“After so many years, a dream has started,” retired Jasper veterinarian Mike McGhee posted on his online trail journal March 27 of this year.
Mike McGhee, who operated Wayside Animal Clinic for many years before selling it, was a little beyond the halfway point of the Appalachian Trail, when he spoke to the Progress by cell phone earlier in June.
From near where the 2,181-mile trail crosses into New Jersey, the hiker said he had enjoyed the first 1,000 miles of walking but wasn’t sure he would want to do it again.
He carries the cell phone for emergencies, but because of limited recharging opportunities rarely uses it.
The trail, which begins near Amicalola Falls on Springer Mountain will end in Maine. Along the way, the trail passes through the states of Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.
McGhee said he was doing well physically and mentally after hiking more than 1,000 miles of the trail. His only complaint on the day he called, was his feet were really battered and bruised after completing the Pennsylvania section known for mile after mile of jagged rocks.
McGhee is averaging about 17 miles a day, a number that has increased since he began in March. On days when he is more anxious to get finished, McGhee said he can push 25 miles or more.
For those who know McGhee, a longtime Jasper resident, it was no surprise to find him hiking the most famous trail in America. McGhee had been a regular outdoorsman and athlete for years, completing other lengthy hikes, kayak trips and at one time leading the Scout Troop here.
McGhee, who uses the trail name Photon, said he is not really hiking with anyone, but there is a mixed group of other individuals who travel about the same speed and distance each day and they invariably pass one another on a regular basis.
You can follow McGhee’s progress through his online trail journal which he updates on an occasional basis. McGhee said he had not originally set-out to write the trail journal for public consumption, just to keep friends and family posted of his whereabouts.
McGhee asked that readers of his postings keep in mind it is a journal done at spots where the trail winds into the towns and only at those where there is public internet access. It is not updated daily, nor he cautions, does he always have the time or energy to do a thorough proof-reading.
His writings do offer a great glimpse of what it’s like to be an AT hiker and an inspiration for others of us to get into the outdoors.
Here is a sample taken from a recent posting:
“When I looked up one day and saw the 1,000 mile mark I had to pause and try and take it all in. I knew that I was getting there on that day but seeing it was just cool. Took pictures of course and then remembered that I still had a way to go just to get to halfway.
Arriving at Harper's Ferry was also fun. There is the ATC center there and they take your picture and you get to find out how many people arrived before you. I'm number 266. They say that half of us that get here will still drop out so it’s not a done deal yet. Harper's was a cool town and I want to come back but just wasn't hiker friendly with very expensive hotels, stores 10 miles out of town and if its a weekday, the restaurants close at 6 p.m. They only open later for the tourists. Thus I stayed one night instead of taking a rest which I really needed. Off to Maryland.”
To follow along, log on to http://www.trailjournals.com/entry.cfm?id=337354 or look for a link on our homepage.