The Magic of Long Trails

I got to the start of the Appalachian Trail at Springer Mountain as the day started to grow dark. I’ll tell you it was an awe-inspiring experience to be there.

I had just run and hiked the miles from Amicalola Falls on the AT Approach Trail, and neither the destination nor the journey disappointed.

I’m fascinated by the long trails of the world: trails you can get on and just keep going. The Appalachian Trail is one such trail: you can spend months just hiking north from Georgia to Maine, starting from where I was standing on Springer. I could look right there and see the start of a 2,000+ mile hiking path. I could see the log book filled with notes from hikers, many of whom had just finished the southbound trek.

This wasn’t the day for me to start a journey like theirs, but you can believe I was intrigued. With trails like these (unlike my day hikes/runs) , you don’t really have to ever stop, ever re-enter civilization, or even read a map. You can just keep going and going.

There’s something magical about that, and there’s something magical about any long trails and rivers that will take you far away from home, without interruptions from the outside world. These things by their nature as long trails beckon you to leave the world behind. So even a day hike there feels heavy with the possibility of adventure. You’re connected to something that transcends borders and days – who knows what it might bring to you? It’s both predictable – the path is laid out before you – and full of mystery.

The Appalachian Trail, el Camino del Santiago, the Pacific Crest Trail, the Continental Divide Trail, the Mississippi River, the Amazon River, the Nile River – it’s in these long places and journeys that some of the frontier (or at least the frontier of time and imagination) remains.

James Walpole

James Walpole is a writer, startup marketer, and perpetual apprentice. You're reading his blog right now, and he really appreciates it. Don't let it go to his head, though.

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