Jordan on the Appalachian Trail
We’ve asked our Architectural Intern, Jordan Crawford, to share his experience on the Appalachian Trail, which he thru-hiked right before joining our team.
On March 16, 2015 I set out for what would be the most incredible journey of my still very young life: backpacking 2,189 miles from Springer Mountain, Georgia to Mt. Katahdin, Maine along the Appalachian Trail. In the end, the hike would take me roughly 5 million steps and 6 months to complete, but there is no measurement for the experiences and amazing people that I met along the way.
The Appalachian Trail has become fairly popular ever since Bill Bryson’s book (and now movie) A Walk in the Woods was released. Every year around the beginning of spring, 4,000-6,000 people start in Georgia and begin to make their way northbound towards Maine. My experience along the trail would not have been the same without these people that I encountered.
The trail’s growing popularity has garnished a well-established Appalachian Trail community, and it is not just exclusively hikers. The trail passes through a variety of different towns along the Blue Ridge Mountains. These “trail towns” help support the hikers and we in turn support the towns.
It was always nice being close to town because that is where you would encounter the most trail magic. “Trail magic” is when you come across something completely unexpected that absolutely makes your day. Trail magic often came in the form of someone sitting at a trailhead handing out cold drinks and food. A few times we were miles from a town and we found sodas sitting in a shallow creek to keep them cold. The community calls the people who conduct these random acts of kindness “Trail Angels.” They take the time out of their busy schedules to help complete strangers. Without the Trail Angels and towns for support, the success rate for finishing the entire trail would be significantly lower.
Within the larger Appalachian Trail community we also had our thru-hiker subculture. These were the people that I hiked with every day. Connections made between thru-hikers were almost instantaneous. Retirees became friends with fresh-out-of-college people. Living in the woods has a way of bringing people from completely different backgrounds together. You have shared experiences that are so specific to the trail that only the people that you share the experience with will truly understand. As a group we all experience the same rainy day with a grueling climb up a mountain and then are able to come together around a fire at night. The shared experiences that I had amongst my fellow hiker were the best moments on the trail.
The Appalachian Trail community taught me a million tiny lessons. Only having to worry about your next water source, food supply, and place of shelter really allowed you to completely forgo any stresses and enjoy the wonders of life. It almost reverts you back to a child-like state of wonderment and curiosity. It allows you to just trust and love people completely. It was incredibly surprising and refreshing how easily it was to make strong and genuine connections with people. Without the distraction of modern technology, it really allowed for the opportunity to solely focus on the relationships you were building.
Gettliffe Architecture is a Boulder, Colorado architecture firm offering green design services from straw-bale homes to eco lodges around the globe. We believe that beautiful architectural design begins with careful consideration of earth, culture and community. Working with your ideas and vision, our team of green architects brings inspiring spaces to life that are kind to the planet and a pleasure to be in.