Befriending the Rocks

Pennslyvania Trail

Pennslyvania Trail

For many, the word “trail” conjures up a picture of a flat, peaceful path, winding aimlessly through a picturesque backdrop of blooming posies. Or it may bring to mind a straight, rutted country road leading to the home of someone’s grandmother. Or then again, the word “trail” may evoke an image of a lengthy dirt lane snaking through the countryside. Whatever the image, the “trail” in our heads is more often than not much different from the Appalachian Trail.

So when you tell someone that you’re going to hike the Appalachian Trail, they often think that you are merely going for a long walk through the woods. Still, most of those who enjoy the outdoors would like to have the opportunity to hike along a scenic trail. What many who have never seen the trail believe, however, is that even though the terrain may prove challenging at times, really, after all, it’s just a trail.

Yes, at times it is just a trail. At others, however, it’s much more. You see, there are a lot of rocks on the Appalachian Trail. And when I say rocks, I don’t mean the kind you pick up to skim across a lake. Sure, there are some like those. But there are also sharp, jagged rocks, and trash can size rocks, and compact car size boulders. Some you have to climb over using your hands; some are knives edges, with drop-offs on either side of sometimes several hundred feet. You can slip on a wet rock and take a tumble or worse. Sometimes a strategic approach, for which rocks to step on in order to advance from point A to point B, is necessary. In fact, one state in particular is so noted for its rocks that it has earned the nickname Rocksylvania.

While some rocks do prove challenging to navigate over or around, some may actually help you with your hike. There are stepping stone rocks over streams. There are also staircase rocks that make certain portions of the trail easier to negotiate. There are even occasionally chair-like rocks, jutting out of a mountain, that appear just when you need a place to rest.

Rocks on the Appalachian Trail may indeed become my enemy; however, as I hike the trail I’m going to try to befriend them. After all, why should we view them as adversaries when we will have to encounter them daily? Would you rather consider the rocks obstacles that hinder your advancement to Maine or as companions that quite often offer you a more direct route? Rocks perhaps at times will complicate my movement, but at others they may afford me one of those views that previously I’ve only seen in pictures. Many a day, a rock has been a place to sit to enjoy a scenic vista and a peaceful interlude. The more we come to accept our daily duels with rocks, the more we will appreciate our walk along the Appalachian Trail.

Categories: 2013 AT Hike Prep. | Leave a comment

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