In 1985 I hiked the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. I documented the journey in a series of spiral notebooks. It took six months to complete the trail and this memoir is based on my journal entries and the memories they spark.

Table of Contents

Change in Direction

Introduction - Late at night in a trail shelter in the Smoky Mountains a half dozen of my best friends and I were in our sleeping bag... Read Chapter

The Hike Begins


During my first week on the Appalachian Trail I got to know some of my fellow hikers and realized this might be more of a social thing than I realized. I also gained a new respect for the weather.
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Great Smoky Mountains

The next morning at Cold Spring shelter, Pete Van Why announced it was eighteen degrees at 7:00 a.m. and a light dusting of snow had fall... Read Chapter

Hot Springs with Heday

On April 17th we all gathered at Cosby Knob shelter. Everyone was present except Don the Udder Farm Boy who was missing in action. I was ... Read Chapter

Erwin, Tennessee

Monday morning I sat on the top row of steps of the Rich Mountain tower and prepared my breakfast while taking in the view of Bluff Mount... Read Chapter

The Tingles Sign Company

On April 27, I found myself twelve miles from the nearest shelter and caught in a downpour, yet I remained dry enough to write in my jour... Read Chapter

Roan Mountain to Damascus

On the morning of April 29, I lingered at the Clyde Smith shelter waiting for the camp fire to go out while a cranky old crow yelled at m... Read Chapter

Hiking with Big Dog

On May 7, I had lunch along highway 58 with Deano, Todd, and Dan the Glamour Boy, who also goes by the Spice Kid. A section hiker named M... Read Chapter

A Tree Falls on a Quiet Day

It was around noon on May 11 and I was having a problem getting motivated. I finished my third meal at the Village Restaurant and stood b... Read Chapter

Hiking with George

On the morning of May 13, I woke up with a mouth that felt like leather. I was dehydrated and there was no water anywhere near the shelte... Read Chapter

Pearisburg

It began raining in the middle of the night at the Wapiti 1 shelter and we were awakened by the unpleasant sound of a leaking roof. It wa... Read Chapter

The Birth of Woa

Entering and exiting trail towns were big events. The trail towns were like milestones, marking the end of one section and the beginning ... Read Chapter

Consulting the Rabbit

I was slow rising the morning of May 22 at Big Pond shelter. I really pushed myself the previous day. By the time I started stirring, Cla... Read Chapter

Cloverdale

As I got closer to the store, I saw the sign read Catawba Groceries. I removed my backpack and leaned it next to the front entrance.... Read Chapter

In Search of Jellystone

I left my clothes baking in the hot sun in the Winn Dixie parking lot until they were mostly dry. I got organized and put my pack on and ... Read Chapter

The Cornelius Mice Assault

I left Jellystone Park with clean dry clothes and had no problem finding the trail. I didn’t walk five miles in a circle as I had the d... Read Chapter

Birthdays, The Flip Floppers, and The Blue Ridge Parkway

Another north bounder caught and passed me. I first met Bill, aka Mad Max at the John’s Hollow shelter. I was taking a two-hour break f... Read Chapter

Waynesboro

I specifically chose that picnic pull-over along the Blue Ridge Parkway to camp because there was no view. Who would stop there in the da... Read Chapter

The Cookie Lady


June Curry was a beloved figure among long distance bicyclists. When the Trans American Bicycle Route was created in 1976 and ran beside her home, she turned her home into a hostel for those
travelers where they could rest and take whatever food they needed to keep going. She was featured on Charles Keralt's, On the Road series. I'm so fortunate I had the opportunity to meet her in
1985.
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Shenandoah with TNT

I was told how nice the trail was through Shenandoah National Park, but I did not have a very good first impression. On my first day in t... Read Chapter

Linden to Harpers Ferry

I first met Tino Georgiadis about a half mile north of Elkwallow. He was standing on the trail talking to an older man with long grey str... Read Chapter

Misadventure in Maryland

Of the folks I met along the way during my thru hike of the Appalachian Trail, 99% were great people, always eager to assist. Among the 1... Read Chapter

The Devil's Racecourse

It had only been a few days since Kris, Chris, Tino, and I heard the single car crash at night on a distant mountain. This time the crash... Read Chapter

Cumberland Valley Road Walk

In my June 24 journal entry I referred to myself as being in the “dead zone.” This was the group of thru hikers who had either s... Read Chapter

The Doyle Hotel

All of the venting and complaining I did in my journal seemed to clear my head and I had a brilliant idea. What if I switched my sleeping... Read Chapter

The Grateful Dead at Hershey Park

I caught a ride so fast on highway 11 that my hair wasn’t even dry from my shower at the Doyle Hotel. An older model four door sedan pu... Read Chapter

Port Clinton and Hamburg

My ride let me out at exit 30 off I-81. I knew the trail intersected here but it took me a while to find it. I spotted a small signpost w... Read Chapter

Gambrinus

On July 3, I struggled on the Pennsylvania rocks. On previous days there had been long smooth stretches of trail with only short intermed... Read Chapter

A Night in the Palmerton Jailhouse

The morning of July 6th, Michael and I got an early start and hiked four miles to the blue blaze trail leading to the spring. We hid our ... Read Chapter

Delaware Water Gap

The final seven miles out of Pennsylvania was pleasant hiking. The rocks began to thin out and the final two miles was a smooth level tra... Read Chapter

High Point and Unionville

Ben and I hiked together all day on July 11. We made it our goal to see the sunset at High Point. We hiked at a steady pace stopping for ... Read Chapter

