In the summer and fall of 2019 I hiked 530 miles along the Appalachian Trail from Bear Mountain, New York to Andover, Maine. Why hike the Appalachian Trail, the “Long Green Tunnel” that lacks both the sweeping and expansive views of the Pacific Crest Trail as well as the solitude of the Arizona Trail? A trail that what it lacks in vistas it makes up for in night-time heat, soggy humidity, and hungry black flies?
I chose to hike a quarter of the AT from July to September for a few reasons. First, I wanted the trail companionship. After hiking on the AZT in 2018, and quite frankly getting kinda lonely in sections and a little freaked out at night camped alone, I wanted to be surrounded by lots of hikers, almost too many hikers, and I wanted to experience the trail culture and trail-families, or ‘tramilies’ that characterize the AT. I was excited to see a hiker around every bend in the trail and to pack myself into little shelters at night surrounded by at least a handful of other stinking hikertrash.
Secondly, I wanted to hike on the AT because I’d been feeling a bit homesick lately. I grew up in New Hampshire and hiked the NH-4000-footers but have lived the past 7 years in the often-gray and socially-aloof Puget Sound region. I wanted to walk on familiar ground again, to see friends and family along the way, to recognize both familiar sites, and to experience the familiar direct and charmingly-rude personalities that define New York and New England culture. Also my marriage was a bit rocky and I often felt distant from my partner. The combination of emotional disconnection along with a semi-new territory and cultural landscape of the PNW had me craving the emotional connection and nostalgic feelings that only home can bring.
And so I hiked! After visiting my good friend, Meredith, in Virginia I flew to NYC and bussed to Bear Mountain, New York. I was on the trail for 42 days. I walked through a handful of thunderstorms. I skinny-dipped in 1 lake. I met countless new trail friends and even a few old friends. I walked through New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. Read all about it here –