Well, the trip to Atlanta is over (call me a mini John Madden, I won’t fly either so I took the train) and the true adventure is about to begin.
As a matter of fact, by the time this goes to print I will be standing at the top of Springer Mountain Georgia, 3,782 feet up, ready to step on the Appalachian Trail.
Over the course of the next several weeks, I hope you’ll take the time and come along as I explore the trail that begins in Georgia and ends in the remote wilderness of Maine.
First, let’s discuss some history of the trail. We need to dispel the notion that the trail, like that of Lewis and Clark, is one of the great trails in history. It is not. The truth is that the trail was the vision of a little known government regional planner named Benton Mackaye.
It was 1921 when Mackaye envisioned a series of trails connecting self-sufficient community camps that could be used by city dwellers to reconnect with nature. He presented his ideas in the October 1921 Journal of the American Institute of Architects.
Construction on the trail began within two years and continued until completion in 1937. In 1948, Earl Schaffer became the first person to through-hike the Appalachian Trail, taking just over four months to complete the task.
In 1968, the Appalachian Trail became the first “National Scenic Trail” under the National Trails System Act.
For the next 2,150 miles (the actual length of the trail is still an item for yearly debate), I will pass through all four seasons, over the top of more than 50 mountain peaks, walk through 14 states and meet countless new friends.
Friends who are as colorful as the trail names they bear, such as: Bushwacker, BeesKnees, Toot (Yep, you got it) and many more. These friends are never at a loss for words and always willing to tell a tale taller than your own.
Now that you know a little of the where, why and how, there is no sense in just standing here. One foot in front of the other, here we go, because the when is now.
Next Thursday: A week’s worth of walking.