By Michelle Shocklee
Are there any hikers in the house?
Hubby and I enjoy the great outdoors, especially the mountains, but hiking -- real hiking -- isn't something we've attempted. We like a nice, fairly easy hike of a couple miles there and back at most. A bottle of water, a snack, and a pair of comfortable shoes is all we need to have a grand time basking in the beauty of God's creation.
But there are those who enjoy a challenge when they go hiking. Hundreds of trails wind through national forests and parks all across the country, taking anyone brave enough to gorgeous waterfalls, rock formations, and mountaintop views that can't be seen unless you're willing to go the distance.
|Panoramic image of the Catawba Valley from the McAfee Knob overlook on the Appalachian Trail. Photo: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Something_Original
One of THE most challenging trails, however, has got to be the Appalachian Trail. Friends of ours own property in East Tennessee that backs up to the trail, so I can say I have officially been ON the trail, but I can also honestly say I have no desire to hike it from one end to the other.
The idea was first proposed in 1921 by Benton MacKaye, a forester who wrote his original plan—called "An Appalachian Trail, A Project in Regional Planning"—shortly after the death of his wife. He shared his idea with several politicians, and an article was even written about it in the Saturday Evening Post. People became interested in the project and money was raised. Things took off from there.
On October 7, 1923, the first section of the trail, from Bear Mountain west through Harriman State Park to Arden, New York, was opened. MacKaye then called for a two-day Appalachian Trail conference to be held in March 1925 in Washington, D.C. This meeting inspired the formation of the Appalachian Trail Conference (now called the Appalachian Trail Conservancy). Arthur Perkins, a retired judge, and his younger associate Myron Avery took up the cause. Built by private citizens, and completed in 1937, today the trail is managed by the National Park Service, US Forest Service, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, numerous state agencies and thousands of volunteers.
Most hikers carry a lightweight tent, tent hammock, or tarp. The trail has more than 250 shelters and campsites available for hikers who prefer more solid accommodations. Public restrooms and showers are very limited throughout the trail.
Thirty years later, the day after his father’s funeral, Walker Wylie is stunned to learn he was adopted as an infant. The famous country singer enlists the help of adoption advocate Reese Chandler in the hopes of learning why he was abandoned by his birth parents. With the only clue he has in hand, Walker and Reese head deep into the Appalachian Mountains to track down Bertie Jenkins, the midwife who holds the secrets to Walker’s past.