Mark Twain

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do ...
Explore. Dream. Discover." Mark Twain

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Talk the Walk - Virtual Appalachian Trail Hike

Some people have a "bucket list" ... stuff they want to see or do before they die.  I don't have that kind of list.

But over the last 10 years or so, I have had a small voice inside me that whispers a nagging message.

"Too bad you never hiked the Appalachian Trail."  

Yeah ... I know ... that sounds like sort of a mid-life crisis reaction ... something you do because you fear advancing age and you gotta squeeze in just one more thing ... hoping to slow down the march of time.  Some people buy a red sports car, some have an extra marital affairs, some take up running, some live in house boat and sail off to see the world.

Me? ... I would have loved to walk the Appalachian Trail.  

Well, I am past my mid-life now at 65.  But the AT hike idea did pop into my head around 50.  And although my husband and I discovered light hiking late in life (our 50's), our later years have been filled with family responsibilities for me and increasing visual impairment for him.  So even light hiking now is out unless you considered the walk from the kitchen to the living room a "light hike".  We weren't campers, or hikers, or outdoors enthusiasts earlier in life.  The preparation for so strenuous an adventure wasn't there. 

But it doesn't stop me from reading about people who have taken long hikes.  Currently I am reading Walking Home, A Woman's Pilgrimage on the Appalachian Trail by Kelly Winters (publication 2001).
Does she look 65 years old to you?
Maybe in my next life.
It is one of many books I have read about people who have thru-hiked this 2160 mile trail on the eastern coast of the US.  I recommend it if you enjoy arm chair travel books that share an adventure you probably would never take.  I think it is out of print, but my library had it. 

Then I got to thinking.  I can't actually walk the AT trail, but wouldn't it be fun to virtually walk it.  This trail has a long shared documented history with many pictures.  Wouldn't it be fun to periodically apply my milage to the Appalachian Trail (AT) map and see where I wind up each time.  What are the sights I passed and the typical challenges of that trail, what can I expect going forward, and how long would it take for me to virtually walk the entire distance?  Yes, I am not making sterling progress on my current 1,000 miles a year goal - although I am picking up steam (and distance - with more on that later).  But, heck, it is a virtual walk and I am actually walking the steps anyway so why not see how they play out on the AT map.

This new posting series will be called The Virtual Appalachian Trail Hike.  And I will do my first post at the beginning of September.  It will give me time to get organized.  I will apply my total August mileage to the AT and report on what I passed with pictures.  (I will try to avoid waxing on about my virtual blisters!)

I am also looking for an online map of the AT that will allow me to post a little marker on it - sort of a visual that shows where I virtually am.  I haven't found anything yet.

I would welcome company - either with comments on my "adventures" or with reports on your own progress should you care to join me in this walk.  Hey, come on!  2160 miles sounds like a big number, but ... really ... it is just a walk in the woods!

Oh, you should also check out A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson! (My review here.) It is my favorite book of all time!  It is the story of the author walking the trail.  He is so unprepared at first that he makes me look like an AT veteran!  Great fun.



  1. Virtual walking sounds like a great idea . . . 2100 miles sounds like it would take forever though . . . I am not meeting my walking goals either. I think it is Snickers fault, she wants to stop and smell too many mailboxes.

  2. I will have to get those books! As for the trail, I would love to hike it! I won't make 1,000 miles thisyear either...not even on my bike!

  3. Do they not have this trail on walker tracker?

  4. I'd love to join you on the walk. We can talk about it tomorrow at knitting.

  5. I would love to join you on this adventure !!! Hiking the AT has been On my "bucket" list since 1999 when my daughter did her first thru hike--she has completed two more since !!!! Hubby and I have been "tail angels" on many occassions and have hiked small sections of the AT here in New Hampshire.

  6. I am joining you on your virtual hike. Looking forward to it.

  7. I sat down to post my first Virtual AT hike today... and found your site...I had planned to hike the trail this year for my 55th birthday...but instead I am a mother again...raising my two granddaughters, ages 7 & 8. They are an unexpected joy; but I had not written them into my life plan. Maybe we will "meet" each other on the trail! Good luck!


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