Sometimes mom has my back, and that was definitely true starting in March 2020. Many times since then mom and I spent hours hiking, getting closer to my goal of hiking the whole Appalachian Trail. Mom mapped out hikes for us and dad would drop us off and pick us up. We kept at it after going halfway through Pennsylvania, then all the way through Pennsylvania, then through New Jersey, then New York, then Maryland and West Virginia! All told, we hiked 500 miles in 2020, from the NY/CT border to Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park.
We kept going in 2021. I’m nearly done with Connecticut now and will be over halfway through Virginia and into Massachusetts by the end of the summer.
How many people do that?!
Ages ago I would never have thought I could do something like that. I’m not really athletic and hate most sports. It’s taken me a long time to learn soccer and I even used to go to physical therapy all the time. You would think a long time ago that this would have been majorly too hard for me. But it wasn’t. I’m even strong enough to go over 20 miles in a day. (My longest hike was 20.2 miles.)
More than anything selling in a store, the Appalachian Trail is the best present there is. I’m a huge fan of the way it lets you be surrounded by nature whether you’re in a crowded area or not. And thanks to thousands of volunteers, it’s all marked with white blazes so that I can lead the way without worrying about a map. Best of all are the mile markers and signs helping you celebrate your progress!
I love hiking for many reasons! It makes me calm to do that for hours, and mom is with me, which is amazing. I’m so proud of how long I can hike and how good I’ve gotten at doing it. All of my confidence comes from being so good at it. I’m planning to hike as much as I can this summer!
Many times mom made mistakes. We hiked north one time that we meant to go south. We sometimes had more miles to our destination than we thought. We got surprised by big climbs. And we were not ready for crazy water crossings. Sometimes we got freaked out by animals, like snakes or a bear someone saw nearby.
But no time was ever bad. And the mistakes were even part of the fun! Sometimes they were even the best part. And I’m more forgiving when we’re hiking because it’s my favorite thing. I’m all convinced that this has helped me be more forgiving off the trail, too. Another great thing to thank the Appalachian Trail for!
More than anything else, I love how much time it lets me spend with mom. We’ll be hiking for 8 or 10 hours a day just the two of us. We mostly are quiet but sometimes sing or talk. She always points out animals and mud and cool views, which she loves, and always makes me stop to look. Mainly I don’t mind but I’d often prefer to keep going.
My trail name is Calypso. I picked that because it was the name of my elementary school and Jacques Cousteau’s research boat. I love oceanography and exploring and I love my school and Mrs. G, so it seemed like the perfect choice.
Hope to see you on the trail!