Saturday, October 10, 2009

we hiked the appalachian trail! (well, sort of . . . but not really)

Suzanne and I went on a fantastic trip to the New England states. It started with a conversation (while hiking in the Arizona desert) about how cool it would be to hike on the Appalachian trail. The trip evolved into much, much more because Suzanne is such an awesome trip planner.
Among the many activities, we planned two day hikes on the Appalachian trail. In case you don't know (because I didn't) the trail is 2025 miles long and stretches from Maine to Georgia. So we researched some day hikes in Vermont and New Hampshire. We parked the car and had to document the event with photos so here we are at the trailhead sign.We walked about 20 steps into the woods and there were 3 options to take. There was the north/south option and there was a path going west, but it was gated. The guide book we referenced said the trail headed in a southern direction and would lead us to a great swimming hole at a little over 2 miles down the trail. Obviously we weren't planning to swim in October, but that would be our turning around point. So we headed south down a very wide and smooth and well maintained path. Suzanne even mentioned how nice it was that the trail was so wide because we could walk side by side instead of one ahead of the other like we normally hike on most trails. Isn't it gorgeous?
We were down the trail a good 30 minutes before we had a small inkling that maybe we were not on the right path. We were not seeing the features we had read about. Finally after we had been hiking for well over an hour, we ran into another hiker. We asked if this was actually the right trail. "Oh no, the trail is WAY back by the parking lot and it is a small, thin trail that heads out diagonally and immediately uphill." (Well, . . . . . alrighty then.)
So . . . we walked several miles back to the car. Looked at the trail we had obviously missed, had a good laugh and decided we'd try again tomorrow.
DAY 2: New state, new trailhead. We again followed the directions in the guidebook and walked from the parking lot 1/10th of a mile to a footbridge over an absolutely beautiful gorge. Again we had to document ourselves on the trail because we knew FOR SURE that we were on the right path and the footbridge was absolutely part of the official trail. YAY! We were on our way! So we followed the path off the end of the bridge and along the river. Beautiful trees, beautiful river, beautiful trail, beautiful weather, beautiful everything. We hiked down the trail for over an hour and then it merged onto a service road which led into a hunting camp area, which lead to a dead end. What the heck?? Did we miss a turn??? It still had been a nice hike so we followed the trail back to the bridge and asked the next hiker we saw where the trail went. He showed us that the trail took a sharp right turn at the end of the bridge and up over the nearby hill. Then he said "I don't mean to be demeaning to you or anything, but the trail is marked quite clearly with these blazing marks in the trees." (Well, . . . . alrighty then.) We look up and there they are, clear white marks in the trees. Who would have thought? We had spent a year hiking in the desert where you get your clues from the ground. No trees for miles around. Who would have thought to look up in the trees?
As we were leaving we ran into this adorable girl. She looks like a serious hiker don't you think? She was hiking the entire 2025 mile trail! She told us she was covering about 9 to 15 miles a day. It was amazing visiting with her. We told her we needed to post our pictures side by side with hers - with our $19.99 discount tennis shoes, and our 16 oz. bottles of water.
So anyway - here's what we ended up with: two days, two states, five hours of hiking, and we were actually on the Appalachian trail for maybe all of 300 yards!


Lauri said...

Too funny! I'm anxious to hear and see more of your wonderful trip.

Anonymous said...

So fun, especially your comment about the difference between desert hiking and New England! What a nice experience, glad you got to go!

Katie said...

I have a room mate who lives in Vermont and we drove up to visit her one thanksgiving. It's GORGEOUS up there. I might be completely happy settling in Vermont.

Great trip!

Suzanne Barker said...

It was still a great hike and we did hike the Applachian trail! Just not for very long.

Megan said...

How fun! It looks like a beautiful trip and fun memories and stories!

Bandanamom said...

How smart of that girl to take her dog with her. I bet that made her parents feel better about it too! I wish I was as cool as you and Suzanne and could do all the cool things you guys do!


Grant said...

Don't feel bad about the white marks. We used part of the A.T. trail for a Kodiak trip for scouts, and one of our groups followed the wrong markings and got..."misplaced." We spent the morning after that hiking from sun-up until we found them.