Saturday, March 20, 2010

Appalachian Trail Maintenance

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I just got back from the AT! I spent spring break in the Nantahala National Forest with eight of my classmates and a few members of the Blue Ridge Hiking Club, cleaning up parts of the Appalachian Trail. Apparently this past winter was the worst the area has seen since the seventies--there were blow downs along much of the section that we worked on, and hikers were getting injured trying to get up and around everything that had fallen in their way. In some places the trail was nearly impassable. We worked for four days and our group collectively cleared 30 miles of trail.

Going on this trip made me realize how difficult hiking the AT can be. Many times we had to climb 2,000 feet in elevation in just under a mile, carrying chainsaws, loppers, and backpacks full of gear. We were on our feet an average of 7 hours a day. Every day was intense, and every day we all sat down to dinner exhausted, our muscles and bones aching. But every day we got a little tougher, closer to one another, and more appreciative of the woods. We met through-hikers who told us stories about the trail and who thanked us for making their 2000 mile journey a little easier. And every day I became more confident that I would eventually hike the AT myself, from Georgia to Maine.

I managed to snap a few photos, and will be sharing them here throughout the coming week. Below are a few that I took along various parts of the AT.

Photo series 63/365

Photo series 64/365

Photo series 65/365

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