My Upcoming Journey on the Appalachian Trail

It has been some time since I entered words on a page. As I sit here and wonder what is next, I know that the Lord has been placing this trail on my heart. The Appalachian Trail, a winding long distance walk from Georgia to Maine that traverses 14 states and roughly 2,200 miles. I have been curious of this far away place, not really that far, but much of my hiking has been in the Western United States. As I gear up and contemplate what this year will teach me, I keep focusing on my word for the year “Journey”.

Journey is defined by Webster as a trip or tour, mean travel from one place to another, usually means of traveling a long distance and often in dangerous or difficult circumstances. I’m not digging the dangerous part, yet I know I have Jesus on my side and He will guide my every footstep. I do trust that this will be more of a “life journey,” as meditation brings balance to my thoughts and actions in my ways. This relationship of walking with the Lord, meditating on his word provides peace, contentment and joy that lasts a lifetime. I have found solace indeed as I hike trails, when my feet trod over soil, muddy, slimy and sometimes dusty roads, when my thoughts wander to creation and this incredible world that I am part of.

In our life journey, the unexpected may remind us or surprise us. My expectations for this hike builds as the days get closer. What will it be like? How will the weather effect my plans? Who will I meet and minister to along the way? Am I ready to conquer this unknown territory? All these questions with few answers. The lessons I learned from my first long distant hike was expect the unexpected, embrace the unknown and accept where you are right now. It is a funny thing as I plan this hike, prepare my daily milage sheets, plot my resupply boxes and determine where they will be mailed, schedule my nero’s and zero’s (days with little miles or no milage), and when I will finish.

A funny side story: As I am a planner, I have built my excel spreadsheet, planning everyday on the trail, where I would camp, resupply or pick up food and gear boxes, spend town days and take days off, down to the absolutes. Nothing left for chance. There is an event called “Trail Days” that happens every year in Damascus, Virginia and most, if not all thru-hikers attend. As I was plotting my days and milage, I fell short of Damascus by some 20-30 miles. To my luck there is a Hostel ran by a local named Dave and he provides rides for hikers. I called him late Thursday night assuming I would go straight to voice mail but to my surprise he answered the phone. I explained to him my dilemma that I will be a few miles shy of Damascus and wanted to see if I could hitch a ride. My plan was that I would arrive at his fine establishment on Friday, May 13th. He laughed and said, “Sweetheart, if you think you are going to follow an itinerary and arrive here on Friday the 13th, I’ll have a welcome banner with a free beer waiting for you!” I was a bit taken back and explained that I hiked the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) a few years ago, was well aware of the milage I was capable of and understood the dynamics of the trail. Dave stopped me mid-sentence and told me, “This is not the PCT, this is the Appalachian Trail and they are two different worlds.” With that I told him I’d be there Friday morning at 9am and he said, “if that’s the case I’ll have two beers for you!” We hung up and my illusion of this trail changed dramatically.

For the many who know nothing of this trail, it traverses through 14 states including Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. The Appalachian Trail also referred to as the AT is described as the longest hiking-only trail in the world. More than 3 million people are said to hike on a part of this trail yearly. The highest point is Clingmans Dome at 6.643′ and the lowest point is Bear Mountain State Park at 124′. Although the Appalachian Mountains are relatively low when compared to the Sierras or the Rocky Mountains, the amount of climb on the Appalachian Trail for a thru-hike is 515,000′ compared to the PCT which is 315,000′ or the Continental Divide Trail which is 400,000′. That is equivalent to climbing Mt Everest 17 times! So needless to say this will be one incredible and exhausting journey, filled with countless ups and downs.

At this point, I can only imagine what lies on the trail ahead. What treasures the Lord has for me, the people He has planned for me to meet and walk with, and the absolute trust I will need to take countless steps forward, every moment of everyday. This terrain I will walk on and the trees I will be surrounded by will be of nothing I have ever experienced. The nature that will envelop this trek will be something I have no knowledge of. The weather, rain, sleet, snow, wind, humidity and did I say RAIN will be a force to reckon with! The rocks, roots, mud and muck I will conquer daily without complaint, oh right. Surely I will be in the midst of something I have only dreamt about.

I have selected April 15th to start my journey. It will be Good Friday when I climb the 604 wooden steps that precede the AT. It is tradition to start on the “Approach Trail” which will let me know fairly quickly what is in-store for me in the upcoming five month trek. As I considered this hike, I was not fond of the elements that would present themselves, but I truly believe that this is the Lords way of refining me. He has a sweet way of putting me right where I need to be, humbling me and submitting my ways to His ways. So with that, I am training and preparing my heart for the days ahead. May you find a journey that will help you grow and mature in your faith. With God, all things are possible…even the Appalachian Trail.

I am the daughter of a King who is not moved by this world. For my God is with me and goes before me. I do not fear because I am His.

All photos above have been shared by the Ravens. They are wonderful friends that are Triple Crowner’s, hiking all three long distant trails in the US. You can follow their family as they hike:

8 thoughts on “My Upcoming Journey on the Appalachian Trail

  1. I’m excited to follow another of your journeys! We haven’t connected in awhile, but maybe you’ll remember Kim from WA with her PCT dream. It has turned more into a section hike, and I’m re-starting early May. God bless you as you hike the AT. I’ll be praying He uses you in many ways along the way. (I have a new email)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Kelly Beautiful ! Nice seeing you after long………..

    By coincidence the post before this post I just read was of a French woman Miss Marguerite Bourgeois who over 300 years back walked from Ville-Marie(now Montreal) to Quebec to raise educational institutions for Indian girls amongst other tasks . She just relied on Jesus for getting all this done and worked in North America from 1654 when she came here till 12 January 1700.

    Yes, your trail is similar relying on Our Lord for grace and strength to carry on…………

    A peachy day and A Happy New Year to you.


  3. Hi Kelly. Wow, what a journey you have planned. As in the past, we all will be looking forward to your regular updates.


    PS. Enjoy those two beers 😊


  4. My sister and I hiked the AT in 2020. Not much went according to our plan, but I think it happened exactly the way God planned it. Maybe we’ll see you at Trail Days or even have some trail magic for you along the way. I look forward to following you and pray you have a blessed journey!


    • I’m so sorry for your 2020 plans. My husband and I had plans of going to hike The Camino and Israel, but our God had different plans! It would be so nice to meet you on trail this year. I look forward to that! Yes, I hope to be at Trail Days in Damascus 😊


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