View Full Version : How were you drawn to the trail?

01-10-2013, 22:11
How did you find out about the trail, and what drew you, or possessed you to pack your life on your back and hit the trail?
I first herd about the Appalachian trail while in my high school marketing class. My buddies and I were spinning a yarn about running the "Run for your lives 5k" and how much fun it was. The teacher over herd us and joined in on our conversation and eventually it led to him telling us about how his friend and hiked through the wilderness from Georgia to Maine - killing wild animals with his knife, braving the elements, growing a proper beard - and coming out a man on the other side. Being 16 this all sounded great to me! I marveled at the chance to test my whits and will against mother nature on her grounds. A few weeks later - after doing minimal google research, barrowing my uncles gear, and arranging a ride from Atlanta - My father, best friend, and I set lose on the trail at Springer Mountain with Blood mountain in our sights. After 3 days of braving the elements, making our own food, talking about what really matters - what model mustang was sexier - , sitting around fires at night, and ,not to be left out, using natures bathroom, I was hooked. Over the past year me and my friend really caught the fever, buying our own gear and heading into the mountains whenever we get a break from school.

Different Socks
01-10-2013, 22:54
Made a bucket list when I was 18 of things I wished to accomplish by the time I was 30. A thru hike was one of the items. Lost the list and forgot about it. 15 years later I am living in New England and I spontaneously began to think about the trail again. Bought Cindy Ross' book and it replanted the seed. Two years later I did it.

01-10-2013, 23:09
I was looking around for volunteer opportunities to fill part of my summer break in Virginia after freshman year of college. Somehow I stumbled upon Konnarock Trail Crew. It was about this time that I first heard some friends talking about reading A Walk in the Woods. I read the book while I was on trail crew, and at the same time, one of the crew leaders, Christine Hoyer (now the Trails & Facilities Coordinator at GSMNP), picked me out as a future thru-hiker. I kept it in the back of my mind until a year after college, when time and money opened up.

I've been told many times that I "paid upfront" with my trail crew time, which is unusual for a thru-hiker. Also, just to remind me of how it started, I unexpectedly ran into Christine and the Konnarock Crew on trail north of Damascus during my hike.

01-10-2013, 23:11
Boy Scouts in New York. Hiking on and near the AT at Bear Mountain and Fahnstock Park.

Capt Nat
01-11-2013, 08:48
As a child on a family vacation we stopped in the smokies and I saw the trail signs, wondering what it was about I read something about it and it lodged in my mind as something incredible.

01-11-2013, 08:52
A good friend of mine thru-hiked in 2006 and after he did it...I had to do it! Maddog:D

01-11-2013, 09:44
I read the story of "Buffalo Bobby" who died 20 miles short of Katahdin, he was 67, and I was 67. I previously lived 20 years just 200 yards from the AT, 1/2 mile North of Dicks Dome. I had always planned to hike the AT but just never got around to it, because it was always there. I tried twice last year but had a heart blockage and got off. Hopefully it's fixed now and I try again this Spring.

01-11-2013, 10:17
My best friend since junior high (we are 53 now) tried to do a trip in the Smokies back in 1980 with an overloaded pack. After going my own way and spending lots of time in the woods in the military, he asked me to accompany him on a hiking and camping trip on the AT hear Hot Springs. Together with my teenage son we started doing section hikes around school vacations and absolutely love the Trail.

01-11-2013, 12:40
Heard there was blueberries on the trail. Sold.

Then read Walk in the Wood and AWOL Thru Hike book. That confirmed the blueberries.

Maybe my trail name should be Yogi lol

Odd Man Out
01-11-2013, 13:10
My dad took me on a weekend backpacking trip on the AT in MD when I was in ca. 5th grade (Wash Monument SP to a shelter near there - not sure which one). I was a Boy Scout for many years in the DC area. Although I don't think our troop ever did any AT hikes, we did go to places close by (HF, Seneca Rocks, Paw Paw Tunnel). It certainly kept my interest in the AT. After graduating from college, I went with a couple of friends on a loop hike in SNP (Old Rag). I've driven under the AT overpass on I 270 about a bazillion times. The AT was sort of always there waiting for me. I'm glad it's patient.

01-11-2013, 18:30
I was always fascinated with it, but when I saw "Into the Wild" and read some Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry Thoreau, I decided I needed to get back to nature and simplicity myself.

TJ aka Teej
01-11-2013, 19:19
I had climbed Katahdin several times with my Dad when I was really young.
Then one time, when I was 8 or 9 years old, I realized exactly what the words on the summit sign meant.
The trail I had climbed went over 2000 miles to Georgia.
I remember clear as day picturing a mountain at the other end, with another boy on top looking North and thinking what I was thinking.
Funny, the memories that stay with you.

