The Appalachian Trail
Stretching for 2000 miles from Maine to Georgia is the famous Appalachian Trail. For many hikers, this is the ultimate adventure, and if they can’t complete the whole thing at once (a huge commitment) then they will cover it piece by piece.
Atop the Smoky Mountains at the state border between Tennessee and North Carolina, there is a monument and a 1.7 mile section of the Appalachian Trail you can complete.
On this trip I’ve discovered a bit of a liking for hiking. In Peru all those years ago I discovered I didn’t like walking up or downhill. Something rather limiting when travelling in mountainous regions. But I think that laziness has faded, and I don’t mind exerting some effort to climb a mountain or descend a canyon.
Therefore, I wasn’t going to pass up the ability to say I’d hiked part of the Appalachian Trail. I set out from a carpark full of Americans and expected to find the trail heavily trafficked. Well, as my Lonely Planet explains, 90% of visitors don’t venture further than 100 yards from their car. I found this to be true. The first stretch was filled with families, but after a couple of hundred metres, the trail was quiet and just had a few people passing by.
Maybe here it was that I started to flesh out the idea that Americans aren’t particularly adventurous. I hasten to add that I have also met many adventurous Americans in my travels, it just seems people are less likely to take risks and will continue in the well-worn formula of life – school, university, work, get married, raise a family, retire.