By Adam Beard and Megan Kelly
The decision to walk this age-old bucket-lister came at the end of January after a particularly frustrating night of waiting tables on Megan's part. We thought it over and half joking decided it would be a good idea. The next couple months passed in a frenzy of preparation and the boxing up of all our homely possessions and suddenly we found ourselves homeless, traveling across the country to begin the Appalachian Trail. When we set out on April 6th we naively pictured romantic nights around a campfire and breezy afternoons of writing in our journals. Instead we found that nearly all our time needed to be spent hiking. And so we hiked and hiked and hiked. And after passing out for eight hours in our tent, we would hike some more.
Fortunately as we were walking we came across some amazing places and unique people who made our time hiking feel justified and adventurous. There were moments of overwhelming doubt and sometimes more than a week without a shower. But somehow whenever the trail seemed impossible, fellow hikers would appear with encouragement, a funny quip about their day, or an extra Lil' Debbie snack. Soon we realized the trail was more than a moment submersed in nature but an opportunity to bond with people stripped bare of their defining titles, jobs or things. Things like food, water, shelter and companionship became our main foci during the day and was a time to be free from the responsibilities and "noise" that seep into ordinary life. With this realization, we continued the adventure with new eyes and experienced fulfillment in mountain top sunsets with newly made friends, refreshing waterfalls to replace showers and moments with wildlife in their raw state.
In the end, we were surprised to find ourselves standing at the terminus, having traveled 2,182.5 miles, in just over 5 1/2 months, from Amicalola Falls State Park in Georgia to Baxter State Park in Maine. Looking back at our accomplishment just a few months later we can only smile, shake our heads and ask ourselves, What did we just do and how did we do it? And I think for us, that's what we wanted out of an adventure.