In 2017, we hiked 92 miles on the Appalachian Trail over six days in New Jersey and New York.
With this effort behind us, we have 761 miles to reach our goal at Mount Katahdin, Maine.
Fifteen years of hiking has definitely softened me. In addition to replacing a tent for a camper, I even shortened this year’s hike by one day so I could drive my son Jack to the airport, who was studying abroad in Spain for the fall 2017 semester.
You can be sure I received no resistance on the reduction from my reluctant hikers.
Nonetheless, we hiked our hearts out in our fifteenth year as we averaged over 15.3 miles every day. There was a time when I truly believed (and some times hoped) I would be hiking alone on this arduous adventure.
That is not the case anymore. Over the course of our hike, we had ten good friends take part in this journey for Julianna.
The hike’s mission, the camaraderie created and the physical effort put forth has resonated with the souls off those who participate. Also, I am no fool…I am cognizant the addition of Dan’s camper over last few years has elevated team morale. The fact that we don’t wake each day with sweat and dirt, from the previous day’s effort, coated on our bodies has pushed our hiking to new levels. In year’s past, Barfy would walk two miles just to get a soda…now he needs just two steps to get to a cooler.
Our daily grind began August 25th over gently sloping New Jersey terrain leading to our short term objective of the beautiful Hudson River Valley. The first ten miles of our 2017 hike was predominantly flat and downward sloping over New Jersey farm land.
As is the Appalachian Trail way, the last 82 miles were merciless (mostly in New York) as we were forced to climb more rock than I ever remembered. These were not stepping stones but large boulders we had to climb and navigate on knees at times. One of our newcomers in 2017, Matt (Birdman) Lynch, wished he could have flown and not hiked over these obstacles.
At one point on Day 2, Birdman looks up at one of these boulder mountains and then over at me says, “I have to climb over that?”
This is the Appalachian Trail…I am afraid so.