Traveling opens up doors you never knew even existed. Whether trekking through the streets of Hong Kong or climbing to the peak of Machu Picchu, you are exposed to unique cultures, one-of-a-kind characters, and mind-altering perceptions of the world. Yet, sometimes the most enlightening facets of travel come in moments of solitude. It for this reason nature holds a special place in my heart, and no place across the planet is more special than the Appalachian Trail. Constantly shifting and forever illuminating, the Appalachian Trail is fascinating. Here are five of the most intriguing facts I have discovered:
1. The trail travels through fourteen different states along the East coast.
Seriously, fourteen different states. It begins in Georgia and continues all the way into Maine. Should you have the time, you could literally follow the same hiking path from the Southeast into the furthest northeastern corner of the United States. It is for this reason that the Appalachian Trail is considered the longest “hiking-only” footpath in the world.
2. The trail is not only the largest, but also the longest running volunteer conservation project in the world.
31 distinct entities provide upkeep for the trail to ensure it retains its immaculate and prestigious reputation. Clearly, there is a reason the Appalachian Trail yields some of the most beautiful sites in all of America.
3. Believe it or not, going down hill is actually even harder than going uphill.
While of course it is tremendously difficult traveling up a mountain with a 30 pound pack on your back, it is worse on your body traveling down that same mountain. The reason for this is in your knees. Your joints have trouble sustaining the high pressure and as a result, severe pain can develop. Should you decide to undertake this trail, make sure you have some sort of trekking pole to ease the pressure.
4. Magic is real.
Well, “trail magic” is anyway. This non-supernatural phenomenon is generosity in reality. From a passerby handing out candy bars to a camper grilling hotdogs for strangers, these acts of kindness are not soon to be forgotten. When dehydration, hunger, and exhaustion culminate together in a whirlwind of hardship, these “trail angels” will potentially save your life.
5. Hiking is amazing physical and mental therapy.
After the initial talkative phase with your friends, each individual settles into his/her own thoughts and can assess their own life in moments of transcendental reflection. Look out on postcard views as you push your body to the limit. Where working out is often therapy for many, hiking is actually physical therapy shrouded in the beauty of the world. Frankly, there is nothing better for a vacation after you have been sitting in a desk chair for months on end.
Expanding your horizons, both literally and figuratively, have never been more beneficial than at the Appalachian Trail. Do yourself a favor and pack a bag today.