Hiking on the Appalachian Trail
by Ben Johnson

At my school, two of our teachers take us on hikes each year on the AT (Appalachian Trail). We take either internal or external frame hiking packs, group food (which includes bagels, jelly, peanut butter, trail mix, spaghetti noodles, oatmeal, etc.) and we each take whatever we can fit in our packs. We are required to bring a sleeping bag that preferably cokes with a stuff sack and a foam sleeping pad so our bag doesn't get wet if it rains.

We don't sleep in tents, we carry plastic sheets called tarps. These tarps have a certain way to be set up. First, you find two sturdy trees a good length away from each other. This is your tar site. Then you take your tarp cord and tie a Trucker's Hitch around one tree and make sure you tie these two knots tight enough so that you can "play a song on the string." Then you take one of your tarps and drape it over the cord. Then you take the other tarp and spread it our underneath the top tarp. To hold the top tarp down, you need to go to each of the four corners of the sheet and make a "chicken head." This means that you need to get a handful of leaves and dirt and shove it in the corner of the tarp. Then you make a steak and tie it to the chicken head using the Trucker's Hitch knot that you used before on your longer piece of tarp cord. This is how we camp out on the AT.

Even before we leave for the AT the students plan all the aspects of the hike itself. We decide where we'll be hiking, how long the hike will be, how far we'll hike each day, where we're camping, what we're eating, etc. This hike we started our at Williams Gap in North Carolina and ended up at Dicks Creek Gap in north Georgia. It was a five-day long hike and it contained some pretty tough terrain. The first day we hiked 6 miles, the next day was 10, then 8, then 8 again the fourth day, and finally the last day we hiked 4 miles. We went from Wednesday April 7 to Sunday April 11 and got picked up at 2:00 Sunday. The second day of the hike was probably the worst of the trip. No... definitely the worst of the trip! It rained the entire day, and the day was 10 miles, so we all got pretty soaked. But, after that, every other day was perfectly fine. There was a lot of rocky climbing we had to endure, both downhill and uphill, so that was really difficult, and we went at t pretty slow pace.

The food wasn't all that great and we had the exact same lunch every day: bagels with peanut butter, jelly, Triscuits, and cheese. The worst part about the eating was having to clean out my bowl. For this we had to use leaves, which, with jelly and peanut butter especially, bade and even bigger mess, so I ate with a pretty disgusting bowl. Although it was some bad weather and hard terrain and bad food, I had a good time overall and I definitely recommend this kind of trip for anyone who considers themselves and "outdoorsman."

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