for his fear of storms. He shared his story about what happened between his dad and brother. He says that they used to travel everywhere and now they’re his main source of motivation. Talking about he wouldn’t be hiking this trail without them. Dan and Jamie then asked Sharon what her story is. It seems as if you are hiking this big of a trail, going through fourteen states. You must either be crazy, or crazy motivated, or both. She then says she has always loved hiking, adventuring, and going to new places. She explains how she enjoys to go alone to places like this because it is a great opportunity to meet new people along the way to share stories like this. Dan, Sharon, and Jamie then go on about their stories and their reason for being here.
Jamie says, “Ever since I was a teenager, this trail really caught my attention. Probably because it goes across fourteen states making it the longest hiking trail in the world, maybe. Hahahaha! Ever since then I adventure, and travel as much as I can.”
They talked so much, they didn’t realize that all hell is going to break loose. Looking at the dark, and angry sky, they asked each other why is the weather acting so weird. They then realized that a hurricane recently hit Florida, now they’re getting the ricochet, the after weather. They wondered why they thought it was a good idea to hike in the middle of hurricane season and how this scenario went completely over their heads.
Hiking on, with the weather getting worse by the minute with strong forced winds, before it started to rain cats and dogs, they found a tiny cave at the bottom of the hill. Sharon started laughing uncontrollably at the fact that this only happens in movies. Jamie and Dan both trying to keep their cool, tried to come up with ideas. Their first course of action was to make a fire, considering that they’re just going to camp out in their for the night. Dan, being the rebellious soul, decided to run back outside to find some logs for a fire before it started to rain. Leaving Jamie and Sharon back to rest for a minute. After ten to fifteen minutes of him being gone, Jamie started to think of the worst possible thing that could happen to Dan. Sharon knows he gets like this, so she knows how to help him. She talks with him about his family, and tries to help him think of the positives. Dan returned with no wood. He found a fallen tree on the ground a while back figuring that if he got his knife, he could cut it into pieces. After getting his knife, he goes back out. By this point, it has started to rain, the temperature changed drastically.
Trying his best not to panic by taking a little break to ease his mind and calm his breathing before he has a panic attack. He continues to cut the tree remembering he’s on his own with this, he decides that he is only going to cut a few pieces.
With the weather getting worse by the minute, Dan decided that he should be done and get back to Jamie and Sharon the rast he can. He grabs the five logs he cut, struggling at first, he continues on his way. After returning to “camp”, Dan set the logs on the ground, starting the fire. Seeing Jamie lowkey rattled. He takes a break from what he’s doing and talks to Jamie. Since they both share the same mental illness Dan knows what to do with this situation. He practices some breathing exercises, the same ones he does with himself.
Oddly enough, Jamie has never really done any sort of breathing exercise. Which is funny because when you have anxiety, and having a panic attack, you’d expect to learn some sort of breathing exercise.
After about five minutes, Jamie calmed down making it easier for Dan to focus knowing everyone was okay. The wind had gotten to the point where they were concerned that it was going to put out the fire. Yes, the fire is in the cave, but the wind was coming at an angle, luckily it hadn’t. Half way through the night, the storm had gotten a lot worse. The wind took a turn for the worst, trees were falling, the wind blew out the fire that was inside the cave. They hadn’t gotten any sleep because the storm kept them up, this continued on throughout the night.
The next morning, they looked outside. The weather has gotten better, however it was still raining. They continued their hike. Ten days past with nothing but constant hills and mud puddles. They’re now in Maine, their last state. They finally see the end of the trail, they have mud from head to toe, and blisters on their feet. They stopped at the final destination point, where they showered, and ate some food. They gave talked to each other about how crazy of a adventure they have had and how they faced their biggest fear. They exchanged numbers because they are looking forward to their next adventure with each other and walked away without saying a word.