When I was in high school I convinced my best friend to walk 20 miles on the Appalachian Trail with me, all in one day. The stretch between McAfee’s Knob and Daleville is perfect for this… We could get dropped off at one end and picked up at another. Even in high school, I just wanted to walk as far as possible. It seemed crazy at the time. Twenty miles in one day. No training. Sixteen years old. People told us not to do it. But we did! And we made it. It was not particularly life changing other than it armed us with the knowledge that we were capable. And that, I have not forgotten.
So naturally when I came home to visit my mom for a long weekend, I wanted to hike this 20-mile stretch. She dropped me off at one end and picked me up at the other. This time though, it didn’t feel like a big deal. It was more out of a desire to feel something familiar, to return to the baseline-normal that a day full of walking seems to provide. The way my body and mind change as the miles slowly tick by. The smell of morning slowly fading into afternoon. Knowing it’s time for lunch, not because it’s noon but because I’ve reached a rock with views stretching over the rolling hills beyond… and I’m hungry. Passing people, playing leap-frog with thru-hikers. Just to be linear for a day.
It was great! And the best part… I didn’t even feel sore the next day. I remember barely being able to walk up the stairs the next day after completing the trek so many years ago. Of course, at that point I wasn’t vegan. And I’d never done a thru-hike.
It was great to visit you, Appalachian Trail. Now, back to the west!
P.S. For a limited time, you can buy a signed copy of my PCT memoir! All funds go directly toward supporting a hike of the Pacific Northwest Trail this summer. Any and all contributions are GREATLY appreciated.. Thank you!!
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