The Maryland Section of the Appalachian Trail
In my last blog, I said I was getting ready to hike the Maryland section of the Appalachian Trail. This pass week I hike the section and it was a beautiful and inspiring experience. Andrew Weil and other doctors say, “walking in nature is very good for your health.” I know for me I find it very peaceful and relaxing. It’s just the opposite of my job. Working in a first grade classroom is a very busy experience: nonstop movement and noise. When I hike in nature, the movement I see is peaceful movement: a bubbling stream, birds flying, clouds moving. Sometimes there’s no movement at all.
The Maryland section of the Appalachian Trail is 41 miles. We did it in 4 days at a very leisurely pace averaging 10 miles a day. We carried only daypacks because we stayed at a lodge. Each day we were driven to the trailhead and then picked up at the end of the hike to return to the lodge for hot showers and a delicious dinner.
If you walk the entire AT which is over 2,000 miles you will have climbed the same elevation as climbing Mt Everest sixteen times. The AT is an angulating trail with several mountains. The Maryland section of the AT is along the ridge of South Mountain. It was angulating and several times we went down one side of a gap and up another.
Thru-hikers (hikers who do the entire AT) and section hikers stay at the huts located along the way. Usually these huts are three sided. It takes a lot of planning to do the entire trial: planning where you will stay each night, planning on where you can pick-up food boxes or send home boxes of things you no longer need.
Driving from Dulles Airport in Washington, D.C. to Sharpsburg, Maryland was an eye opener: so different than southern California. Leaving the airport we never went through a big city. We drove through countryside with beautiful farms and large homes until arriving at Sharpsburg, MD. Plus, so much history! We stayed near the Antietam Battlefield where the deadliest day in American History occurred. Twenty-three thousand soldiers were killed or wounded on March 23, 1862. At the Battle of Gettysburg, 51,000 soldiers were killed, wounded captured or missing over three hot summer days in 1863. More Americans died in the Civil War than in any other war. In photos from the Civil War, you see the young men lined up from both sides (not far from each other) shooting one another. It was a bad time to be a young man between the years of 1861 and 1865.
Needless to say, I enjoyed the hiking and learning about the Civil War. The hiking was delightful with views of trees, the Potomac River and farms. There were only six in the group not including the two guides. All the participants were in their sixties or seventies. One fellow climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro at the age of 70.
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