On Wednesday, Chassahowitzka resident Lynda Manz began a journey that not too many people attempt.
At 75 years old, she began hiking the Appalachian Trail, the hiking-only national scenic trail that passes through 14 states.
“My granddaughter Kora is going to be walking with me and Kora has been on the trail before. She wants to do it again,” Lynda said. “We are looking to probably take five and a half months.”
The duo began their 2,200-mile trip on Springer Mountain in Fannin County, Georgia.
“Kora really wants to get this done, and I’d like to be with her to help her accomplish that,” Lynda said. “We talked about it, and I talked to my husband Len, and we decided, ‘OK maybe I could do this.’”
The trail spans nearly the entire east coast of the United States, ending on Mount Katahdin in Maine.
“By that time we hope we’re in pretty good shape,” Lynda said.
Lynda and Kora prepared for their trek by walking with a fully-loaded backpack, about 25 to 30 pounds.
“I’ll probably have closer to 40 pounds when we have all the foods in it,” Lynda said.
Hikers on the trail usually bring 10-12 days worth of food, and phone home for a care package refill before they run out.
“You can only carry so much in your pack,” Lynda said. “We have been drying different kinds of food. In towns they have either the post office or a business that will accept shipments from families that are refreshing the hiker’s foods.”
Communities along the Appalachian Trail are very familiar with hikers, and often accommodate them along the way.
“What’s interesting about the trail is the fact that there are all these good-will people,” Lynda said. “All along the trail the towns and everything are set up for people that are on the trail. So they have these good-will people; all of a sudden you’ll go over a hill and there will be food set up for you. They’re very, very generous.”
Sometimes locals will even deliver hiker’s packs to their end-of-day destination to relieve the weight of carrying everything along the way.
“It’s an exciting time,” Lynda said. “I’ve wanted to do this and I hope I will get all the way through. Really my goal is to go the 2,200 miles. Even if I only do 200 miles, I’ve done it and I’ve worked at it.”
Lynda hasn’t attempted this kind of trek before, but she isn’t new to hiking.
“My husband and I had been involved with camping and hiking and backpacking and we’ve gone to Maine, we’ve been to Canada,” Lynda said. “It’s in our history. I have always walked and ridden my bike.”
The Appalachian Trail is a lofty goal to undertake — full of adventure, nature and the American wilderness. Lynda is excited to take on the challenge.
“It’s filled with all kinds of emotion — you’re excited, you’re scared. … fear of failure,” Lynda said. “The way I look at the trip is one day at a time. Just putting the first step on the trial is an accomplishment.”