Falling in Love With the Mountains….and the Appalachian Trail

On one of our many trips to the mountains.
On one of our many trips to the mountains.

I have my grandmother to thank for a couple of things in my life.

One is my love of cheese dip and cheese quesadillas. And the other is for my love of the mountains and the Appalachian Trail.

After getting out of the Army in November of 1990 I moved to Atlanta where my Mama’  lived. After I moved there we became close and did everything together (at least when I wasn’t working). As stated above she got me hooked on cheese dip and quesadillas. I am still trying to break the addiction  23 years later. She got me hooked on thrift store shopping (which I am not addicted to anymore). And probably the most important thing she got me hooked on was the mountains.

Way back then she had this awesome black 1972 Cougar XR7 convertible and we would drive all over north Georgia wandering the back roads seeing what we could find. The fun thing about that car was that because it was old it was also heavy and had a wide wheel base. We would coast the downhills on the mountains and see how far we could go before having to use the brakes. I think Hwy180 was our favorite. The more curves the better. We would go to little towns and visit and pick out houses that we would want to live in. Macaysville was her favorite town and there were all these cute houses that sat right on the river. And the town even had it’s own Mexican eatery. Oh, how we used to dream.

One day we pulled into one of the pull offs on Hwy 129. It just so happened that it was Woody Gap. We got out to stretch our legs and breathe some fresh air. She walked over to the information board. And I walked over to the trail that caught my eye. I wandered off onto the trail in my Keds tennis shoes and walked for a few minutes into the woods. It was almost like I got transported into another world. A world that just felt right. I walked back to the car and stopped by the info board. I learned that I had just walked on the Appalachian Trail. It didn’t really mean anything to me at the time.

The AT heading north from Woody Gap
The AT heading north from Woody Gap

We made it home and I looked it up on the internet. And it was dial up internet, probably at 14,400 speed. (which for all you young people means slow as molasses). Of course the internet was a whole lot different back then. I did learn that the trail went all the way to Maine and that people actually hiked it all in one year. One of the “foremost” websites for the Appalachian Trail was trailplace.com. There were a few online journals of people that were thru-hiking the trail. After reading them I knew that one day I would hike the entire trail.

Of course this was not my first time in the mountains. Back in high school I went on a backpacking trip with a Christian youth group I was involved with. We drove from Tampa Florida all the way to Asheville , NC for the trip. I remember hating every minute of it. My feet were covered in blisters and they even made me go rock rappelling which was terrifying in itself.

I’ve driven through mountains. Even real big mountains like Mount Rainer.  I’ve even driven up Mountain Washington. Well technically my mom was driving. And I just have to say that that drive was extremely terrifying. I just knew that I was going to die. Next time I will be walking to the top.

But it wasn’t until I that day when I stepped foot onto the Appalachian Trail did I fall in love with the mountains and feel like I was finally home.
And I will forever be grateful to me Mama’ for bringing me to the mountains.

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