Thinking of hiking the almost 2,200 miles of the Appalachian Trail (AT) can be daunting, even to the most avid and experienced hiker. Such a hike takes months or maybe even years of preparation. Not only does one have to prepare for completing the hike itself, but also has to plan and organize things at home so they can be left for 5-6 months. Many people have done this and completed their journey from Georgia to Maine, or the other way around. Typically, thru-hikers are young people who may not have acquired many life-changing responsibilities yet, or those who have retired from their careers, finished raising their children and now have the freedom to step away for a little while. There are also those have just decided that they need a break from their current lifestyle and decide to go on this journey to “find” or “re-find” themselves. Others, though, have decided to take things slower and hike the AT a little bit at a time. Their journey will most likely take years or even decades to complete. Those of us who take this route, are called section-hikers. As much as many of us would love to complete the Appalachian Trail all at once, in its entirety, we are just not in a place in our lives that will permit it.
I have hiked many trails over the years, but never the Appalachian Trail. Recently, my wife and I decided to start hiking the AT, one section at a time. We planned our first hike over a few months and convinced my parents to keep our three girls for a full week. I took enough vacation at work so that I could have about two weeks off. That would give me a few days before our hike to pack and a few days after to recover. For our first section hike, we started at Amicalola Falls State Park in Georgia and hiked to Neel Gap. I write this to chronicle my family’s section hikes for you. I hope to pass some of our learnings, triumphs, and failures to all those who plan to hike the Appalachian Trail, whether you are a thru-hiker, section-hiker, or day-hiker. In the drop-down menu under “Hiking the Appalachian Trail: One Section at a Time” you can find a post for each section as we hike it. Enjoy!