The Appalachian Trail just celebrated its 80th birthday this year! Join CCHappyMom as I trek through a tiny portion of the 2,181 mile trail and prepare to be awed by God's gorgeous fall display!
Since the leaves are BEAUTIFUL in the North East this time of year, my nice husband took our family on a hike to the “Annapolis Rock”, a towering, jagged spot overlooking the wide, green valley where we live in western Maryland.
Walking sticks (and phones!) in hand, we hiked uphill for about 90 minutes, crunching fire-engine red, sunshine gold, and warm brown leaves underfoot. A colorful canopy arched over our heads, blocking the sun and beckoning us onward.
Every few hundred feet, we noticed 2 inch by 6 inch rectangles painted on trees, reassuring us that we were following the correct path. As the trail grew steeper, we were thankful for the logs placed on the path which provided a natural “step” for our feet.
During most of our trek we were alone with the trees, chatting (or singing!) amongst ourselves. Passing others families with children, couples, or sun-tanned trail veterans, we would smile, nod, or ask, “Are there bathrooms at the top?” (The answer, for those of you who are wondering, was “Yes”! A very rustic, wooden port-a-potty that provided not toilet paper, but a rectangular bin full of wood shavings! Thankfully, I had thought to bring Kleenex, so we didn’t have to think about the shavings!)
As we approached the overlook for the Annapolis Rock, our path veered off the main trail, heading slightly downhill. After about ¼ of a mile, the trees began to thin, and we could glimpse our valley, yawning below the watchful eye of the Annapolis Rock. More like a row of rugged rocks, the peak provided a magnificent view. We were tempted to crawl out to the edge of the rocks to spy the dramatic drop first-hand, but we decided to sight-see from a safe distance!
Immersed in northeastern fall foliage? Check.
Sunshine and cloudless sky? Check.
Making memories with my sweet ones? Check.
Our hike down the trail provided many fun opportunities for me to frantically encourage, “Slow Down!!!” as my kids seemed to be racing down the steep, slippery trail!! “You don’t have to be first!” The friendly, slippery, inter-family competition only truly came to a halt when we ran across an amiable, grizzled, older man sporting a pack on his back, who asked my kids where they were running to. Their manners kicked in (hallelujah!), and they eagerly listened as the man responded to our questions.
He was what they call a “Section-Hiker”, someone who attempts to hike a certain section of the Appalachian Trail. In this case, our hiker had been hiking the Maryland portion of the trail. He was on his 3rd day of his hike, and had only a bit to go. (Maryland’s Appalachian Trail stretches over 41 mountainous miles.) When asked about sleeping, he grinned, pointing to his rolled tent on his back, adding that sometimes he will stay in hostels or designated outdoor campsites. Our new acquaintance had not yet done a “Thru-Hike”, which spans the entire trail from Georgia through Maine. Apparently, about 2 to 3 thousand hikers attempt a Thru-Hike each year, with only approximately 25% of them achieving their goal due to injuries or fatigue. Understandable.
Our family stuck closer together to enjoy the end of our hike, finally sliding through the trees to the sound of the highway at the end of our trail.
Would you have enjoyed my Appalachian Trail hiking trip? Have you ever hiked the Appalachian Trail? Has your family hiked in other Mountain Ranges? Would you like to attempt a “section-hike” through an entire state? (Just don’t choose Virginia! Virginia holds 25% of the entire trail!!)
Sound off below as to where YOUR family has enjoyed hiking! What was the best part?
In the next few days, I will post a few notes from my friend whose family actually operated a trail “hostel” along Maryland’s Appalachian Trail!
In the meantime, Happy Trails!
Feel like learning more about the Appalachian Trail?