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I Have Hiked the Appalachian Trail

 By Trail Marshall

I've hiked in a hurricane, I've watched tornadoes dance in the distance, and I've seen a bolt of lightning split a double rainbow bordering three crosses. I've seen sunsets grow. I've seen bears run in fear of the sound of my name. I've seen deer stop playing deer games as I walk by. I've seen a porcupine crawl up a tree inches from my face. I've been attacked by shelter mice. I've been stalked by coyotes. Wild hogs ask my permission before coming into camp. I've been harassed by angry beavers that need therapy. I spend the night listening to their slapping tails and uncalled-for insults. I've been beaten up by many mountains but I have beaten many more. I never stopped, I never quit, but my body and mind have had intense negotiations. I've been told that I can't do it. I knew myself it was impossible. I've learned that impossible is only a suggestion. I walked through a dead forest in a windstorm. Duck! I've seen three ducks beating up a goose. I had a $16 cheesesteak at Sarge's in Rangely, Maine.

Sarge's $16 Cheese steakPeople gave me pot. I found Trail Magic when I needed it most. I've run out of water. I've carried too much food. I've stunk so much that the smell went away. I ate tuna until tuna won't ever be eaten again. I've almost died many times. One time I did. I got better. A bear asked me if I wanted to come into its den for supper. I politely declined. People gave me tea spiked with mushrooms. I've met God in the White Mountains. I've crawled over and under Mahoosuc Notch and up its Arm. I drank from the Fountain of Youth in Maine. I postholed through waist deep snow for days. I once forgot to make camp. I've been crushed after two miles and invigorated after 25. I've almost stepped on a rattlesnake. I was told to step on Spotted Lanternflies, but I only kill ticks and mosquitoes. I've slept with my food. I've dug a cathole the night before. It's good to be prepared. I've been given an ice cream sandwich. I've been fed by Fresh Ground twice total but ten times per sitting. I've stopped where I was and camped because it was too beautiful to walk away. I've hiked at night. I've gotten lost. I've gotten found. Once I found myself while being lost.

“I've stopped where I was and camped because it was too beautiful to walk away. I've hiked at night. I've gotten lost. I've gotten found. Once I found myself while being lost.”

I eat large pizzas as an appetizer. I do the half gallon challenge every time I walk into a town. I've been picked up by strangers. A cop gave me a beer. I've seen people smile. I've been attacked by a red tailed goshawk. We're good friends now. I tipped the ferry boat paddler. He gave me a blessing. I've had the best breakfast in Maine at a hunting cabin. I've seen into my soul. I've had inside jokes with strangers. I've started a campfire. I've walked through a forest fire. I've seen the stars talk to me and a full moon light the way. I've been wet for weeks. I've been so cold that I was warm. Hypothermia kills. Be prepared. I've had ice in my beard. I've had frostbite on my fingers. I never hurt my nose. I've fallen in a stream. I've tripped over trees. I've eaten bugs. I found berries. I've seen steam on bear scat. I've seen a moose in Maine and talked to elk in Cherokee. I got a Trail Magic Beer at The Station at 19e. I've been rescued from my own bad decisions. I've saved a life. I've met countless amazing people. I've taken pictures of things that only I can see. I took a hero shot at McAfee Knob. I cried in the woods. I laughed in the woods. I laughed so hard that I cried in the woods. I found rocks that I carried for hundreds of miles. I've rehomed tiny rocks because they were too much weight to carry. I've fixed broken gear with duct tape and prayers. I found great things in Hiker Boxes. I vortexed in Damascus for no reason. I took my boots off at Boots Off Hostel. I found Love. I've heard birds chirping my coordinates to each other and I've heard the crickets stop.

Climbing Old Speck on all fours in a storm

I've watched the leaves fall and the green grass grow. I walked through cow pastures. I fell in love with a lone tree on top of a hill. A spider pooped on my face. I played a game of tag with the ponies of Grayson Highlands. Locust sing my name if you listen closely. I learned to keep a pee bottle in my tent. I've rolled my ankle on the rocks of Pennsylvania. I've rolled my other ankle on the rocks of Pennsylvania. I've rolled both ankles at once on the rocks of Pennsylvania. I have formed a personal relationship with Franconia Ridge. I followed the sunset off of Mt. Washington and through the Presidentials. I've walked on a beaver dam. I swam in swimming holes. I jumped for joy. I've dreamed and reached further. I slid on my backside. I've crawled to the top. I started at the bottom. I've improved.

