Keep the adventure goingRead Now
We are so pleased to have Adventures in Good Company join us a sponsor this year. Here's what this travel company is all about: "We create experiences of a lifetime for women seeking new adventures. Our small group getaways encourage women of all ages and life stages to (re)connect with their adventurous selves, other women and cultures and the natural world. Our vacations are for women who love being active, regardless of whether you're a first-time traveler or a lifelong adventuress."
Here's a guest blog from two thru-hikers-turned-guides: Julie Fast, AGC Adventure Specialist & Guide, and Mary Leavines, ACG Marketing Assistant.
Life After Your Thru Hike
The Summit is Just the Beginning
Imagine (or remember) the day you summit Katahdin. It’s a rainy fall day, but nothing can dampen your spirits; you’re about to climb the final mountain after a long, arduous journey over the spine of the Appalachian mountain range. Each step feels surreal as you contemplate the millions of steps that led you to this day.
You look down to survey your body and gear as you grasp the rebar sticking out of the behemoth granite boulders in Baxter State Park. After traversing the Whites of New Hampshire, these boulder scrambles aren’t as intimidating as they could be, and you feel like you’re floating more than hiking as you draw closer to the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail.
Though your feet are tired, your clothes are permanently pungent and your bones feel hollow, you’ve got extra special snacks in your pack and nothing can stand in your way—not even this group of teenagers in denim with no water crawling at a snail’s pace in front of you. “Excuse me friends, mind if I pass?” The youth gawk at your wild beard and/or luscious leg hair, your bulging calves and your determined stride; they scramble out of your way and you continue onward, upward.
Completing the Adventure of a Lifetime
Just a few more miles and you can see the end. How many people started at Springer this year but didn’t get to see this side? You’re one of the lucky few who will complete the thru hike you began all those months ago. Pride swells your chest as you stroll toward the iconic wooden sign. Around you, a gaggle of thru-hikers you’ve hiked with, more family than friends at this point, cheer wildly as you reach forward and touch the sign. The worn wood is rough beneath your fingers, then your palm, then your forehead as you bend down and rest your face against the sign you’ve been walking towards all spring and summer.
Above you the clouds smile and part, just a little bit; just enough for the golden photo opportunity you’ve been dreaming about. Does any summit pose do justice to the adventure you’ve just completed? Will any picture tell the full story of that time you found your stomach’s absolute limit at the all you can eat southern buffet? Or the time a trail angel’s unbelievable generosity reduced you to tears and made you believe in the goodness of humanity again? You climb on top of the sign and strike a pose anyway, though you know there’s no smile wide enough to truly portray the rush of emotion you’re feeling in that moment.
What Comes After a Thru-Hike?
While no photo can capture all that you have been through and accomplished, your journey doesn’t have to end at Katahdin (or Springer). Yes, you do, unfortunately, have to walk back down to get to the parking lot and the rest of your life. For many thru-hikers, this is one of the most difficult parts of the trail: returning to your old life, after yours has so completely changed.
I have great news for you: There is a place where you can put your trail experience and expertise to good use, and get PAID for it!
Become a Guide for Adventures in Good Company
If you’ve never considered guiding professionally, consider this: there are scores of people that want to hear your stories, whose eyes don’t gloss over when you talk about zero days, cuben fiber or tramilies. These people are learning about the Appalachian Trail, and they are learning to love the trail with your help. These aspiring hikers may not be able to muster the time and energy to complete a one-fell-swoop thru hike, but they are keen on "slackpacking" sections of the AT and meeting interesting trail personalities—like you!
After the excitement of finishing a long awaited thru hike, you may experience an emotional rollercoaster as you contemplate re-entering the real world and what’s next. Let us ease your transition back into polite society with several slackpacking trips a year.
Adventures in Good Company specializes in women-specific small group hiking trips and we would like to personally invite you to apply to join our team of talented guides on the AT next year. You know what it’s like to successfully plan a trip, respond to changing weather conditions and endure the trail: you’ve got grit!
You’ve got what it takes to persist, despite the blisters, mosquitoes or norovirus attempting to sideline your journey. Now consider taking your hard-earned skills and continuing the adventure as a professional outdoor hiking guide.
Visit our website for more information and wherever your boots next take you, we wish you happy trails!
On the other hand, if you’re not interested in guiding, a small group adventure trip is an incredible way to share a slice of your epic thru hike with a loved one. Invite your mom, sister, cousin or friend and slackpack the entire state of Georgia, or the 100 mile wilderness in Maine! We’d love to have you join us, and continue sharing the magic of the AT.
Welcome, Bluemont!Read Now
Here's a guest blog from friend of the fest, the Village of Bluemont. We're happy to announce that Bluemont has just been designated an A.T. Community by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and has signed on as a sponsor of this festival.
Bluemont’s beautiful outdoors provides hiking along the Bears Den and Raven Rocks sections of the A.T., as well as camping at Bears Den and ample bird watching. As an A.T. Community, we plan to offer organized hikes (in conjunction with the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club) of “The Roller Coaster” section of the Trail.
And Bluemont offers more than hiking for outdoor enthusiasts. Cycling by both professional and amateur cyclists is popular on Blueridge Mountain Road (which runs past Bears Den), as well as on the historic turnpike that runs through our village. The Bluemont Community Center provides an outdoor playground area for children with a newly established nature area. The Shenandoah River is located just four miles west of Bluemont with opportunities for kayaking and tubing. Equestrian activities can be found at Red Gate Farm Equestrian Center in Bluemont.
Unique to our village is Boulder Crest Wounded Warrior Retreat, a non-profit committed to serving our nation’s combat veterans, first responders and their families struggling from the aftermath of trauma. The 37-acre retreat offers guests horseback riding, hiking, fishing, archery, labyrinth walks, music and art—as well as a variety of in-depth therapy programs. Boulder Crest holds annual events in Bluemont including the Healing Heroes Ride, Ruck-A-Thon and a family Easter Egg Hunt. Partnering with Boulder Crest as an A.T. Community opens a multitude of doors in reaching veterans with the healing powers of the A.T. Bluemont is working with Boulder Crest to organize special hikes for Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Veterans Day.
Ongoing events in Bluemont include the annual Bluemont Fair, held the third weekend in September. The Bluemont Fair is a true country fair, drawing over 10,000 visitors and hundreds of local volunteers. This year we will celebrate our 53rd fair. Our annual Bluemont Shamrock 5K/10K is held every March. And, this June, we are partnering with our fellow A.T. Communities of Round Hill and Hillsboro for Western Loudoun's annual A.T. Festival.
Round Hill AT: Join us in bringing together local friends and family to get outside. Let’s discover our amazing backyards — from national treasures like the Appalachian Trail to new local and regional parks.