Although I have been camping, trail walking, wandering in the woods all of my life, it wasn’t until January 2012 that I was “bitten” by the hiking bug. I met an Appalachian Trail thru-hiker from REI. For those who do not know, a thru-hiker is someone who hikes either north or south, but usually north, straight through from Georgia to Maine all in one continuous and sensational hike! Sensational could be good or bad and is self defined by each hiker! Anyway, REI offers one day 6 mile hikes for beginners. My guide for the day was the previously mentioned, thru-hiker.
It was actually a cold day and the ground was covered in snow. Anyone in the northeast knows that we had very little snow in January 2012 so this day was unusual. It was also calling for more snow or rain so only two other “students” went that day.
Our group of four drove about an hour or two to the French Creek State Park in Eastern Pennsylvania. There was much more snow in that slightly more mountainous area (southern NJ is very flat). REI supplied the gear, backpacks to try on for size, trekking poles, gaiters and even a snack for lunch. We spent the day hiking a loop around a large lake stopping at the halfway point to clear a picnic table of snow and make some hot chocolate. It was great. We talked about the gear, where and how to set up a tent and more about the thru-hike.
When I got home and for the next several weeks, I was obsessed with visiting every website I could find on the subject. And I read…a lot. I began to purchase equipment, always on sale or at a discount when possible and to get ready for my adventures. I was hooked!
The funniest part is that my wife says that I have all of the equipment and know all the lingo but have never really been out yet. I say things like thru-hiking the AT and she laughs. I guess she is right. But it’s been fun so far! Seeing the delivery truck pull up with a box of goodies is like watching Santa pull up in his sleigh! Is it just me or does anyone else think this is like being a kid again?