“I've dreamed and reached further. I slid on my backside. I've crawled to the top. I started at the bottom. I've improved.”

I've pulled a muscle. I've broken my foot. I've gotten teeth knocked out. I gave myself a black eye with my trekking pole. A chipmunk screamed "stop beating yourself up" and then sang Christmas carols. I made a truce with a snapping turtle. Is that a leech? I've been hit with a surprise attack from army ants in the rain. A section hiker tried to talk politics to me. A day hiker cried when they smelled me. I've picked up other people's trash. Leave No Trace. I've been told about fear but haven't felt it on trail. I've climbed for an entire day. The descent of Mt. Madison will haunt me forever though I can't wait to do it again. I can feel when it will rain within 30 seconds. It's weird but true. I learned that weather reports can be written by liars. I've cut weight that I needed. I added weight that I don't. I carried a journal for 2,200 miles and never wrote a word in it. I am not recognizing the ATC this year. I took a picture in front of Trail Angel Mary's cooler. I ate the sun on Saddleback Mountain. I stared at Katahdin from a distance.

I gave my food to a stranger. I found a lost dog. I used a leaf to guide water into my bottle. I've pulled a tick off of me in New Hampshire. I ate at every deli in New York. I've eaten two McRicky's. I've washed my clothes in the shower. I've traded my Darn Tough socks for new ones. I dried out my clothes in the sun. I've taken a rest on top of a mountain only to descend the wrong way back down. I've argued with bees. A centipede or two may have gotten stepped on. I've been in a hailstorm and hit back with my face. I found an umbrella. I've slept in a bathroom in Kent, CT. I've listened to people snore in unison with each other. I woke up to squirrels knocking on my tent. Can Trail Marshall come out and play? I've eaten a Ramen Bomb. I've cowboy camped. I've lost a sock liner. I've skipped and frolicked in the fields. I've danced to nature's tune. I've spun myself in circles while staring at the clouds. I found a new world.

“I've cowboy camped. I've lost a sock liner. I've skipped and frolicked in the fields. I've danced to nature's tune. I've spun myself in circles while staring at the clouds. I found a new world.”

I've explored caves. I climbed to the top of fire towers. I've been to Clingman's Dome with myself and only me. I survived the Smokies. I climbed a tree. I bushwhacked. I avoided quicksand. I rock hopped across a stream. I scrambled up piles of boulders. I looked to the horizon and saw the future. I looked at the sunrise and saw today! I've had conversations with myself that would give scholars the answers they seek. I have been asked why.  Millions of reasons and I've thought about each and every one of them more than once. I've sat under waterfalls and skirted the river. I've made lifelong friends. A bald eagle gave me a compliment. I was buzzed by a fighter jet in Grayson Highlands. A group of Army Rangers saluted me in Georgia. I took my picture at Springer Mountain. I got my Summit Pic on Mt Katahdin. My name is Trail Marshall.  I have hiked The Appalachian Trail.

Trail Marshall atop Mount Katahdin

Trail Marshall never hiked a day in his life before stepping on the Appalachian Trail for a 406-day journey to eliminate the word “impossible” from his vocabulary. In Trail Marshall's words: "Everyone said that I couldn't do it and I knew they were right, so I went out and proved us all wrong." Since then, Trail Marshall has completed a Winter Traverse of the Blue Ridge Mountains in NC along with the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, a 1,175-mile trek across the state of North Carolina. Upon completion of the MST, the town of Nags Head, NC proclaimed May 6, 2022 to be Trail Marshall Day in the Outer Banks. Trail Marshall is currently on what he has termed "A Thru Hike of Thru Hikes," where he has combined four long distance trails into one epic journey along the Benton MacKaye Trail, the Pinhoti Trail, the Florida Trail, and a return to the Appalachian Trail. You can read more about Trail Marshall on theTrek.co and you can follow Trail Marshall Hiking on Facebook and Instagram. 
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