Nasty Dog Virus
01-11-2013, 19:55
Nasty Dog Virus - 1976 (age 3) camping along the AT next to Tumbling Run here in PA. I was lucky enough to grow up close to the AT with parents that liked to camp :)

01-11-2013, 20:06
I was helping a buddy and former boss get his new business off the ground when times were slow with the millennium bug looming in November of 1999. In the desk I inherited had 2 old National Geographic mags in the drawer. One of them had a documentary style advertisement from either Jeep or GMC about 10pages long about the things you can do with your new SUV. Like toss gear into the back and hike the Appalachian Trail.

Not quite 2yrs later, Idiots fly planes into buildings one fine day Sept 01' and changed the world as we know it. Around 3wks after in Oct 2001 my buddy turned to me and asked What I was going to do when we went out of business... thought well might hike this trail I've read about and went on the Internet to research the AT. We went out of business on Oct 15th 2001. Sept 11th 2002 I took my first steps as a test for a 2003 thru and honestly without those "idiots" a thru of the AT would have just been a "One of these days Im gonna"

01-11-2013, 20:49
Went to a beer party at the home of some American students in Cuernavaca. A guy by the name of Randy Sherman had a slide show going. it blew me away and I asked a lot of questions. I remembered every word and photo and started my own hike 4 years later. Thanks Rodrigo!

Another Kevin
01-12-2013, 12:25
Same story as Rasty - hiking Harriman/Bear Mountain and Fahnestock in the scouts. I thought that meant I could handle a 'moderate' freshman trip at Dartmouth - which is when I learnt what 'moderate' means in the Whites. But I kept hiking in the Whites anyway, when I was there. (Longest section I ever had was ten days, started in Norwich and walked north.) I gave it up for a long time when life got in the way, but started getting itchy feet again a few years back. My brother tells me they make a powder for that. :)

01-12-2013, 13:06
When i was growing up my Dad was a Maintainer in the NC section and on weekends he would take me with him, and in the spring time we would set up a camp and cook for the Thru-Hikers and i would talk to them then in my High School years i would spend my summers breaks on long distance hikes and decided that Thru-Hiking was for me.

01-12-2013, 13:17
I worked at a hospital and had a co-worker who had hiked it then I met a patient who had hiked it. It sounded like a lot of fun from the stories they told me. It was.

01-13-2013, 16:35
I honestly dont know. I have tried to remember how I got bit by the Hiking bug, but I have no idea. About two years ago I went through a messy separation after a 17 year marriage, the Trail just seemed to call to me. I made it half way last year and am heading back out this April.

01-13-2013, 22:59
I watched the A. T. video by National Geographic on Netflix. While it doesn't seem to do the trail any real measure of justice it was the answer I was looking for. I decided that day that the trail was where I wanted to be, was my answer to my wanderlust and social hunger.

01-14-2013, 00:14
An article in Boy's Life Magazine when I was 12 years old. It was called "Rattlers on the Appalachian Trail". We we're in Scouting at the time and the magazine was in the library. You couldn't check out magazines so we kept going back and reading it over and over. It was what started us out backpacking and camping on our own when we weren't involved with Scouting events. We had really small packs that we would put canned food wrapped up in our sleeping bags in, and we'd take turns carrying our tents in our hands. There would be 3 - 6 of us at any given time and we would sleep 2 to a tent when there was 4 or 6 of us and just squeeze 3 to a tent when there was 3 or 5. It was some of the best times in my life. We would pretend we were hiking the AT.

Northern Lights
01-14-2013, 00:23
Maybe 3 or 4 years ago, another hiker told me about it. Maybe showed me some pictures. And I said to myself, "self you are going to hike that trail someday" So I am.

01-14-2013, 19:39
I watched the A. T. video by National Geographic on Netflix.
I did the same thing after my teacher talked about the trail! I would bet that netflix documentary started lots of people off

swamp dawg
01-14-2013, 22:17
I found an article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution early in 1970 about a thru hiker and his epic journey to Maine. I was just married and with a child on the way so I said to my wife ....someday I want to hike a section of that mountain trail. Well, the idea of such a journey never left my mind. I took my family on small weekend camping adventures with some near the trail. Someday took about twenty years to come but it did come. I bought almost all the wrong gear and took my external frame with a pack weight of 45lbs and headed for a section below Front Royal, VA. My knees burned for most of the first week and I was just about to think anyone who hike this trail must be crazy. The pain got better and a sense of wonder came over me, it was if this is where I belong. I could not wait for my next vacation so as to continue my journey. Each spring, I look forward to setting out and experiencing part or all of what the trail has to offer for the current hiking season. Hiking the AT weather a thru or section hike continues to give me the most remarkable wilderness adventure and outdoor education. swamp dawg