Day 2 – March 22, 2020, A Story of Our Appalachian Trail Thru-Hike
We couldn’t believe it… We were officially saying our goodbyes to our friend, my dad, and the societal life we had lived before. As we picked up our packs weighing around 40 pounds, our companions began their hike back to the van, while we continued north to the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail. We took the flimsy fiberglass poles from the tent my dad brought, since our Mier trekking pole tent needed something to hold it up. It was a temporary solution, but we didn’t know what else to do.
I felt as though I could hear both of our hearts pounding as we reached the southern terminus. It was official. We were hiking across the country and both of us knew there was no going back. The feeling of such deep commitment was exhilarating and empowering, knowing that together, we were setting out to accomplish one of the biggest achievements of our lives.
For 4.5 years, Baby Bear and I strived to make the world a better place for others. It was our turn to develop a deeper understanding of what life was all about for us. We were ready for it, no matter what kind of challenges we would be faced with. As we reached the southern terminus, we found a log book and it was empty. We were excited to add our names and a message to encourage other hikers to consider a vegan lifestyle to start their hike strong and finish stronger.
We stood in awe as we came across another waterfall. Many of the trees were naked and the ground was covered in brown leaf litter and yet, we couldn’t believe how beautiful the trail was right off the bat, having only hiked a few miles into the AT. It was supposed to rain, but we were lucky and the rain held out for the entire day. We were even able to build a fire when we found camp in the evening. I admired Baby Bear’s superior fire building skills.
He was also very skilled right away at throwing the paracord over tree limbs to hang our food bags and protect them from wild animals such as bears. We ate a couple date nut balls and a Clif bar for dinner… it wasn’t the best meal, but since our bodies were just getting used to the intensity of our exercise, we didn’t feel very hungry anyway. We set up our makeshift tent with the flimsy poles and got into our sleeping bags, thinking
we’d chat for awhile before going to sleep. As soon as our heads hit our ground mats, we were out cold, exhausted from the day’s hike, even though we only hiked about 6 miles!
We woke up several times throughout the night, thinking we heard an animal rustling leaves just outside the tent nearby. Having never encountered a bear up close before, we had strong BEARanoia, knowing that we were in THEIR territory.
In the middle of the night, we awoke to realize that it was raining heavily and it was at this point we started to doubt if our tent was actually waterproof. Large droplets of water splashed onto our faces and sleeping bags, saturating everything inside the tent. And so the adventure begins…