My most recent monumental adventure! 2015 Appalachian trail thru hike
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Letter to family and friends after my 2015 Appalachian trail thru hike January 18th 2015 – November 18th 2015 Steven Lange Trail name: Sparrow November 19th 2015
Now that my Thru hike is over I just thought I would write a few notes and send a few pictures. I am writing this note just to illustrate a little of my 2015 Thru hike. Much like a photo of the Grand Canyon gives a limited impression of it. Just saying I hiked the Appalachian Trail along with 1,100 additional miles of connector trails in Florida , Alabama, and Maine does not give a true sense of the magnitude of this thing. 10 months, 3,300 miles… Living most often in my tent. Hiking athletic feats I never thought imaginable. Wind, rain, snow, hail, storms, and insects. Also good times of sunny days, swimming in rivers and lakes, watching sunsets from mountaintops, and cooking over the fire. Times of struggle and times collapsing into rest more deserved than any I needed before. This has been my fourth year of travelling and hiking. I thought this year I would do something big. So I decided to Thru hike the Appalachian Trail. Beginning early in the year, January 18th. I decided to start in Florida as it was a little warmer than the mountain elevations of North Georgia. Also I wanted to make the distance more comparable to the other Continental trails. The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and the Continental Divide Trail (CDT). Starting in Winter the temperatures at night were typically in the 20’s and even dropped to 16 a few times in the Florida Panhandle. Cold! The hike was tough and rewarding. I had done 700 miles of the Appalachian Trail in New England the previous year so I knew I was up to the task physically. Through the end of Winter I crossed Florida and Alabama and then to Georgia to start the Appalachian Trail proper on March 30th 2015. All the way to Catawba Virginia by the end of May. Deciding then to go complete the northern end of the trail where it was cooler in the heat of summer I flew to Hartford Connecticut and hit the trailhead at Cornwall Bridge. Summiting Mt. Katahdin in Maine on August 18th 2015 I then hiked 100 miles of the International Appalachian Trail to the Canadian border ending at Houlton Maine. On September 1st I got back to Hartford Connecticut and started the end of my journey Southward to meet my flip point at Catawba Virginia. I had at this time Giardia which I had contracted in Maine. For 200 miles I continued to hike while losing weight and suffering nausea, diarrhea, and chronic fatigue. After 2 weeks off resting I recovered and finished my last 500 miles. Passing my last white blaze on the morning of November 18th 2015 at the base of The Dragon’s Tooth at Catawba Virginia! 10 months, 3,300 miles! The physical nature of the hike is monumental. Carrying an average 40 lbs. of gear and food while hiking between 15 and 30 miles daily. Climbing mountains and crossing rivers. It was a feat. To give some perspective a marathon is 27 miles. I have hiked many 27 and over mile days. My longest day ever being 33 miles. Sometimes 3, 4, or 5 days in row. All without showering at night and eating horrible food like ramen noodles and rice. The trail is on the crest of the Appalachian Mountain Chain. Up and down mountains everyday. The physical task was not easy. I hiked usually 4 to 5 days consecutively and then would rest 1 to 2 days to let my body heal. Monumental as well is the mental struggle. While hiking the urge to quit is always vexing. Like a haunting spirit the quitter is always chiming in the back of ones mind. So easy to not continue on. What is the point of all this anyway. I am not making any money. This is not a college degree to be used for profit in the future. This is only a purely egotistical pursuit. I am only doing this all so I can say it is something I have done. The struggle in ones own mind is constant and taxing. But now it is done. This is in my life probably the only thing I have ever done for a purely egotistical end. It is probably the only thing I have ever done so vehemently to completion. Listening to no one. Blocking out all discontent within myself and from those around me. Fighting myself and nature. Mountains and weather. Staying always true to the goal. Now that I am done I will retreat for a time from the world. Get back to myself. And be with God for a while. I suppose I thought I would give you all a glimpse of what this life is like. But like the lives of everyone on Earth. We as outsiders see only a small portion of others trials, pains, triumphs, and tragedies. And even then most of what we see is obscured by our own ideas and visions. I just wanted to convey that this was not a romantic struggle. Nor was it easy. It is not a thing for the lazy or indecisive. It is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. And I have had a hard life generally. And I have done many things. It is work. Pure work. A simple type of pure effort. I suppose that is why I Love it so. I feel rewarded for my efforts. Hard to explain but true. I thank God now and always. For without God what am I? Nothing. I keep you all in my thoughts and prayers as I continue on doing the best I can. Always…
Blessings, Steven Lange
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