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. Sometimes the dirt path climbs up (or down) a steep hill. Other times it leads to an overlook with beautiful views of valleys below or mountain ranges to the horizon. But 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, propped up with logs or rock retaining walls on steep hillsides, zigzagging with switchbacks or climbing man-made steps. (Thanks, trail maintenance crews!) Now 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. At 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!) There 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…) Or 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.) It 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!