Hike 8: Appalachian Trail

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I did it, folks! I finally started hiking the Appalachian Trail! I just decided there wasn’t anything to do but to do it and started out!

That’s a total lie. There’s not a bone in my body with enough spontaneity to ever seriously utter those words about anything except ripping off a Band-Aid.

But I did – FINALLY – knock out my first section hike.

It was about a 100-feet-long section – but it was still a section so shut your mouth. Also, I did it without oxygen. Yes, it was 100 feet on a road atop Fontana Dam, but I DID IT, darn you.

So saying I completed a section hike might be a bit of a stretch.

I read somewhere once that if the water levels in Fontana Lake are low enough, you can see the old roads that were flooded over. We didn't find them.

I read somewhere once that if the water levels in Fontana Lake are low enough, you can see the old roads that were flooded over. The water was still quite low, but we didn’t find anything but dirt.

My Hike Eight is a bit of a cheat, but I couldn’t help but throw this in here. The day we hit Juney Whank Falls, we kept driving around the area. I’m not really sure how or why, but we ended up at Fontana Dam.

Last year we came close to it when we visited the Road to Nowhere. We drove up hoping the water level would still be low enough for us to see some of the old road that was flooded out, but we either weren’t in the right spot or the water was already over it. Nevertheless, I checked out the giant Appalachian Trail board outside their visitor’s center and we all walked around the dam.

100 feet down. 11,447,040 to go.

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“The Appalachian Trail Girl’s Guide”

After I finished “Four Boots, One Journey,” I switched things up and read a “Part Memoir, Part Manifesto” from a girl’s point of view on the Appalachian Trail. Megan Maxwell’s mission with her book “The Appalachian Trail Girl’s Guide” is to inspire more women to hike and camp and be confident in their outdoor abilities.

Sold! I’m so sold. In fact, I was going to stay home and clean out my car this weekend before I go on a canoeing trip, but I’m so stoked for hiking that I’m going to let the dog hair and Coke Zero bottles keep piling up and go hiking. Then I’m going to go canoeing – and probably hiking if I can convince my cousin to abandon the canoe long enough. But for real, by the time this post goes live, I’ll be panting along a trail at Big Bone Lick. The car wash will still be there when I get home.

But all shenanigans aside, this was another great book. Before reading it, I was solely focused on hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. Not that I didn’t want to hike the Appalachian Trail, it just didn’t appeal to me as much. But after reading this, I’m dying to hike this trail and I’m plotting a way to knock out a section hike, ASAP.

It was also a nice contrast to the book I had just finished reading. “Four Boots, One Journey” was written by someone older taking a very different kind of journey, and it had a very different vibe. “Girl’s Guide,” was written by a recent college graduate who enjoyed hiking. She wasn’t on a quest to find herself or get over a tragic loss. She was just trying to hike.

The book was full of helpful information for things I wonder about, such as dealing with feminine hygiene on the trail, and what it’s like to be a woman on a trail dominated by men. She keeps the trail guide vibe and lays out section hikes to try, the best places to see, and trail angels along the way. (Trail angels are people who help hikers out or let hikers stay with them, either for free, a small fee or work trade. See, I’m learning the lingo already!)

Added bonus: She’s has a blog and she’s still very active with it. (Check out http://appalachiantrailgirl.com/) I fell down a wormhole with her blog and found myself reading for almost an hour when I was supposed to be writing this post. It’s full of information about more hiking (like this post about the Great Sand Dunes), gear, jobs for thru-hikers and other adventures (like biking along the Pacific Coast with her mother).

Bottom line: If you’re interested in a thru-hike or sections of the Appalachian Trail, pick up this book.