Blount hikers of The AT share memories
From Staff Reports
As part of the celebration of The Appalachian Trail’s 75th anniversary, Blount County hikers of The Appalachian Trail shared some of their memories with readers.
I first put foot on the AT over 20 years ago. I knew instantly that I wanted to go the distance and I undertook to do so on weekends, during vacation periods, or whenever I could disengage from an active life as an insurance agent for a few days to a week or more. Over that period, I have spent as much time, maybe more, on The AT than the typical thru-hiker. As of today, I’ve covered every inch of the trail from the approach trail at Amicolola Falls State Park (Georgia) up to the Susquehanna River in central Pennsylvania. Some sections I have traversed multiple times as I led Scout troops, friends and relatives into the wilderness. I’ve encountered drunks, bears, nudists, people who were lost, people who were ill, skunks, catamounts, people who were out of food or water and various manifestations of idiocy. I’ve also enjoyed the kindness of strangers beyond anything I thought still existed in America and a camaraderie with other backpackers that comes only from shared misery.
John Carlton Templeton, Seymour
My thru-hike started the day after I graduated college at Tennessee Tech, May 8, 2006. My graduation present from my parents was a ride to Springer Mountain, Ga. They dropped me off, and I was on my way to Maine. I topped Mount Katahdin on Oct. 3, five months after beginning my thru-hike. Those 5 months were truly the best time of my life, so far.
My trail name was “Danger Dave.” My favorite part was meeting lots of amazing people on and off the trail. The trail community is really like a giant family. Even though I hiked alone, there were very few times that I was actually alone.
I’ve backpacked since I was 12, but never for such a long distance or time period. I found it was easy to get used to the trail life. The normal day goes something like this: wake up, eat, hike all day, eat, go to sleep, repeat (with few variations). I loved it. I could do whatever I wanted all day, as long as I was walking. Then I just pitched my tent wherever I ended up. I made no firm plans, I didn’t even know how I was going to get home from Maine.
I enjoyed every day out there, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Dave Henn, Maryville
I began my 2,160.4-mile trek from Georgia to Maine on March 10, 1997. Upon departing Springer Mountain, Ga., I had no long-distance hiking experience, but was loaded down with determination to complete my journey as a “thru-hiker.” Upon reaching Mount Katahdin, Maine, some 188-days later, I was very much aware that no one ever successfully thru-hikes The AT without a supporting cast. This would include my family, the benevolent people, “trail angels,” who offered food, shelter, transportation and fellowship, and the hard-working trail maintenance volunteers who maintained the shelters and cleared the footpaths along the way. Last, but not least, fellow hikers who share your burdens, hurt when you hurt, offer encouragement when you want to quit, share food and water with you when they were low on rations, and offer up a sense of humor to make you laugh when you want to cry.
James Richardson, Maryville
EDITOR’S NOTE: Ellie Doughty of Maryville sent us the 2,000-miler application letter she penned to The Appalachian Trail Conservancy. Here is an excerpt from that poignant letter. You can download it in its entirety where you find this story on http://TheDailyTimes.com
My minister asked about my mountaintop experience. It was hard to choose. I’ve stood on many awesome summits. However one stands out, not an apparent one. It was my second trip to Maine with Pam Reddoch and Debbie Way and we hiked from Grafton Notch up Baldpate in late September 2005 and the weather was awful. Pam had slick boots and fell five times. She threw the boots out, thank goodness. It was scariest hiking behind her. It was a cliffy, rainy, foggy, wet, nerve racking day. We didn’t see another soul all day. We were eating lunch at Frye Notch Lean To, with all the clothes in our pack on, it was freezing and someone hikes up. He was wearing a ball cap labelled Maryville. Now Maryville is my hometown, and I can’t believe on an ugly day like this way up in Maine that he’s from Maryville, Tennessee. Turns out he is. It’s Dr. Marmon, the doctor who saved my son’s life many years ago. He carried, Pete, my son in his arms from his office to the emergency room!! And I haven’t seen him in 30 years, and here he is in the middle of nowhere.