Home » Hiking the Appalachian Trail: A Journey of Adventure and Discovery

Hiking the Appalachian Trail: A Journey of Adventure and Discovery

by Susan O'Connor
Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian Trail stretches some 2,200 miles along the East Coast from Springer Mountain, Georgia, to Mt. Katahdin, Maine. The Trail was first conceived in 1921 and completed in 1936 under the auspices of the Palisades National Park Commission. Since its completion, the Appalachian Trail has attracted numerous hikers seeking adventure along its iconic path, which meanders through a diverse landscape, providing a one-of-a-kind experience for those who undertake the full journey. This renowned trail boasts 250 shelters and campsites scattered along its route, providing essential rest stops for intrepid explorers.

Chase Peeler, Southern Terminus at Spring Mountain, Georgia

Chase Peeler, a resident of Colorado, recalls, “I was inspired to hike the trail after reading Bill Bryson’s book, A Walk in the Woods, during my final year at Colorado University.” This experience ignited his desire to explore unfamiliar parts of the East Coast and led him to adopt a more outdoor-oriented lifestyle thereafter.

Chase explained, “I began in Georgia on February 20, 2011, and I finished in Maine on July 20th, a total of 153 days.” During that trip, he was exposed to the rural mixture of the East Coast and all of its features: small towns, mountainous terrain, interesting fellow hikers, and a sense of major accomplishment.

Snow storm in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

He said that the highlights encompassed much of what he called “The most difficult parts of the Trail.” For example, “The Smokies, the Roan Highlands in North Carolina/Tennessee, Green Mountains in Vermont, the White Mountains in New Hampshire,” where he said they proved to be, “the big mountains, big climbs, and big views.”

His journey had him visiting a town every four or five days on average. “Particular favorites were: Franklin, North Carolina; Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia; and Hanover, New Hampshire.” The Appalachian Trail office is located in Harper’s Ferry where hikers sign a ledger that now includes that of Chase Peeler.

Presidential Range White Mountains, New Hampshire

He mentioned that he was also taken by “small, nondescript towns” where the people were incredibly friendly. “That’s something that has stayed with me even as I’ve started to forget the names of towns.” He added, “I also really enjoyed Maryland because there is so much human history along the trail. You walk through Civil War sites multiple times in only a few days.”

The Appalachian Trail also introduced Chase to a colorful cast of fellow hikers, each adopting a unique nickname that reflected their persona. From Challenger, the NASA employee, to Delaware Dave with his deliberate slow pace, and V8, the ambitious hiker from Japan, whose aim was to complete all three major trails in the U.S. There was even a traveler coined Girl with Four Dogs because she was hiking with four dogs on leashes! Chase said, “You had to see it to believe it.” There was also White Wolf, a retired military man who had given the hike to himself as a retirement gift.

Being an outdoors enthusiast, Chase Peeler has hiked over 6,000 miles on trails in the western United States and plans to explore international trails if the opportunity arises. When he’s not out exploring, he manages an outdoor merchandise store in his home state of Colorado.

By Joe Motheral

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