We caught up with a few Appalachian Trail thru-hikers last May during the 2016 Appalachian Trail Days to learn what the journey is like — and what motivated them to tackle the trail.
When Appalachian Trail Days rolls around every year in mid-May, the town of Damascus, Virginia, sees an influx of slightly smelly, often bearded hikers — and they wouldn’t have it any other way. For over 30 years now, Trail Days in Damascus has celebrated and supported the hordes of hikers who take on the Appalachian Trail, with things like gear repairs, free food, hiking workshops and the annual hiker parade through town.
We got the chance to pick the brains of a few hikers during their break in Damascus — read on for a peek into what it’s like out there on the trail (or just to get some great trail name inspiration).
Q: What was your inspiration for hiking the Appalachian Trail?
“I’m in a transition time in life, moving from New Orleans back to upstate New York, so I’m hiking the trail as a transition between the two.” — Megan (trail name: Lady MacGyver)
“To challenge myself. I’m out here soul-searching.” —Sean (trail name: Cheesy)
“I wanted to get out and see more. I had never seen mountains before. I started southbound and got to see my first-ever real mountain. It was really challenging but I think that’s part of the reason why I came out here, to challenge myself and prove to myself that I can do it.” — Camille (trail name: Flatlander)
Q: Do you have any stories to share?
“I had the unique experience of chasing away a black bear who was becoming just a little too friendly with humans. He was trying to shake someone’s backpack right off of the cable, so we ran at him yelling and making crazy noises until he headed for the hills.” — Megan
“Meeting people on the trail has been a really great part of the AT — you meet someone and become friends within a few hours.” — Camille
Q: How would you summarize your time on the trail in a few words?
“We’re making ourselves miserable to be happy — despite all the hardship, it’s really fulfilling to be out here.” — Camille
“There’s two types of fun: type 1 fun (fun when you’re having it) and type 2 fun (fun when you’re talking about it after the fact), and so far it has definitely been type 2 fun.” — Sean
Take Part in Trail Days
Farm to Feet is thrilled to be sponsoring the 2017 Appalachian Trail Days events. Click here to learn more about the event and how you can get involved.