Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Travel Tales: My Appalachian Trail Fail

When it comes to backpacking, I’m an epic failure.

First time giving it a real shot was on the Appalachian Trail about ten years ago. Our plan was six days along the Blue Ridge Mountains crisscrossing Virginia’s awe-inspiring Skyline Drive.

Goal: cover about ten miles each day. That sounded reasonable, right? Relatively healthy guy in his mid-forties, swimmer in college, occasional triathlete. Who needs to train with a backpack? I hear you say oofta.

I made it one dang day!

Forty pound backpack (too much), new hiking boots (dumb), not enough water (double dumb). I bonked at mile eight. Bellyached the last couple of klicks. Even traded my pack for my wife’s lighter one!

Full on shame.

There were six of us. Fortunately (for my ego!) two others were about as bad off as I was. So we ditched the Appalachian Trail and set up camp in Shenandoah National Park.

Great decision despite the major fail. We basically hiked a few miles each day for the rest of the week.

Day-hiking! Now that’s something I could do. It’s really a fancy way of describing walking outside and enjoying nature, but at least I’d found a new hobby. I guess I wasn’t the trim college athlete I thought I was.

For the past decade, then, my wife and I have been day-hiking sans backpacks. Yeah, I know. Not really like backpacking, but hear me out. Day-hiking can be just as enjoyable because you’re still outdoors and in the company of friends.

Last year we day-hiked the Kansas Badlands. Officially, Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park in western Kansas. We scheduled a tour (only way to go off-trail) and took in the stark beauty of eroded chalk towers reminiscent of the ancient fortress walls of Old Jerusalem (thus the park name).

We also got in about six or seven miles of hiking. I had plenty of water. My boots were thoroughly broken in. And I had no weight on my back! It was a blast.

I even wrote about it – which is the real kicker. My short article got accepted by a small town paper and they even paid me for it! So I’m a professional travel writer now? Well, I don’t consider myself an expert by any means.

But heh, like you, I’m just hiking along, enjoying life. Hoping our trails one day cross.

Image by Pexels from Pixabay.

P.S. Watch for this article to appear soon as a Travel Tale at The Broke Backpacker Instagram account. Follow them for a slew of inspirational adventures.

(via PayPal.Me - an e-book from Tule Fog Press.) 
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