National Parks Traveler recently published an article titled Hiking The Appalachian National Scenic Trail: It Takes More Heart than Heel”.
and it was stated that …
“The key to success for young people is to keep the distractions down.
The more you stay on the trail, the better. If you go into town too
much, you’re spending money, maybe on alcohol, and you’re not hiking.”
Well – you definitely spend money in town, and some thru-hikers definitely throw back a beer or two while there (this one included) – but exploring the trail towns along the A.T. is a big part of the experience. In fact, some of my most memborable moments were in the trail towns with other thru-hikers. My personal favorites? Hot Springs, Damascus, Harper’s Ferry, Gorham, Monson and Hanover (back in the days when the fraternity houses let you crash on the floor). I even enjoyed Gatlinburg (which most thru-hikers would be embarrassed to admit) – and I enjoyed it a lot.
You want the A.T. experience? Then get distracted. Take a side hike up Siler Bald, go swimming in the pool at Caledonia State Park, take the gondola ride down to Killington – and yes, stay a night or two in a trail town. The Appalachian Trail is not meant to be a race – it’s meant to be a life experience. There is an old A.T. saying …
“No rain, no pain, no Maine!”
Well there’s a lot of truth to that, but it should also be stated – “No fun, No finish” because you probably will not have the “heart” or the “heel” to walk 2000+ miles if you don’t enjoy it. Do do you want a foot race or a life experience that you will cherish the rest of your life? Stop and smell the roses – at every vista, at every hostel, and yes in every trail town – if you can afford it. Ten years from now, you’ll be glad that you did.
GA – ME 1994