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Epic Adventure: Hiking the Appalachian Trail

June 11, 2017

The Appalachian Trail (aka the AT), is a 2,200 mile long hiking trail in the Eastern US from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine. It's also known as the longest hiking trail in the world!

Justin Cave, a friend of the Tribe, set out earlier this year to hike the full trail, what an EPIC ADVENTURE!

He's over 700 miles deep right now, and has been journaling his adventure on his blog, Sonder Upon, but here's a glimpse into Justin's story, spoken from the trail:

You're hiking the Appalachian trail right now, that's awesome! What made you want to embark on this epic adventure?

(Justin) I've always wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail since I was small kid growing up around other hikers and hearing their stories. My Mom and cousin have both hiked the trail and so it also runs in the family you could say.

I graduated college a few years ago, left for Alaska for a year, came back to the Southeast US and now I am trying to transition to something new. This is an excellent opportunity to pursue my dream of hiking the trail, so why not?!

Where are you from and what are you into?

I grew up around south central Kentucky just an hour south of Louisville in a small rural town of Glendale. All we have there is a couple small restaurants and a lot of antique malls, but it is home.

I'm kind of nerd by nature. Or maybe a nature nerd. I studied geology in school so I enjoy observing the natural world in anyway possible---by foot, bike, sail, what have you. But I really enjoy backpacking because I believe it is the best pace to see a place.

Tell us about the hike, what's the coolest thing that's happened so far?

The hike has been one epic journey thus far and I'm only about 700 miles into it. Every day is a new day filled with new surprises.

One cool story that happened to me and my hiking friend Speakup (oh yeah we have trail names out here and don't use our real names. My trailname is Whippersnapper) couple days ago was just outside of Hampton, TN. We were hiking up to the top of this mountain called Pond Flats toward the end of the day in the middle of nowhere really and when we got to the top there was a cold unopened Blue Moon Belgium White Beer stuck between a couple of rocks cooling off in the only spring ontop of the mountain.

It was a stroke of luck, but we happily both shared the beer together smiling for days thereafter. Thanks to the trail angel for putting that drink there you are awesome!

That's amazing that you're able to take extended time for a connect with nature on a deeper level, how long is the journey and how did you plan for it?

So the Appalachian Trail runs from northern Georgia at Amicalola State Park and stretches through several states ending at Mount Katahdin, Maine roughly 2190 miles north. It usually takes people on the average 6 months to complete but I'm shooting for 5 because I started later in the season on April 22. Katahdin closes down around October 15 so I'm hoping to get there before it gets super cold and the mountain is not passable.

I did a few stair masters in the gym and got out to do a few practice hikes in preparation for the start but honestly the first few weeks really get you into the right mindset physically and mentally. I think now I've finally got my "hiking legs".

Have you done any other long hikes or backpacking trips before?

I've done several overnighters and a a couple week long adventures in my lifetime but nothing on this magnitude. I've hiked in Alaska, New Mexico, California, and even last December I got to trek part of the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal which has been my favorite all time hike in my life. The Himalayans are absolutely stunning and the people are even more beautiful. I would love to go back!

Your website is called Sonder Upon. Why Sonder?

I chose the title Sonder Upon for my website because I've realized over the years as I'm traveling that it's not really the place that makes the place but the people in the place that makes the place... if that makes any sense.

Sonder by definition is the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own and that sometimes you need to take the time to just openly listen to their story before making any wrong assumptions or judgements.

Truly listening to people and who they are as a person is important for healthy communities and society at large. Sometimes in life we get too busy and bogged down with "other" stuff when what really matters is the relationships that we forge.

Wise Words Justin Thanks for Sharing Your Story!

If you want to hear more from Justin or follow his journey, check out his website Sonder Upon.

Author: Joe

Joe's into outdoor adventures, hiking, living in random countries, and having fun. He's on a mission to make a positive impact on the world and live in harmony with the Earth.

Favorite nature spot: "Any forest, probably Big Sur in California"