Stories from the Trail

Kerry “Scribbles” Smithwick: Why I Hike

My first contact with the Appalachian Trail was at age 11 on a hike with my family at Clingmans Dome. I saw the white blaze and asked my dad what it was for. He knew it was marking the A.T. and that the Trail went a long way. No internet for the masses in the 60s’ so I could not find out much more. In high school, I had friends who became very interested (in the Trail) after Bill Bryson’s book was published and, living close to Amicalola Falls, we went there regularly. I would venture to say I have hiked what is now the Approach Trail over 20 times. My interest in the A.T. became a goal to complete a thru-hike. It wasn’t until I retired that I was able to fulfill the dream. I hike because the A.T. is there for us. Everyone is welcome whether it is for a quick one-hour hike or a six-month trek. The beauty and serenity of the forest speak to me, and I find comfort and peace and a closeness to God that is hard to explain. I’ve walked down the path singing, crying, dancing, and oblivious at times. The act of walking is so natural for our bodies that the mind is freed by the motion and creativity comes alive. I hike to feel that energy and freedom. I hike because I like to meet similarly minded people. I never encounter anyone that I do not say hi to. Although I prefer to solo hike, I have done many sections and other trails with other people. Mainly I hike because I can. I am headed out tomorrow to complete a southbound hike and am very excited to touch the Katahdin summit sign one more time.