Contributor Lauren Groh has been through-hiking the Appalachian Trail this spring and summer. On her most recent check-in from the trail, she was surprised to report she and her wife had hit the 70-day & 700 mile mark. “I just can’t believe we’ve been doing this for 70 days!” says Groh. “It’s flown by.”
Not surprisingly, Groh says she feels stronger after so many days on the trail. “I was realizing the other day, as we’re climbing up this mountain that my legs were doing most of the work and my poles were more for stability than for moving me up the mountain.”
While she has climbed many mountains along her journey, Groh says the Smokey Mountains were different. “They were unreal, so different from anything else on the trail. Beautiful but almost like you were in a different world, like fairyland. The thing is, it’s not like you want to stay there for long. It’s beautiful but you want to get through it.”
But Groh says the time and toil are completely worth it. “I’m just lying there and I can see dozens of fireflies lighting up in the distance outside of the tent. I just laid there and thought, ‘Wow, I’m so lucky to be here. I can’t believe I’m looking at this right now.’”
Lauren Groh lives in the Milwaukee area, where she graduated from UWM with a degree in journalism. She writes a camp and travel blog in her free time. You can follow Groh's Appalachian Trail journey on her blog, YouTube channel, Instagram, facebook, and crowdrise campaign.