Walk in the Woods?

Of course, “everyone” knows that hiking the Appalachian Trail is a Walk in the Woods. Mention backpacking on the AT and folks can picture the dirt path wandering through forest glades. path in woodsSometimes the dirt path climbs up (or down) a steep hill. dirt path up the hillOther times it leads to an overlook with beautiful views of valleys below or mountain ranges to the horizon. dirt path to overlookBut the Appalachian Trail is much more than a mere walk in the woods. Finding a section of path with (relatively) smooth dirt is a relief. Far more often, footing is precarious, filled with tree roots, root filled pathpropped up with logs or rock retaining walls on steep hillsides, path with log supportszigzagging with switchbacks or climbing man-made steps. (Thanks, trail maintenance crews!) steps on the pathNow you might point out all of the above are still variations of a dirt path wandering in the woods, which is true. However, sometimes the path is hardly visible. Underlying dirt is covered with dead leaves or with fallen pine needles. pine needle pathAt times the path continues through woods, but is a difficult clamber through jumbled boulders and tippy loose rocks. (Keep an eye out for blazes to stay on the path!) path through rock jumbleThere are many miles of the Appalachian Trail that are not in the woods at all. The path may be a steep walk over tilted bedrock. (I can’t imagine crossing this when it’s wet and slippery…) path over tilted bedrockOr the path may cross meadows–on top of mountains or across farmers’ fields. (There were cows on the other side of this hill, laying in the shade and chewing their cud.) meadow walkIt would be boring to wander a dirt trail under trees for mile after mile after mile. We are happy that backpacking the Appalachian Trail is much more than merely a walk in the woods!

 

 

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