Over five years ago my brother and husband did a one-week section hike of the Appalachian trail in Virginia. It had always been a passion for each of them to hike the entire trail but time, work and other obligations would always deter that plan. So, instead they agreed to section hike it each year with the hope of finishing it in their senior years.
I considered joining them that first year but had only experienced day hikes and was not confident in my abilities. I also was not convinced the overnight camping would be for me. I enjoyed hearing about their adventures and seeing all the beautiful photos taken during their trek. By year two, I decided I would get geared up and join the party.
The second year our 20-year old son joined us and again we met up in Virginia where we did another section of the A.T. with my brother from Georgia. That was the year I fell in love with the good and not so good of the backpacking/camping/hiking experience. We had four days of rain and one night a total of 4 inches fell, flooding our camp site. Through it all I surprised myself how much fun I was having!
I vividly remember that third night at our camp site. I was a bit cold while our soggy campfire once again petered out under the rainfall. Standing there in my poncho with the rain trickling down my face I felt at peace and had a big smile on my face. I was content and reflected on how far we had come and the wonderous natural beauty we had seen. I was delighted by the sounds of the forest and fragrances of the mountain laurel and the great company of my dear family to share all this with. My senses were alive and I felt very in touch with what was truly important in life. Who knew I would be able to keep up with the “boys” but more importantly find something that replenished my soul.
Since that second year, we have continued our annual Section Hiking tradition with various family members and friends. We’ve met up in Tennessee, Vermont, Maine and this year will be Maryland. Sure, we’ve had some trips cut short due to injuries but that’s just all part of it, right? It’s amazing what I learn each year, how little I need to be happy and how much this great planet has to offer.