Roger's Appalachia Cottage

I sat on the side of Oil City Road and slapped at a deer fly that bit me on my arm. I got it and it fell to the ground. I reviewed this s... Read Chapter

West Mountain

I leafed through The New York Times at Roger’s little oasis on top of the ridge. There was a big write-up on the concert Ben attended. ... Read Chapter

Bear Mountain and Graymoor Monastery

I was up at first light at West Mountain shelter and walked along the hillside and was in awe that the haze lifted and I could see the Ne... Read Chapter

New York City

I had a good day hiking from Graymoor Monastery to Ralph’s Peak Hikers Cabin in spite of a five-mile road walk, some confusing trail in... Read Chapter

Connecticut

I decided to hang out at Edward R. Murrow Park in Pawling another day. Bob bought me a copy of the Sunday New York Times at breakfast so ... Read Chapter

Injury in Connecticut

I hiked 20 miles on July 25th and with the exception of Barrack Mountain it was a fairly easy section. Barrack Mountain was a very steep ... Read Chapter

The Slow Parade

I was up and out of the Pine Tree Inn Pavilion early the next morning. I resumed the road walk in a thick morning fog. The climb up East ... Read Chapter

The Watermelon Mission


If taking a shortcut here and there along the way was considered a sin among the purists, would hiking the same section twice provide penance?
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The Return of Woa

The beacon from the Mt. Greylock War Memorial was so bright I ended up wrapping a t-shirt over my eyes in order to sleep. The next day on... Read Chapter

I Love Vermont

I hitched into Manchester with Frank (The Merry Slav) who loaned me $15 for groceries. I suppose I’d been goofing off a bit to be this ... Read Chapter

Hanover, New Hampshire

Staying at Mountain Meadows Lodge was a good decision. It was the most relaxation I’d experienced on the entire trip. Double occup... Read Chapter

Three Nights at Dartmouth College

After having my picture made on the Dartmouth campus green, I found a bench and watched the students as they walked by. It appeared they ... Read Chapter

Pancakes Served by a Governor

After three fun packed days on the campus of Dartmouth College, August 15th marked the day that party time was over as we headed north on... Read Chapter

Welcome to the Whites

It was a solid day’s hike from the governor’s maple syrup farm and restaurant to the Jeffers Brook Shelter at the base of Mt. Moosila... Read Chapter

Kinsman and Lafayette

It was only 15 miles to Franconia Notch but North and South Kinsman were ahead, making it a two-day hike. I was down to one sandwich and ... Read Chapter

Mizpah Spring Hut

Up to this point Frank and I had managed to hike four days into the White Mountains without spending a dime for camping. We stayed two ni... Read Chapter

Lake of the Clouds

On the morning of August 25th, I awoke in the overflow section of Mizpah to the sound of steady raindrops. I lingered in my tent in hopes... Read Chapter

Mt. Washington

On the morning of the 26th I awoke as one of the elites to the smell of bacon frying in Lake of the Clouds hut. Wake up call was 6:30 and... Read Chapter

Pinkham Notch

I made it to twenty-six years of age without ever having acquired a taste for butter. I’m sure I ate some in my food, but I never added... Read Chapter

Return to Mt. Washington


Reminiscent of my decision to return to Mt. Greylock during the "Watermelon Mission," I made a spontaneous decision to return to Mt. Washington and hike the Northern Presidentials, which I had
skipped due to bad weather.
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Berkshire Manor

I slept well in my campsite at The Perch. I was the only hiker there that night. I figured this was probably where Frank had set up his t... Read Chapter

Welcome to Maine

The silence of the night gave way to the sound of water drops hitting my tent. By morning it was raining steadily and I sat in my tent ho... Read Chapter

Mahoosuc Notch

The Mahoosuc Range is an extension of the northern White Mountains and straddles the Maine/New Hampshire border. It has a number of impre... Read Chapter

Hall Mountain Lean-To

On the morning of September 5th, I looked up at the skies outside Frye Notch lean-to and smiled into the blue skies. It was going to be a... Read Chapter

Elephant Mountain Lean-To

From Hall Mountain lean-to, the trail descended sharply into Sawyer Notch. Throughout this descent, the trail followed a cascading water ... Read Chapter

Hiking with Wingfoot

The highlight of September 7th was the Bemis Mountain Range which had several peaks above tree line. The weather was perfect and there we... Read Chapter

Return of the Flip Floppers

On the morning of September 11th, Wingfoot announced it was 35 degrees in the Spaulding Mountain lean-to. I reluctantly crawled out of my... Read Chapter

Fording the Kennebec

It was another cold morning waking up in the Myron H. Avery lean-to, 35 degrees to be exact, according to Yoda’s thermometer. I was fee... Read Chapter

Caratunk to Monson

An older man opened the general store right at noon as the sign indicated he would. I asked whether the post office section of the store ... Read Chapter

The 100 Mile Wilderness Section

Departing Monson, I was teamed up with Wingfoot, Dan, and John. The white blazes took us along a road walk out of town and turned onto a ... Read Chapter

Mt. Katahdin

I hiked most of the day alone on September 24th. Wingfoot, Dan, and John were slightly ahead of me whereas Redman, Katy, Jenny, and Steve... Read Chapter

Transition to Post-Trail Life

My parents had a room at the Heritage Inn and reserved a room for me down a long hallway on the other side of the motel. Wingfoot got a r... Read Chapter

Recent Comments

Eraser

Cool story. I read another story on Booksie about a guy who decided to hike the Appalachian trail. You might want to search for it as you seem kindred spirits.

Mon, January 10th, 2022 10:07pm

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