Backpacking 700 Miles and Off Trail

It was an ideal backpacking day as I strolled down the Appalachian Trail. The sun was breaking through the forest canopy highlighting the flowers below in full bloom. Eventually, an opening in the trees revealed an afternoon thunderstorm rumbling on the horizon.

As the rain began to pelt me, I scrambled into my rain gear. With limited options, I carefully maneuvered the muddy trail downhill to Trout Creek and Virginia Highway 620.

Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.

– Jennifer Lee, Chief creative officer of Walt Disney Animation Studios

Backpacking the Appalachian Trail

On the afternoon of June 8th as the sun began to emerge once again after the thunderstorm rolled past, I completed 700 miles of the Appalachian Trail. I had been backpacking through the Appalachian Mountains for the last 80 days. And I made the decision to end my thru-hike attempt.

Even though I had carefully considered what ending my thru-hike meant, I opted for a couple days in a local hotel just to ride the emotional roller coaster and make a few phone calls while I had options readily available.

I had experienced unmatched opportunities for scenic views, observing wildlife, hiking exposed rocky ridgelines, and living minimally in the wilderness. I gained new friends that I am already making plans to see off the trail. I interacted with people whose paths I would never have otherwise crossed.

My body had taken a beating backpacking through the 700 miles of tough mountainous terrain, but still trudging along. I strained to see into the crystal ball and focus on what positive experiences I could encounter if I continued hiking the Appalachian Trail.

But as I looked ahead to the next three months, I did not see the fun journey I had experienced to this point. My trek had evolved into an endurance campaign that just happened to be in the woods. Taking time to watch the butterflies and smell the pine would limit my chances of summiting Mount Katahdin before winter storms closed it in October.

When it was no longer fun, it was time for a new adventure. I am passionate about my endeavors and push all-in or fold and roll on to time better spent elsewhere. My bucket list is lengthy, and I can spare no time simply idling along.

Flying out of Roanoke, Virginia and leaving the Appalachian Trail.

It was a great endeavor. I am grateful for the opportunity to experience a 700 mile backpacking trip along the Appalachian Trail for eighty days. I can comfortably check that box on my bucket list. I will never have to wonder, wish, dream or question an Application Trail thru-hike. I am humbled to have been provided an ample taste for my curiosity.

I also rationalized how I have the freedom and ability to travel in my RV. There are many places along the Trail I would enjoy visiting again when I could time better weather conditions and have the creature comforts of RVing.

I can also follow the Trail north and day hike iconic areas. There are also a lot of little towns I will enjoy spending more time exploring instead of just stopping for a quick resupply and moving north.

There are places, like Max Patch, I intend to revisit when I can relax and spend an afternoon taking in the full ambience without the worry of trekking fifteen more miles. I want to spend an afternoon with the wild ponies in Grayson Highlands, not just a fleeting moment as I pushed north.

A 300 year old oak tree on the Appalachian Trail.

My learnings are many and still being processed. Immersion experiences such as this have subtle changes to people’s perceptions, observations, thoughts, understanding and priorities. I’ll save some of those learnings to share in another post.

I am appreciative of all the encouraging words sent my way via text, email, phone calls and social media. Thank you for the kind words of encouragement and support. I knew you had my back if I needed anything.

Amazing views provided a spectacular backdrop to my 700 mile backpacking trip through the southern Appalachian Mountains.

As for the immediate future – I’m jumping right back into living and traveling in my RV. Family and friends to see. Volunteering is a priority for me. No regrets. New experiences await!


I’m posting videos on TikTok! @RVingRevealed

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