Autumn on the Appalachian Trail — AAH!

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The heat of summer relented in September and I had a brilliant idea. (I’m full of ideas, but this one had some oomph.) Out of the blue, I was inspired to hike the Appalachian Trail in Virginia–in short pieces, of course. I am no through-hiker, except in my dreams. The first goal is to hike the Central Section of Shenandoah Park. It is the most hiker-friendly section with many access points and support services along Skyline Drive.

I was proud to complete the 4+ miles from South River Falls Picnic Grounds to Swift Run Gap in two hours. The first mile was @#!%, but after that everything seemed to find a rhythm. Even Bill Bryson would be pleased, I’m sure. (He is author of A Walk in the Woods, in case you didn’t know.) The thin ribbon of a trail was beautiful. The trees were so interesting. Ankle-high wildflowers nodded as I walked by. Lichen was fascinating, as well as the rocks. My post-hike elation lasted for days. I said things like, “Hiking the trail makes the rest of life possible!” “I need to be out in nature!” “The energy up there is something else!” “I have found my way. I need to be on the trail!”

One senior, solo backpacker happened by. I asked her how many nights she had been out. With the biggest smile possible on her little weathered face, she said, “Three of the rainiest nights I have ever known.” Nothing as miserable as rain was going to spoil her delight! I surmised her age to be roughly 65 and thought if she can do that, then I can do this dry, daylight walk. Such an inspiration she was!

The AT speaks to physical conditioning, emotional well-being, freedom, and loss of fear. More on these topics as my hikes continue. For now, enjoy the photos below from several outings.

Happy Trails!

Louise

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Resting under a hemlock at Baldface Mt.

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The Appalachian Trail

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Rainbow across the Valley from Blackrock

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Rocks soaking up the dappled light

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Sunset from Skyline Drive over Shenandoah Valley

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