The Fastest Among Us

part I

Some time ago, I happened upon an article that announced the fastest time for running the Appalachian Trail, ever.  This means that a guy — Karel Sabbe — ran from one end of the Appalachian Trail — Springer Mountain, Georgia — to the other end — Mount Katahdin in Maine — a distance of 2190 miles.  He did this in a bit over 41 days which is an average pace of just under 53 miles a day.

Well, this all got me to thinking.

Given my background and experience on the hiking trail, what the hey!  This is such an inappropriate use of the Appalachian Trail.  The A T is a foot trail, designed for hiking.  Over time its length varies but the currently accepted end-to-end is 2180+ miles, or 2190 miles, or 2,189.2 miles, changing due to regular pathway relocations.

It is a foot trail, a hiking trail.  Much of the environment of the Appalachian Trail holds some of the most beautiful forested places on Earth, especially when making multi-night trips, hiking and camping along the way.  Get out there and enjoy what it is and breathe it in.  Observe the locals, the critters who live there:  the elk, the wolves, the moose and the bear, deer, fox and raccoon.  The soaring hawks, the melodious songbirds.  Even the mosquitoes.  Mosquitoes?  Okay, too much.

Pay attention to the spruce and fir, the maple, beech, oak, ash, what’s left of it, walnut, sycamore, chestnut, tulip and hemlock.  More than its share of dogwood, rhododendron, laurel, fern and moss, jewel weed and mushroom.

Why this list of Trail-dwelling flora?  Because these, and a million more reasons, are why we hike the Appalachian Trail.  When you are blistering up the trail as fast as you can go, you don’t have the time to savor the environment that spawned this dreamworld, this real-life fairyland.

[please go to Who’s Faster Among Us part II

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