Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Phyllis Sheffer knew hiking the Appalachian Trail would be difficult, but she didn’t know how tough until now.
Sheffer and her hiking partner, Terry (Retread) Jackson, started their hike on the Appalachian Trail March 30. The weather was a misty rain and looked like it would clear up later in the day. Both Sheffer and Jackson were excited to start this long-awaited journey.
Sheffer’s hike is called “Mission Incredible” and you can follow her journey on her blog hosted by the Moultrie News at www.blog.moultrienews.com/mission-incredible.
“There are so many things to learn and get comfortable with. Camping has never been something that I do well, so pitching a tent in the rain, using a privy, stepping out of your tent at 2 a.m. in total darkness and freezing cold to use the restroom have been something that I have had to master,” Sheffer said.
“The trail is a constant chain of mountains that go straight up and then down, not many level spots. We call them PUDs (pointless ups and downs). I am hoping that when we get to North Carolina we will have switch-backs (trails that run along the side of a mountain).”
Sheffer and Jackson have seen so many folks leave the trail, either from injuries or exhaustion. “It is so hard; sometimes you just think you can’t take another step but you do.”
And unfortunately, last week, Jackson had to leave due to injury.
“He and Patsy (his wife) are meeting me along the way and hopefully he can section-hike later in the summer. He is a wonderful hiker and everyone misses him,” she said.
With each step, Sheffer said, she is getting stronger, especially her legs. “You get in shape fast on the trail,” she said. “We go to the shelters and there are usually 30 other hikers there and everyone puts up their tent, eats and goes to bed by 8 p.m. The sun comes up at 7 a.m. and we get up, eat and hit the trail. I have not worn makeup at all and it is nice to not bother with it. I miss wine and my friends.”
Interestingly, Sheffer stopped at a full-service outfitter and hostel called Neel Gap in Georgia. There she met the owner, Logan Seamon, the son of Mount Pleasant residents Kenny and MaryAnn Seamon.
“Logan was so helpful when I got to Neel Gap and he gave me pizza. That is a lifesaver for a thru-hiker,” she said.
“I really love the thru-hikers I have met on the trail. I see lots of former military folks and lots of people hiking for a cause.”
Sheffer has now made it to the North Carolina state line. “Some people just hiked right by the sign that said NC/GA line. Georgia mountains were tough, but North Carolina mountains go straight up!”
There are plenty more stories and photos to come. Follow Sheffer as she hikes the Appalachian Trail at www.blog.moultrienews.com/mission-incredible.