Escaping to Appalachia

Nature has always been a place for me to find inspiration. Whether it is paddling a familiar river or hiking a new trail, the moment I’m immersed in the outdoors my mind just seems to open. My thoughts become crisp and clear, and ideas flow uncontrollably. It’s funny how every time I get outdoors I can’t stop thinking about ways to spend more and more time outside. This blog is one of those ways.

I recently traveled south to Atlanta with my girlfriend to visit her family. The idea was to visit in early December so we could cover both Thanksgiving and Christmas in one stop. Shortly after landing in Atlanta, Abby and I went separate ways. She stayed with her sister in Atlanta and visited friends nearby. I was promptly kidnapped by a butcher who goes by the name Joe and a handlebar mustached Texan by the name of Kenny. These wild men were my friends. They were taking me north to Knoxville to visit another long time friend, Josh.  Once an inseparable group of friends who would rarely spend a weekend apart, we all live in different states now. The next four days were filled with beer and mountains.

During a hike to Chimney Tops in the Smokey Mountains, I started picking up every piece of trash I saw near the trail. After only two miles each way, there I was standing with a bag full of trash. Granted, the Smokey Mountains National Park is one of the most visited national parks in the United States; it still blew my mind that so much trash could be picked up during such a short hike.  My mind started whirling. Thoughts and ideas just kept popping up in my head. I want to hike. I want to hike, more. How can I make trails better? How can I pick up more trash? Like I mentioned above, once I’m in the outdoors I just keep thinking of ways to stay in the outdoors. My excuse to start hiking the Appalachian Trail didn’t present itself, yet.

Five days later, I was standing on a granite exposure by the name of Pickens Nose.  As always, I picked what trash I could off of the trail to Pickens. Abby took a great photo of me while standing on the nose, but you can’t see the grocery bag full of trash in the picture. Located just south of Franklin, North Carolina, Pickens Nose is where the idea hit me. Hike the Appalachian Trail and pick up all of the trash I see along the way. Better yet, I could motivate others to pick up trash, too. Within minutes I had convinced myself. I’ve found the reason I was looking for. I’m going to hike the Appalachian Trail and pack out all I can.  Hopefully, if I can make this idea a reality, trash on trails will be out of the picture for everyone.

Pack It Out


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