At age 72, I hiked the 2,250 mile long Appalachian Trail that starts in northern Georgia and winds it's way through 14 states along the eastern seaboard with its terminus at Mt. Katahdin in northern Maine. Two years earlier, I had hiked the 2,650 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail on the West Coast.
Compared to the AT, the PCT was a cake walk. The AT is a brutal hike. The trail is littered with rocks and boulders left behind from retreating glaciers. Mud and bog holes would suck the shoes off my feet, while exposed tree roots constantly tried to sprain or break my ankles.
To ascend a mountain, the PCT made use of multiple switchbacks that climbed up the side of a mountain, for gradual elevation gain. Not so the AT. It doesn't know what a switchback looks like. When it ascends a mountain, it heads straight up toward the summit and once on top, it drops straight down the other side. To keep from falling off the mountain, it was necessary to hold on to tree roots and branches to descend to the valley floor.
Bears were common and were known to raid tents for food. Rain was a constant companion. There were swollen streams and rivers to cross and always the danger of getting lost in the woods of the 'Green Tunnel'.
In the 100 Mile Wilderness, in northern Maine, a place with no settlements or human occupation and no roads or highways that crosssed the trail, my heart gave out due to atrial fibrillation . A chance ride from a group of canoeists got me to the nearest highway and I was able to hitchhike into Millenocket, Maine, where my wife and daughter met me.
On our way to Boston to catch a flight home, we passed through Freeport, Maine, home to the famous outdoor clothier - L.L. Bean. We stopped to visit the stores. While there, my daughter Allison bought me a pair of Gabby Maria Socks - titled 'Not All Who Wander Are Lost'.
It's been several years now since I made the journey, but the Gabby Maria Socks I received as a gift from my daughter are a constant reminder to me of the great adventure I had hiking the Appalachian Trail. They put a smile on my face everytime I put them on. Thanks Allison, and thanks Gabby Maria.