Conquering 23 miles on the Appalachian Trail

2014 was a huge life-changing year for me. I had a lot of ups and a lot of downs – all allowing me to change, gain strength, and become who I am today. One of the ups for me was finally planning for a backcountry backpacking trip. This is something that I have dreamed of doing for years, but I had never had the guts or the time to actually go for it. The opportunity finally came around with a plan to conquer a section of the Appalachian Trail. In order to do this, we had to do a lot of training hikes and months of preparation.

During the preparation period, purchasing proper gear was a must. Backpackers want to make sure that the gear that they carry is minimal weight with multiple uses. Being creative is handy when it comes to figuring out what to take and how. After far exceeding multiple visits to our local outdoor recreational stores, my son and I were finally ready for our journey.

Before our goal hike on the Appalachian Trail, we did a few practice hikes, which included Slaughter Mountain and Coosa Bald, located in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of North GA. The elevation of Slaughter Mountain is 4337 feet. We began our hike at Vogel State Park, which is just under 2500 feet in elevation. This was a 12-1/2 mile, one night trip, and we completed this hike in just 24 hours, which means that we climbed 1800 feet up and hiked another 1800 feet back down in just one day. I am exhausted just thinking about it! It was definitely the absolute hardest physical thing that I have ever done – including giving birth to my two sons.

At the moment that we finished this backpacking trip, I was ready to sell all of my backpacking equipment and hang it up for good. Our Appalachian Trail hike was just a few weeks away, and I swore that I was not going on that trip. In fact, I swore off all backpacking trips for the rest of my life; however, after a few days of recovery, I began to appreciate the accomplishment that I had just made and decided to trek on.

I am happy to announce that I did make the Appalachian Trail hike, and it was absolutely amazing! We started at Springer Mountain, which is the southern terminus of the AT, and continued our trip to Woody Gap. The trek from Springer to Woody is about 21 miles, but we traveled a few other side trails on the way and estimated that our trip total was around 23 miles. We were able to accomplish this trip a little more leisurely than the trip up Slaughter Mountain, and the elevation change was nowhere near as harsh. We completed this trek in 3 nights, and it completely rekindled my love and passion for backpacking. I am very happy that I continued to this trip and didn’t give up after the trek up and down Slaughter Mountain, just a few weeks prior.

Spring is near, and I am itching to get back on the trail. In my closet, my backpack stays mostly packed, with just a few missing items, so I can always go and fulfill my passion just one more time at a moment’s notice.

If you’re interested in learning how Tiffany prepared for her trip on the AT; what food she packed, and how she goes to the bathroom on the trail, listen to episode #42 of TEA of Life Podcast.

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