This month, I took time off from my duties as senior art director for Mopdog to venture into new territory along the Appalachian Trail. I traveled with a group of 20 people, and our mascot, Moppy, as part of the 2nd Annual Slackpack the Entire Georgia AT event.
Together, we climbed close to 85 miles in seven days. I took in so much during this amazing trip, which pushed me to walk 205,485 steps in just one week.
Perfect Hiking Weather
The first day of our journey was rainy and chilly, which made for slippery rocks and logs that caused some minor tumbles for my fellow hikers. But, the majority of the trip was perfect hiking weather, with clear skies.
The longest day was a 17-mile stretch, which took just over seven hours. Each morning, I was awake by 6 a.m. to get ready for the day’s excursion. Even the shortest days included a good climb. Every time my team thought we had traversed the final hill of a specific pass, there was another one right behind it. Some of the hills were not steep enough to show up on an aerial topography map, but any hill feels like a hill when you are on the ground.
Besides the physical training, there was a lot of preparation that went into this hike, as far as supplies and clothing. I brought four pairs of shoes, including the boots that I wore for most of the journey. Although my feet were throbbing by the end of each day, I remained blister free.
Other team members soaked their feet night after night in Styrofoam coolers filled with water and Epsom salt. In fact, frustration from foot pain on the Appalachian Trail is so common, the agitation can turn into a bit of a celebration when hikers throw their worn shoes up into the trees.
Day Tripper for a Lifetime
Each night, my group stayed in a hiker hostel, and was transported back and forth by vans. This meant we only carried lightweight packs with two liters of water and a few snacks, since we were served hot meals for breakfast and dinner.
However, all of us brought enough food to share with through hikers, who camp on the trail for days, weeks or even months. I found myself really looking forward to seeing these enthusiasts on the trail, who were greatly appreciative of any extra food, water and company. For a day hiker, a midday snack is nothing. But for a through hiker, even a piece of fruit can be critical, often referred to as ‘trail magic.’
After seven days, we finished our excursion on the Georgia/North Carolina border. The best part of the entire journey was the thrill of successfully completing our goal. The miles I trekked were only a thumbprint on the entire map of the Appalachian Trail. But, I do have a 10-year plan in mind to tackle the entire AT, section by section, in order. My next goal will be a section in North Carolina to the 100-mile marker!
Read my previous blog, “Mopdog’s Trailblazer Trains for an Appalachian Climb,” to learn more about my training schedule, and how my enthusiasm has grown for hiking.