Mary-Hannah Blazing Trails in Appalachia

Mary- Hannah Daugherty, 20, doesn’t spend her summers by the beach or lounging by a pool. She spends her summer on the Appalachian Trail. Last summer Mary-Hannah spent over 12 days hiking the trail, which equaled to over 167 miles.

When did you decide you wanted to hike the Appalachian trial? Well I have always hiked a lot so when I had a whole free summer and the time to do it that is when I decided to do it.
 
What training did you do to prepare for the trial? Rowing season gets me into shape, and I hike with my mom (and she runs and lifts weights). Staying physically fit is important and the more you hike you build up the fitness.
 
How long did you go? We went for 167 miles. How long did it take you? That took us 12 days.
 
Where did you start? At the Southern most Terminus Point called Dahlonega, Georgia.
 
Who did you go with? My mom and my brother came and hiked some of it with us.
 
How did you get provisions like food and shelter? Every 3 or 4 days there are little towns you can stop in and you can have mail drops, which are like care packages for yourself. You send yourself food or shampoo and sometimes the posts have a place you can buy trail snacks. The rough part is that most of the towns are off the trail so you have to hitch hike, but it’s not weird because people who drive by expect to see people hiking to the towns and they will pick you up. Also about every 12 miles there is a shelter that keeps the rain off. The trail is like a neighborhood.
What was the weather like? We expected it to be hot during the day and our clothes were soaked and they didn’t dry because of all the greenery. At higher elevations in the morning the wind was rough and it was a lot colder. Next time I want to bring a jacket for the mornings.
 
What was the most interesting thing you saw or did? We didn’t see any snakes for like 4 straight days and then in one day we saw 12 big snakes. It was weird because we went so long without seeing them then all of a sudden we see all these snakes. You just never know what you are going to get.
 
On average how many miles did you hike a day? It depends on the terrain. In the Georgia mountains its straight up and down so we would go about 8-12 miles a day then in some parts we could go close to 22. You don’t really have a plan you need to let the trail dictate how far you go.
 
What was the most challenging part? In the beginning when we left we packed way too much stuff and you don’t really need as much as stuff as the packing list tells you. Also your feet swell when you are out there and both mine and my mom’s feet swelled very bad. There is a place about 67 miles in who will go through your stuff and help you change your shoes because you need to have shoes that are 2 sizes too big and most people don’t know that. There a lot of places on the trail that will let you shower and wash your clothes because on the trail you just wash them in the creek or as frequently as you can. After a long day of hiking your feet and your are really sore and it’s hard to keep going but you just have to get to a place that is flat enough to set your camp and that can be a hard if you are on the side of a mountain. Finding water is hard too because there are some parts that are really dry so you need to be smart about your water because being in the mountains there really isn’t a lot of water like you would expect.
 
What made you decide this was something you wanted to do? I love the outdoors and going to school in Knoxville and being busy with rowing I don’t get to be outside like I want too. This is a way for me to clear my head and make decisions about my life. There are no distractions and no technology and it just helps me move forward with what I want to do with my life. I feel like I have a fresh start with life in the woods. I love to exercise and it’s a casual way to workout. The adventure part is cool too because you never know what you are going to expect. When you drive by nature you are going too fast to appreciate it so when you walk and go with nature its really different.
 
Do you plan on doing this again? Yeah, we are going to try and hike over 400 miles this summer. From the beginning of the Smokey Mountains to Damascus, Virginia, the 50 miles past Damascus are supposed to be the prettiest.