Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Appalachian Trail

First, for those that may want a little more background into Lyme disease, here's a link from CNN you may find interesting.

Three teenaged boys from Duncan, OK, targeted Chris Lane, a young man from Australia, because they were bored, they said. Having nothing better to do, they decided to go on a lark and murder someone. Finding the young man jogging, they picked him at random, drove up behind him and shot the college student in the back. First, there is no fixing that kind of mentality, I don’t care what you do. The only solution is a needle in the arm, but perhaps that is too humane. Even wild animals understand that if an individual can’t find a way to fit into the pack, then they are culled from the pack. Second, the idea that they were bored is mind-blowing. With even a modicum of guidance and direction, they should understand that the opportunities for activity, enjoyment, and adventure are too numerous to fit into any one lifetime. The people that can’t find something to do (besides murder) just haven’t opened their eyes to see what is going on around them. The opportunities are too numerous to count.

The Appalachian Trail Regional Office at Boiling Springs,
PA.  It was originally a restaurant in the town's park before
being taken over by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.
We had a chance to encounter one of these opportunities while in Boiling Springs, PA. We have been there several times visiting the many historic sites in the area, and most times we’ve had occasion to see backpackers hiking through, since Boiling Springs and nearby Pine Grove Furnace State Park sit right on the Appalachian Trail. Whether envisioning actually hiking the trail or just being fascinated with the idea, just visiting the Appalachian Trail Conservancy Regional Office (ATC) can’t help excite and enflame the imagination. The regional offices are responsible for maintenance and oversight of the trail. The ATC office in Boiling Springs is the only one of the four centers that is actually located right on the trail.

Adjacent to the ATC office is a large gazebo in the center of
the park.  Through the gazebo you can see the grist mill, built
in 1784 to provide flour and grain for the Carlisle Iron Works.
Properly titled The Appalachian National Scenic Trail, the footpath runs 2,173 miles from Maine to Georgia along the ridges and passes of the Appalachian Mountains. The ATC was formed in 1925, and the trail was designed, marked, and built through the 1920’s and 30’s. It traverses 14 states, and to those familiar with the trail, it just becomes known as the AT. Some hikers do segments each summer until they have connected all the dots, while others, called thru-hikers, tackle the whole thing, taking four to seven months to complete the trail. Just like with paddlers tackling the Great Circle Route, or the Mississippi or Missouri Rivers, or paddling coast-to-coast, it takes a high degree of grit, determination, and commitment. Less than 20% of those who take on the AT complete it.

I suggested to the ranger that I guessed I was a bit too old for such an endeavor. He said that was not the case. While seniors, or those who find they aren’t in as good a shape as they thought when they start, may go slower, they’ve had people of all ages take up the challenge.

Those that have done the AT say it proved to be a defining few months of their lives. The really hard core even look for an encore. There’s the 3,100 mile Cross Divide Trail, which follows the Continental Divide in the Rocky Mountains from Canada to Mexico. Or, for those that enjoy touring by bike, there’s the Ride The Divide bike route nearby that follows a similar route. Both follow some of the most remote, but also some of the most spectacularly scenic, sections of the country.

For just a taste of the adventure, here’s the trailer for the film “Appalachian Impressions.”


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